Pectoral, middle of the 4th century B.C. Bowl, 4th century B.C. Old Russian Female Jewelry, 12th century
Pectoral, middle of the 4th century B.C.
Bowl, 4th century B.C.
Old Russian Female Jewelry, 12th century
Address: 21, block 12, Mazepa’s Street, Kiev.
(Museum is located on the area of the Kiev-Pechersk Cave Monastery)
Phone: +38 (044) 2801387.
Opening Hours: 10:00 − 17:00
Closed: on Monday.
Historical Treasures Museum is a branch of the National Museum of History of Ukraine. It is better known as the “Museum of Scythian gold”. The museum is situated on the area of the Kiev-Pechersk Cave monastery. You can see Scythian cult bowls and vases found in the burial mounds of Scythian kings. The gem of the collection is the famous “Golden pectoral” (chest decoration of a Scythian king). There are scenes from the life of the Scythians on the pectoral. The fabulous pectoral was excavated from the Thick Grave mound in Dnipropetrovsk region in 1971.
You can see ancient oriental golden decorations found in the burial of Sarmatian queen. There are the works made by Old Russian goldsmiths, craftsmen 14th – 16th centuries in the museum collection. You will be amazed with female jewelry, earrings, pendants, bracelets with their variety of forms and subjects as well as with the delicacy of the work. Unique The golden diadem decorated with multicolored cloisonne enamel is the unique masterpiece of jewelry.
Gospel settings with ornaments made with multicolored enamel and other precious items of church utensils are the excellent examples of Ukrainian jewelers’ craftsmanship in the 17th – 18th centuries.
The collection of Judaica is represented in the Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine with silver ritual objects of every day life and annual cycles. There are 38 unique Torah crowns, 105 Toraschields which are different in style and ornamentation technique, rimmonims, 60 pointers of different types for reading the Torah − 58 items made of silver, one made with a bone, one made of the wooden parts with silver and pearl decoration, Chanukah lamps, three Mehillat Esther in gilded silver case, which are unique., bsamim and so on in the museum collection. There are 11 Kiddush ritual glasses made in 18th – 20th centuries. They are decorated with ornamental floral motifs, images of lions, griffins and Unicorns.
In the last hall there are masterpieces made by famous Polish and German jewelers in the 19th – 20th centuries.
“THE FACT THAT THE MUSEUM
IS THE STATE TREASURY MAKES IT UNIQUE”
Not far from the village Sakhnivka in Cherkassy region archeologists found a treasure of exceptional beauty – a work of masters of the epoch of Kievan Rus. These are wonderful kolts – Old Russian female adornments, decorated with the famous plique-a-jour. Kolts – are kind of perfume phials. Pieces of fabric, saturated with aromatic instance, were put inside. When a woman walked, kolts shook in her ears and the scents seemed to follow her…
At all times it has been difficult to imagine a woman without jewellery, especially if this woman is the keeper of the huge storage of jewellery. We addressed this question to Lyudmila STROKOVA – the Director of the Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine. Since the unique female kolts from Sakhnivka as well as tens thousands of works of jeweller`s art of people, who inhabited Ukraine from ancient times, are kept in the local museum treasury.
— That`s right, our museum is the treasury, belonging not to one woman, but to the state − Lyudmila Vladimirovna says. − It is kind of a safe-museum. The main purpose of such a safe is storage of treasures made of precious metals. While storing, we can virtually try the historical treasure of our ancestors on our contemporaries, appreciate masterpieces of their jewelry and decorative and applied arts.
The hall of the Scythian gold collection
Gryvna from the burial of a Scythian warrior –
adornment and symbol of male nobleness
Ukrainians have what to be proud of: from old times we have had very sophisticated jewellery techniques and world-known masters in production of items of precious metals and stones. The famous Teofil, well-known from history in his “Treatise about various arts” (9 – 10 centuries) mentioned that Kievan Rus occupied the second place after Byzantine Empire in art of production of jewellery. We adopted much from the Byzantine and created a lot of our own at that time. Let`s take plique-a-jour, for example. For a long time technology of their production was considered to be lost. Only nowadays modern technologies enable to determine different temperature regimes of creative process with plique-a-jours. It is amazing how ancient masters could work without any temperature indicators. And how could antique masters without any microscope or any other device create the famous now “Golden Pectoral” – the Tsar breast adornment, depicting scenes from life of Scythians – nomads? This masterpiece of jewellery art was found in the burial mound “Heavy Grave” in Dnepropetrovsk region in 1971. Now it is one of the most precious treasures of our museum collection.
— Similar items from our history are probably kept in other museums of Ukraine as well. What makes your museum different? What is its originality, its special appeal?
