Tucked mid-block between historic tenements on 6th Street in the East Village is a modern building devoted to the preservation and exhibition of Ukrainian art. While the building is new, the non profit that makes it home, The Ukrainian Museum, is not. Founded in 1976 by the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America (UNWLA), the museum has a rich collection of over 40,000 objects in the key areas of fine arts, folk arts, antique maps and prints, photographs, documents, and rare books related to Ukrainian culture.
The museum’s new building, which opened in 2005, was created by Ukrainian-American architect George Sawicki of Sawicki Tarella Architecture + Design. The museum had previously made its home at 203 Second Avenue, in the top two floors of the building. The UNWLA and the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) purchased the Second Avenue building together and formerly shared the space.
Ukrainian immigration to the East Village began at the start of the 20th century and peaked following World War II. The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 also lead to an influx of new Ukrainian immigrants. The area roughly bordered by Second and Third Avenues and Sixth and Ninth Streets is still known as Little Ukraine. While the Ukrainian population of the community has diminished in recent years, the Ukrainian Museum keeps the culture alive. Current and upcoming exhibits include Out of Tradition: Contemporary Decorative and Applied Art which features the work of 35 contemporary decorative artists of Ukrainian background; Give Up Your Daily Bread…Holodomor: the Totalitarian Solution, which commemorates the 80th anniversary of the Holodomor, the Ukrainian genocide of 1932-33; and Propaganda and Slogans: The Political Poster in Soviet Ukraine, 1919-21. Throughout the year, the museum hosts workshops that offer instruction in traditional Ukrainian crafts and cooking, family programming, and talks, concerts, and more that highlight Ukrainian culture.
The Ukrainian Museum is must-see in the East Village. Want to learn more about the East Village’s Ukrainian history? Check out this past Off the Grid post on the All Saints Ukrainian Church and this post on the East Village Meat Market.