Motion Detector No. 20: #WeStandwithUkraine

Museum Europäischer Kulturen

In the Motion Detector series, the Museum Europäischer Kulturen (MEK, Museum of European Cultures) shows objects from its collection and loans on current topics that are moving people in Europe. The 20th Motion Detector deals with the war in Ukraine. The presentation can be viewed in the lobby of the MEK until August 2022.

Since 24 February 2022, Ukraine has been at war. Russian troops invaded the borders of this sovereign state in violation of international law. The population of Ukraine faces unimaginable suffering. Numerous civilians have already died, and millions are on the run. It is also Ukraine's cultural heritage that is in danger: some museums were able to evacuate their collections, others have already been destroyed by the fighting.

Ukraine is located in the east of Europe. It borders Poland, Romania, Moldova, Russia, Belarus, Slovakia and Hungary. Throughout history, the rule over today's national territory has changed several times: parts of it belonged to the Kingdom of Poland-Lithuania, others to the Russian Tsarist Empire, the Habsburg Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Soviet Union. Over time, the country developed a unique aggregation of languages, religions and cultures. This diversity shaped the country, independent since 1991, and the Ukrainian society to this day.

Ethnologists have been interested in Ukraine for a long time. However, the collectors of the early twentieth century did not look at the states. They documented ‘ethnic groups’, places and ‘cultural landscapes’. Much of the resulting data is difficult for us today: place names have changed since then or were never official. ‘Cultural landscape’ being just as vague and difficult to define as the concept of ‘ethnicity’. Yet, the objects from the collection of the Museum Europäischer Kulturen on display here give an impression of the great religious and cultural diversity of Ukraine.

We stand in solidarity with all people who oppose Russian aggression in Ukraine. Their commitment helps protect the rich cultural heritage of the region and supports the preservation of the pluralistic coexistence that defines Ukraine.