One of the oldest and largest Ukrainian museums, which collection comprised over 180 thousand exhibits, including the monuments and artefacts of world importance.
An important cultural landmark, the Donetsk Regional Museum of Local History, has already suffered damage before the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. Already in 2014, this place was a victim of Russian criminal activity. It reminds the rest of the world that Russia has been waging an aggressive war against Ukraine for more than 8 years, not just a few months.
The Donetsk museum was one of the oldest and largest in Ukraine. It was founded in 1924 at the initiative of O. Olshachenko, a geography professor at the Rabfak (‘workers’ school’) of the Stalino Mining Technical College, as well as students, workers of a local metallurgical plant, and local collectors. The latter provided the museum with numismatic collections and pre-Soviet era documents, which served as the museum’s founding gift.
Due to the lack of governmental funding, the museum was initially located on the second floor of the ‘Colosseum’cinema, where it has been welcoming guests every Sunday since 1926. The visit was free. Since the 1930s, the Museum of Local History started researching the Donets basin: its flora, fauna, geology, and archaeological sites. Most of the collections were destroyed in fires as a result of the Donetsk region’s being occupied by German forces during World War II. As soon as Donetsk was liberated from the Nazis in December 1943, work on their restoration started.
Local history has been the focus of the museum since 1950. In 1972, it relocated and remained in that building until 2014. The structure comprised 4 floors, 29 halls, and more than 7 thousand m² of exhibition space. Over the years, the museum’s collections have amassed more than 180 thousand exhibits.
Every year, more than 200,000 visitors came to the museum to view its paleontological collection, which included the remains of a mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, and bison skeletons, as well as prints of fossil plants and petrified wood trunks. Along with ancient tools, Eneolithic adornments from the Mariupol burial ground, remnants of the Srubna culture, and artefacts from the Scythian and Polovtsian eras were part of the museum’s collection. There were also monuments of international significance from the Amvrosiivka site, where primitive men lived and where tribal hunting took place. The Scythian stone statue became the visiting card of the Donetsk Museum of Local History. Objects from the Cossack era, weapons from the 18th–19th centuries, historical photographs and documents of the region and its enterprises were also displayed there. In addition, the museum was among the first in Ukraine to begin developing an inclusive space for people with disabilities.
Since the beginning of Russia’s military invasion of Donbas in 2014, Russian troops have repeatedly shelled the museum. The museum building was destroyed by Russian artillery fire on the night of August 20–21, 2014: eight shells ruined the walls, roof, and basement and damaged the ceiling. Out of 29, only three halls were still standing. The most ancient artefacts gathered over many years were lost from the archaeological collection. The ‘Plant and Animal World of Donetsk Region’ hall and the ‘Holy Mountains’ diorama, which represented the variety of flora and fauna found in the same-named national park and was one of the largest dioramas in Ukraine were completely destroyed by the Russian troops. Storage facilities were also damaged. The museum came under occupation.
The institution resumed work in 2016 in Kramatorsk. Over six years, the museum employees have collected 750 exhibits. They steadfastly persisted in their work and held onto their hope for their eventual return to their homeland, the preservation of the collections, and the potential the Donetsk Museum once held. However, due to the large-scale war and the subsequent Russian troops’ offensive in the Donetsk region, Kramatorsk has already found itself extremely close to the battle line and suffers from merciless shelling.
So, the site that once held memories may now turn into a memory itself.
Formerly Palace of Culture of the Azovstal plant. The building of the former Continental hotel (1887–1910).
A unique monastery complex of the XVI–XIX centuries with natural caves.
Historical buildings reflecting the Mariupol architecture of the late XIX and early XX centuries before the Bolshevik Revolution.
Donbas Arena is the home stadium of the Ukrainian ‘Shakhtar’ football club, which became the first of the ‘elite’ category in Ukraine and in all of Eastern Europe.
An ancient building of 1902 in the Northern Art Nouveau style, which comprised under its roof the works by respected Ukrainian landscape painters, as well as world-famous marine and realist artists.
Invaluable monumental artworks, created by a group of Ukrainian monumentalists led by Alla Horska, a dissident artist and one of the Sixtiers movement’s founders. These panels incorporated elements of Ukrainian folk tradition, contemporary world trends, and Soviet art.
Formerly prospering trade and then a metallurgical centre of Ukraine that has become the symbol of the bloody Russian invasion of Ukraine and the genocide committed by the Russian army and government.
The only church in the world entirely decorated with Petrykivka paintings, an ancient style of folk Ukrainian decorative painting included in the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.
The museum was established at the Faculty of History of Mariupol State University. It has become an important cultural and educational site bringing together students, professors, and citizens around the native land’s history.
The manor of Mariupol City Council’s mayor, having more than 150 years of history behind. Its architecture incorporated elements of the Stalinist Empire, Neoclassicism, and Baroque.
One of the biggest steam mills in the German Mennonite colony that existed in the Donetsk region at the turn of the 20th century. Built in 1903, this mill had been feeding people of New York and all of its suburbs for decades.
The central church of the Sviatohirsk Lavra’s convent, erected in the neoclassical style with baroque elements in 2005 in the site of a stone church of 19th century dismantled by the Bolsheviks.
The house was built in the constructivist style in 1929. It has been the centre of the city’s creative life for almost a hundred years.
Former State Bank’s building, constructed at the turn of the 20th century. In 2019, this site housed the city library, which history began back in 1904. An intellectual and educational centre of the city.
A two-storey manor in the classical style with a neo-Gothic tower, built in Mariupol 125 years ago. The state was a property of respected doctors.
Part of the Sviatohirsk Lavra. All the skete’s buildings are made of massive pine trunks. The All Saints Church, the main skete’s sanctuary, used to be the biggest wooden church in Ukraine.
The Azovstal plant in Mariupol was one of the largest iron and steel producers in Europe. In 2022 it became a symbol of resistance to brutal Russian aggression and the incredible courage of Ukrainian fighters.
Educational institution with more than 140 years of history where many generations of Mariupol citizens studied.
Center of spiritual life of Muslims of Donetsk region.
Two buildings are a monument to an entire era. They were the last buildings in Mariupol designed in the Stalinist Neoclassicism style.
One of the oldest theatres in the Left-bank Ukraine.
The mosque was built in 2007 on the site of a mosque built in 1906 and destroyed by the Bolsheviks in 1936.
St. Demetrius Church dedicated to the holy martyr Demetrius of Thessaloniki is one of the oldest in the region.