— In 1963 by the governmental resolution a special department – “The Golden storeroom” was created under Kiev State Historical Museum (now the National Museum of History of Ukraine). The building №12 on the territory of the Kiev-Pechersk reserve, where we are situated now, was allocated for it. The base of the museum was formed by the collections of the Historical museum. According to the same governmental resolution, over 20 domestic museums passed their collections of precious metals to the newly-created department of the Historical museum. Inestimable contribution was made by the Institute of Archeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, which passed over 30 thousand exhibits to the museum. At the end of 1968 the special department received the status of a branch of the National Historical Museum and was entitled the Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine.
Our uniqueness is in the fact that we are the only museum establishment in Ukraine, which has the unique function of the state treasury and which is entrusted to be the so-called “protocol museum”.
Bracelets of the Sarmat burial,
2 century BC – 1 Century AD
Golden plates, depicting gryphons – decoration of wooden tableware from Berdyansk burial mound
“The Golden Pectoral” – 4th century BC
— What does it mean?
— It means that along with serving thousands of guests from all over the world, the museum has been put on programs of stay of foreign guests of state level in Ukraine. The young king of Sweden with his wife visited the museum long ago as well as American spacemen – moon rovers; American President Bill Clinton was impressed by the museum. Our national leaders have visited the museum at different times. The ex-president of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma is well-remembered here. In 2004 he once visited us with the president of Brazil. The plane of the Brazilian guest landed at Borispol airport for refueling, so Leonid Danilovich decided to entertain his foreign colleague with an exotic excursion, introduce historical treasures of Ukraine to him. Leaving the museum after the excursion he told me shortly and resolutely: “Gather and remove things − we are going to have repairs”. In a month we actually started to demount the exposition, organized full reconstruction of the museum. That is why today we have nine wonderful exhibition halls.
— Tell us about them, at least superficially.
— There is no other Scythian collection like ours anywhere else. It is our brand. I have mentioned the “Golden Pectoral” from this collection. Here is another one of the most valuable Scythian exhibits: the silver gilded bowl – the so-called “Gaymanova bowl” – the treasure from the burial mound Gaymanova Grave in Zaporozhye region. Scythian leaders and warriors are depicted on it: they sit in relaxed poses, having put aside their weapons, and have a leisurely conversation. The masters reproduced expressions of their faces, hairstyles and the smallest details of ornament on their clothes in a very expressive and delicate way. Such jewellery pattern could be easily used to create reproduction of Scythians` appearance and weapons.
The art of Kievan Rus: silver coins of Prince Vladimir and Kiev Gryvna
Clothes of a Sarmat woman – reconstruction according to materials of Kurgan-Sokolova grave
Kolts – the treasure found by the village Sakhnivka, Cherkassy region, 11-12 centuries
Or take bracelets of Sarmat burial mound – the finding from Nogaychinskiy burial mound on the territory of the Crimea dated back to the 2nd century BC – 1st century AD. The bracelets are solid and golden, decorated with pearls. There are citrine, zircon and real green emeralds on the clasp. There are also interesting sculpture groups here – representation of the God of love Eros and the girl Tsihea, who he fell in love with after pricking himself with his own arrow. According to ancient myths, when Eros married Tsihea, she was entitled a goddess and was given butterfly wings. Tsihea is the Soul. So we have tender combination of Eros and Soul. Greek goddess Pleasure was born in their marriage… That`s what extremely interesting and amazing bracelets of the Antique epoch remind us of.
Or let`s take the art of Kievan Rus: jewellery from different treasures, they are all unique and inimitable. The golden diadem and the royal ceremonial robes, decorated with many-colored plique-a-jour from Sakhninsk treasure in Cherkassy region is the pride of our museum. Coin gryvnas are often found in treasures – progenitors of our present-day gryvna…
In the hall of Ukrainian goldsmiths works of the 16th – the beginning of the 20th centuries are represented. These are mainly items of church use, made of silver with gilding. Various techniques are represented. Let`s take rizas of the icon of Virgin of Degtyariv – the unique example of Ukrainian Baroque of the 18th century: very luxuriant work, measured ornament. The shield, where the coat of arms of its customer – Hetman Ivan Mazepa was depicted, is in the bottom. In the exposition nearby there are other rizas, decorated with precious stones: brilliants, sapphires, rubies. This is the gift of Tsar Petr 1 to the wonder-working icon of Kaplunivskaya Mother of God. Works of the famous Kiev jeweller Ivan Ravich, who lived and worked on old Podol and died in poverty, like many other famous people, are represented in this hall. There are works of masters from Lvov, Zhitomir and other regions of Ukraine.
— Are only works of Ukrainian masters kept in your museum?
— The exposition of the museum includes works of peoples who lived and worked on the territory of contemporary Ukraine at different historic times. Their works became our national heritage. Along with Ukrainian, we represent Russian and Western European Golden art. The Russian collection is represented mainly by everyday items, which used to belong to Ukrainian monasteries and domestic grand people.
At due time we restored an interesting collection of applied gold and sacral silver of Western European masters and prepared an exhibition. Then we realized that it was historic collection and it should be definitely represented in the permanent exposition.
