Incorporation of the Ukrainian Museum-Archives into the US-Ukraine agreement on Cultural Preservation
After independence in 1991, the collection at the Ukrainian Museum-Archives became much more interesting and relevant for outsiders. The institution welcomed visitors from Ukraine as well as scholars interested in Ukrainian issues. One such visitor was the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States, Yuri Shcherbak, who spoke at the City Club in Cleveland and paid a courtesy visit to the UMA. Amazed by the quality and scope of the collection, he contacted the National Academy of Sciences and also advocated from the UMA’s inclusion in the US-Ukraine Agreement on Cultural Preservation. It was an obscure commission of the US government set up under the Reagan administration in order to preserve American heritage abroad. In Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the mandate of this commission was to work with foreign governments to preserve Jewish cemeteries that were abandoned because of massive emigration and the Holocaust. The Ukrainian embassy in Washington and Ambassador Shcherbak said that Ukraine would most willingly preserve and restore Jewish cemeteries, as this was part of its heritage, but asked what the American government was prepared to do to preserve Ukrainian culture in the US. As a result, the UMA was incorporated into the U.S.-Ukraine Agreement on Cultural Preservation as a pilot project. Within that framework, the UMA, Ohio State University and Cleveland State University offered courses on Ukrainian History and Culture. Moreover, this status allowed the museum to tap into US government money. The UMA subsequently received grants from Congressionally directed funding for HUD (Housing and Urban Development), which gave the museum the seed money to build the archival building, allowing it to store collections in a properly regulated environment.
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- Kulick, Orysia Maria