XIX – XXI
In the XIX century, as in the past, Lavra undertook immense construction and repair-restoration works. During the reconstruction of the Pechersk Fortress, in the middle of XIX century, a fortified stone wall was built around the lower territory of Lavra.
In the end of XIX century, the Refectory Chamber and the church were built by the design of the architect V. Nikolaiev. The interiors of the church and the Refectory Chamber were painted under command of the architect O. Shchusiev.
The dwelling place took care of the monks and pilgrims’ health. In 1849, on the territory of the monastery, a two-storeyed hospital was built, as well as a hospital for pilgrims and travellers, which treated more than 500 patients annually.
In 1873, in the City of Kyiv, at the Church Archaeology Community, the Church Archaeology Museum, the first city museum available for public, was founded. Its unique collection numbered over 30 thousand exhibits. The purpose of foundation of the museum was defined as preservation and collection of church treasures, as well as the study of church history. According to its organisational provisions, the museum was a civil institution that operated on a public basis and existed on voluntary donations. The idea of foundation of the museum was very popular among the clergy, ranging from village pastors to Fathers Superior and bishops, most of which actively contributed to replenishment of the museum’s collection.
The question of the museum foundation on the territory of Lavra was raised yet before the events of 1917: at all times, the sacristy of the Dormition Cathedral of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra used to be a kind of a closed museum, not available for ordinary public. The Flavian library, founded by Metropolitan Flavian on the territory of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, apart from the old book collection, also had other exhibits presented in reading halls. In 1918, archimandrite Clement, the acting Father Superior, among other needs of the dwelling house, deemed it necessary to establish the monastery’s own Church Archaeology Museum that would promote safe preservation of Lavra’s historical landmarks and antiquities. To found the museum, it was planned to establish a special committee led by the famous church historian and Lavra researcher, arch-priest F. I. Tytov.
The idea of Lavra museum was put into practice, but in a bit different dimension.
After October 1917 events, the most difficult times in the history of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra began. According to the Decree of Soviet government “About separation of church from the state and school from church” (dated 23.01.1918), all property of church and religious communities was announced national heritage. State and militant atheists’ persecution of church commenced. Lavra’s spiritual values and valuable effects were in peril. Just from 1919 to 1922, valuables for over 164,657 karbovanets in gold were took out from Lavra.
In the beginning of the twenties, thanks to enthusiasm of best representatives of the creative community, the first advocate of the ancient sanctity emerged on the territory of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. On May 26, 1922, at the session of Kyiv Committee for Preservation of Monuments of Art, a resolution of “Foundation of the Museum of Cult and Living” was adopted. The organisers of the museum were eminent Ukrainian scientists: F. M. Morozov, F. I. Shmit, F. L. Ernst, and others. The foundation of the museum institution on the territory of Lavra drastically hampered implementation of the adopted policy of destruction of the dwelling house and its spiritual and artistic values.
After long negotiations, the most valuable part of the Church Archaeology Museum’s collection was transferred to the Museum of Cult and Living; at that time that part faced a real danger of liquidation. A great number of historical values kept in the sacristy, churches, and other premises of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra became a basis for this museum. O. Vinnytskyi, provincial inspector for outreach activities, was appointed the first director of the museum. The exposition was placed in the Metropolitan House. On January 20, 1923 the head of conservation for the museum issued the first statement on the “Museum of Cult and Living in Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra”. That year, the museum was visited by about 1,200 persons.
The activity of the Church Archaeology Museum and the Museum of Cult and Living presents an inevitable part of the Preserve’s background. The museums share their course for preservation of church treasures and study of church history, as well as the fact that both were founded thanks to efforts of best representatives of the national intellectuals, church and secular ones.
In 1925, the Museum of Cult and Living became one of the leading museums in Ukraine. Its funds numbered 82 thousand exhibits and comprised eight sections: metal, machining painting, fabrics and sewing, numismatics, cults, history of Lavra, manuscripts, and printing.
Not a single Lavra construction was ruined in the times of “militant atheism”. On the contrary, the Museum town was founded, a number of museums and exhibitions were opened, and this is owing to the Museum that thousands upon thousands of historical, art, and cultural monuments have survived. They have been preserved thanks to devotion of museum staff, who, in spite of all regimes, terrible events, and wars, attempted to save these spiritual messages from the past and return them from wilderness.
Considering the important historical and cultural value of the architectural ensemble of the monastery and the items of the Museum collection, on September 29, 1926, All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee and Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR adopted the resolution of “Recognition of the former Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra historical and cultural Preserve and its transformation to All-Ukrainian Museum town”. Under the resolution, the Preserve included the museums of Cult and Living, numismatics, old-Ukrainian construction equipment, Ukrainian antiquities, First All-Ukrainian restoration workshop, typography of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, cathedrals, fortified walls, the Near and the Far Caves, bell towers, archive fond of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, and libraries.
During the second half of the twenties-beginning of the thirties, the Museum acquired a well-deserved fame of a large scientific centre. The “Lavra Museum Operational Plan for 1925-1926” is a significant measure of high level of museum and scientific work in the Preserve of that time and absence of any politicising in the museum’s operations. Eminent scientists of that time worked there: K. Moshchenko, M. Novytska, P. Popov, P. Pototskyi, V. Shuhaievskyi, who published a number of fundamental studies of the history of literature, museology, most of which preserved their scientific significance by now. The museum employees went for scientific expeditions to cities of Russia and Ukraine, reaching Caucasus and Siberia.
Cultural and educational activities on the territory of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra developed in parallel with the monk community that existed there. Still, in the beginning of 1930, the monastery was closed, the monks were dishoused, and the religious life came to a halt. The same year, Saint Volodymyr and Saint Sophia Cathedrals, which became the affiliates of the Preserve, were closed.