Something similar happened to the sacral Judaica. Started as a temporary exhibition, it has turned into one of the most interesting expositions of the museums. I can say we really saved it. Since when the museum was just founded, its employees didn`t guess what strange things came to their hands – past-time dogmata and certain vacuum left many gaps in knowledge of specialists of the museum. That`s why we started to find out, search, learn by ourselves. How could the yesterday`s we know that the Jews had such rich religion, decorated with masterpieces of sacral art!
The Cross of the middle of the 17th century, created on the order of Metropolit Petr Mogila for St. Sophia`s Cathedral
The hall of works of Ukrainian jewellery masters, 16th – the beginning of the 20th century
Rizas of the Icon of Degtyarivskaya Mother of God, created on the order of Hetman Mazepa
— How often are such exhibitions held?
— We permanently work at something, searching for something new. And the typical fact: we create and hold exhibitions for ourselves in first turn. And only after we get acquainted and get used to them, after we personally start to like them, they are exhibited in our expositions. We always learn and try to comprehend something new. Eventually it turns out that that is necessary for many other people too.
Not long ago we organized the exhibition of modern jewellery art, which represented works of the period of the 70th – 90th of the last century and the beginning of the 21st century. We wanted to explore the way of development of jewellery art during the last 30 years. We were interested in authors` works and over fifty jewellers brought their works from all regions of the country. It was very interesting, the exhibition caused great interest.
Now I have an intention to address all Ukrainian museums with the idea of holding an exhibition of Ukrainian jewellery art. That would really be a grand exhibition. And it would also be possible to create a great catalogue out of that collection. I realize that such a project demands much time and money. We will definitely find the time, but as to money…
— Do you ask for Maecenas` and sponsors` help? How often?
— Museum workers are Maecenas and sponsors themselves, since they preserve priceless state treasury for very low salaries. Here is my opinion: everything should be paid for in our life and especially pleasure. So our low wages are our pay for the pleasure to work in this gorgeous museum, the pleasure to “roll” in jewellery.
Rizas – the gift of Petr 1 to the miracle-working icon of Kaplunivskaya Mother of God
From the exposition of Russian jewellery art
From the exposition of Judaic sacral art
— Lyudmila Vladimirovna, you have mentioned visiting the museum by important foreign guests. How familiar is your exposition to ordinary foreigners? Does your “jewellery case” travel to other countries?
— Naturally. Exhibition activity of our museum started in 1975 – America, Japan, different countries of Europe… European interest for museum expositions has increased during the crisis lately. For example, at present time we participate in three very interesting exhibitions in Austria and Germany. For the first time we hold a common exhibition with Hermitage, where we represent works of Scythians and they – ones of Sarmats. The grand exhibition called “Byzantine. Greatness and everyday life” is being shown in Bonn. It is a grand project, exhibits of 81 museums of the world, including ours, are involved in it.
— Where do you get exhibits for such events – from the main exposition of from reserve funds?
— Mostly from the exposition, but from the funds too. The best and the most interesting exhibits are represented in the exposition, so it bears the main pressure of exhibitions. Here the funds appear to be very useful.
You know, the museum has over 50000 items of storage. But its area does not give us the opportunity to represent very big expositions. And why actually? An exposition is supposed to represent the best, the most valuable and typical − depending on its conceptual basis. Such approach is usual for the world museum practice. But we are unique even here: we exhibit 25% of our collection, while in the world practice it is usually from 3 to 7, probably 10%.
— What do you surprise new generations of visitors with?
— Recurrent “Night in the museum” has just finished. We also held a dramatized excursion “Sacred treasures”. Its subject covered religions, existing on the territory of Ukraine. The period from the Pagan 10th century to Christianity, Islam and Judaism were covered. The five exposition halls of the museum became the stage for the action.
Scenes from the night excursion “The Golden Scythia”
— Why did this excursion take place at night?
— Such annual event as a new form of museum work is held according to the initiative of the Ministry of Culture of France and with support of the International Museum Association. For example, 2400 museums of the world participated in it last year. The Historical Treasure Museum of Ukraine has been holding night exhibitions for four years on end; it has also represented the dramatized excursion “The Golden Scythia” and in this spring it has represented the above-mentioned religious subject. Preparation for such an event is rather hard, but interesting at the same time. Scripts are written, costumes are sewed, video materials and poetic works are selected long before the action. So poetry of the famous poetess Lina Kostenko, Boris Mozolevskiy – the architect, who found the “Golden Pectoral”, works of our employee from the times of foundation of the museum Lidia Oliferenko are used in the excursion “The Golden Scythia”… Out of all this a performance is created, where the “Scythians” personally tell about their life, items of everyday life, represented in the museum exposition.
It is important that the premier of the dramatized excursion at the “Spring night” in the museum does not disappear, but becomes permanent. The thematic excursion becomes a commercial one, it has its price and after-hours. But the most important thing is that it has stable demand and attracts new visitors to the Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine, priceless examples of jewellery art of their ancestors.
Media Center of “Prime Excursion Bureau”.