Ukraine in the spotlight: A new exhibition

A new exhibition at Tufts University reflects on the connected histories and vibrant cultures of the regions of modern Ukraine, which have been brought into the spotlight by Russia’s full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022. A year on, the devastating destruction to human life and local culture continues, but new efforts are underway to support Ukraine and put the history and heritage of the region, and of Eastern Europe more broadly, on the map. 

Ukraine: Connected Histories and Vibrant Cultures is a panel exhibition co-organized by faculty, staff, and students at Tufts. The exhibition brings attention to the entangled and complex histories of Eastern Europe, highlighting for a broad audience key historical moments and events, figures, as well as objects and monuments from Ukraine that are little known outside specialist circles and endangered by the current war. Featuring a timeline, maps (by Richard Thomson), as well as textual and visual sources, the project also addresses later transformations and manipulations of the historical and material records in order to advance certain narratives, especially during the Soviet era.

The 12 panels that form the exhibition look at aspects of the local history and artistic production through cultural contacts, highlighting the relations of Rus and Byzantium, the Mongols, and the West through diplomacy, trade, marriages, as well as economic, religious, and cultural angles. Several panels showcase the Jewish and Armenian heritage of the region, including the recent destruction of key sites and memorial. In addition, the project details recent efforts to document, study, and preserve the history and culture of Ukraine and Kyivan Rus, including recorded lecture series, publications, and digital archiving projects.     

To complement the research and presentation of the material on the individual panels, an area of the library has been reserved for a display of books about Ukraine and Eastern Europe available in local collections. Finally, the exhibition highlights the work of Ukrainian artists, Oleksandr Klymenko and Sofia Atlantova, specifically three icons painted on repurposed wooden ammunition boxes that are part of their larger project “Buy an Icon – Save a Life.” This is an art project that began after Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine.


Select features of this exhibition are available on the exhibition website, which also indicates possible reuse of this project in other contexts or venues. This project can be adapted in content and modes of display.

The exhibition opening on March 6, 2023 also featured complimentary copies of Medieval World: Culture & Conflict issue 2, which explored the history and visual culture of Kyivan Rus.  

Ukraine: Connected Histories and Vibrant Cultures responds to the current crisis in Ukraine by bringing to the fore the history and heritage of the region. This project also encourages conversations about preservation and access efforts, as well as ways to expand educational opportunities to include the complex histories and diverse visual cultures of Eastern Europe.

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