On the eve of the Second World War, the Preserve became an important centre of scientific and educational work. Annually, it attracted hundreds of thousands excursionists with its prominent monuments and museums.
The activities of the Preserve’s staff were temporarily stopped by the Second World War and the occupation of the City of Kyiv in September 1941. At first, the German government sought support of the church and the people. In 1942, on the lower territory of the Kyiv-Pechersk Preserve, the monastery revived. The revival was initiated by Anthony (prince David Abashidze), the former archbishop of Kherson and Tavriia and the former monk of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra.
Since the first days of the invasion, the occupants started to plunder and bring out to Germany the most valuable museum treasures, including the collection items of the Kyiv-Pechersk Preserve. Before the occupation, exhibits were partially evacuated to the Russian regions far from the front line. Still, a great part of the museum pieces that were left were either removed to Germany, or lost in the war time. The fund collections of the Preserve, as a single whole, practically ceased to exist.
On November 3, 1941, the Cathedral of the Dormition was exploded. The immense force of the explosion caused a soil quake, led to destruction of main buildings around the cathedral, and resulted in cracks in the bedrock, footing of the constructions, and damage of the drainage system.
In November 1943, after the city liberation, the Kyiv-Pechersk Preserve resumed its activities. A systemic work on reconstruction and restoration of architectural monuments, historical sites, and unique pieces of art started. Gradually, the exhibits (3,503 conservation items in total) were returned from Ural and Germany. The main works on restoration of the fund collection and its reconciliation were conducted in 1946-1949. Apart from the cult clothing, over two thousand icons and portraits were brought back from Germany. Over 16 thousand of metal works and a numismatics collection were returned through the State Bunk of Ukraine. The works printed anciently and engravings were passed from the library of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Moreover, over five thousand precious metals wares and over two thousand items of precious fabrics were found under the ruins of the Cathedral of the Dormition.
Within 1960-1980s, the Preserve held reconstruction and repair-restoration works. Also, the activities on landscaping were developed. The scientific and research activities were directed at studies of the history of Lavra, its architectural ensemble, and fund collections. Permanent exhibitions were placed in restored pavilions.
In 1970-1990s, the Institute of Archaeology NA of Sciences of Ukraine conducted archaeological excavations on the territory of the Preserve and in the Caves. Museum staff was also engaged in the researches. In the area of the Cathedral Square, remains of the old-Russian workshop were found, where smalt was produced for mosaics of the Cathedral of the Dormition, as well as pieces of footing of the first monastery refectory. Salvage excavations in the Near Caves (1978-1979s) presented the major researches of Lavra caves. Scientists revealed unknown paths and different premises, a great number of inscriptions on the walls, fragments of wall painting, and various archaeological materials.
In June 1988, in connection with celebration of the Millenary of the Baptism of Kyiv Rus, the Council of Ministers of Ukraine adopted a resolution under which the territory of the Far Caves with all buildings and Caves’ labyrinth was disposed to the recently created Pechersk dwelling place. In 1990, the territory of the Near Caves was also joined to it. These acts gave rise to restoration of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church monastery; and now, a fruitful creative collaboration with the leadership of the Church is established: a number of joint charity exhibitions were opened, joint annual scientific conferences “Mohyla Readings” are held, and several works have been published by joint efforts.
Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra is a prominent monument not only of the Slavonic but of the global culture as well. Taking into account the uniqueness of the architectural ensemble, the role of Lavra in the development of the national and world culture, science and education, in 1990, at the 14th session of the UNESCO international committee, Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra was inscribed into “UNESCO World Heritage List”.
The Historical and Cultural Preserve, founded in 1926, provided for conservation and restoration of national art treasures and the architectural complex of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. It is a unique and one of the largest museum complexes in Eastern Europe. By Order of the President of Ukraine dated March 13, 1996, considering the significance of the Preserve as a unique cultural and scientific establishment, the Preserve was granted the National status.
Nowadays, the National Kyiv-Pechersk Historical and Cultural Preserve is the largest museum complex in Ukraine, where 144 monuments of history and culture, are preserved. Among the constructions are two unique underground complexes, cathedrals, landmarks of architecture of XI-XIX centuries, and exhibition premises.
In line with educational traditions of Lavra, the staff of the Preserve is engaged in scientific and research, exposition, scientific, and educational activities. Lately, a number of new exhibitions were organised, the lecture-hall is regularly open, exhibitions’ books and catalogues are published; annually, scientists both from Ukraine and from abroad come to the Preserve to attend the scientific and practical conference “Mohyla Readings”.
The Preserve is an immense touristic centre visited by hundreds of thousands guests from different countries of the world.
Fine precious metal wares, cult embroidering with gold/silver, and a rich collection of icons are exhibited at regular and periodic expositions, which are replenished through the fund collection of the museum that counts over 70 thousand items. There is an ongoing public awareness campaign on the museum’s activities in media; works and collections of scientific papers “Lavra Almanac” and “Mohyla Readings” are published. An extensive system of museum service is in place.
Under the Order of the President of Ukraine dated November 9, 1995, in connection to 2000th anniversary of the Birth of Christ, the Dormition Cathedral was restored. In August 2000, it was consecrated.
The main activities of the National Kyiv-Pechersk Historical and Cultural Preserve are preservation, popularization, and exposition of cultural heritage. The activities aim at protection and transmission of the treasures of the past to future generations.
The Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra ensemble is a unique museum of shapes and styles, in which best samples of national architecture are represented. Every construction has its own face and visual image. By efforts of talented architects and constructors, one of the most prominent monastery complexes, Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, emerged. For over 950 years, its history is intertwined with the history, life, and culture of the Ukrainian people.