The Ukrainian Museum and Library of Stamford: An 80th anniversary history

12 March 2018, 17:14 | Society-digest | 0 |   | Code for Blog |  | 

Compiled by Lubow Wolynetz, edited by Dr. Arcadia Kocybala

9 March 2018 Ukrainian Weekly 

The Ukrainian Museum and Library of Stamford is the oldest cultural institution of its kind in North America. As the Museum and Library celebrates its 80th anniversary, it stands as an invaluable asset of the Ukrainian community, a unique resource for study and research, and a singular portal for visitors to learn about Ukrainian culture.

The foundation for the Ukrainian Museum and Library of Stamford was laid by Bishop Constantine Bohachevsky in 1933 with the purchase of the Quintard Estate, with its late 19th century mansion in the French Second Empire Style as well as other buildings. The museum is housed in the mansion, known as “The Chateau,” an imposing structure with fine architectural detail. In addition, the grounds of the estate were the home of St. Basil’s Preparatory School and the Ukrainian Catholic Seminary, later known as St. Basil’s College Seminary.

Bishop Constantine, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States, was the driving force in creating a cultural center that would enable Ukrainian émigrés to preserve their national identity and to embrace their religious and cultural heritage. The Rev. Leo Chapelsky was named as the “first curator of the National Museum of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States.” The organization and preparatory work of the museum took several years, during which time objects for the museum collections were donated, purchased and occasionally commissioned through museum and cultural institution contacts in Western Ukraine.

The official opening and blessing of the Ukrainian Museum and Library occurred in September 1937. In honor of this occasion, a fund-raising poster was created by the Ukrainian artist M. Diadyniuk in Lviv, which noted that this celebration coincided with the 900th anniversary of Grand Prince Yaroslav Mudry’s announcement of the Mother of God as queen of Ukraine and the 100th anniversary of the publication of “Rusalka Dnistrova” by the Rev. Markian Shashkevych, who was a leader of the Ukrainian literary revival. Moreover, Metropolitan Archbishop Andrey Sheptytsky of Lviv donated “The Madonna of St. George Cathedral,” a painting by the famous artist Oleksa Novakivsky, as an expression of unity for the opening ceremonies.

The museum’s rich and extensive collections include folk, religious and fine art. The folk art collection began in the early 1930s with Sister Severine Parylle, OSBM, who arrived in the United States from Ukraine with regional costumes. The Rev. Chapelsky visited western Ukraine in 1936 and enlarged the folk art collection with purchases and donations of duplicates from Ukrainian museums, including wood carvings, ceramics, musical instruments, textiles and embroideries.

Over the years, the folk art collection, constituting the largest group of holdings in the museum, has grown substantially through donations and purchases. Today, numbering about 7,000 objects, that collection includes a wide range of wood carvings, inlaid wood objects, ceramics, decorated Easter eggs (pysanky), costumes, textiles, kylyms, metalwork, embroidered shirts and ritual cloths (rushnyky), musical instruments, and household tools and implements, representing all regions of Ukraine.

The fine arts collection consists of nearly 3,000 paintings and sculptures by artists from Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora, as well as works by non-Ukrainian artists dealing with Ukrainian themes, such as Jan de Rosen (1891-1982). There are works by such renowned artists as Ivan Trush (1869-1941), Oleksa Novakivsky (1872-1935), Petro Cholodny the elder (1876-1930) and Petro Cholodny the younger (1902-1990), Alexis Gritchenko (1883-1977), Oleksander Archipenko (1887-1964), Mykhailo Osinchuk (1890-1969), Yosyp Bokshai (1891-1975), Mykola Butovych (1895-1961), Borys Kriukov (1895-1967), Severyn Borachok (1898-1975), Serhii Lytvynenko (1899-1964), Edward Kozak (1902-1991), Mykola Nedilko (1902-1979), Mykhailo Moroz (1904-1992), Mykhailo Chereshniowsky (1911-1994), Hryhorii Kruk (1911-1989), Myron Levytsky (1913-1993), Jacques Hnizdovsky (1915-1985), Bohdan Bozhemsky (1923-), Ivan Marchuk (1936-), Feodosii Humeniuk (1941-), Oleksander Ivakhnenko (1949-), Vasyl Lopata (1941-) and others.

The religious art collection, numbering about 1,000 objects, encompasses icons from the 17th to the 20th centuries, hand crosses and candelabra (triytsi) from the 19th century; priestly vestments, including one from the 18th century from the Monastery of the Caves in Kyiv; various metal church vessels and metal crosses. The museum also has two complete iconostases (icon screens for liturgical purposes) composed by émigré iconographers Sviatoslav Hordynsky and Mykhailo Osinchuk.

For over four decades the museum was housed in two great rooms in the “Chateau,” which was also the also the residence of the bishop and the eparchial chancery. In 1982, Bishop Basil Losten, the third eparch of Stamford, moved the residence and the chancery to another building, thus expanding the space for the museum. As a result, the collections are now displayed on the first two floors, and the third floor is used for storage.

The highly regarded library has grown to over 70,000 volumes, and is one of the largest and best outside Ukraine. The library also had its start in “The Chateau,” originally occupying two rooms with many books initially acquired from western Ukraine. Located in the former St. Basil’s Prep School at 39 Clovelly Road since 1982, the library is now also known as the Cultural Research Center since its official dedication in 1997. The thousands of volumes are catalogued online and entered in the OCLC (Online Computer Library Center), a cataloguing system used worldwide for research libraries, and are available for inter-library loan.

The collection keeps growing through purchases and the infusion of donations of private libraries. In addition to the thousands of books and periodicals, the library has a collection of rare books, including Triod Tsvitna from 1491, several 17th century publications of the Stavropigion Brotherhood of Lviv, Halytska Zorya from 1848, a first edition of the Kobzar from 1840, and others.

The extensive archival portion of the library contains photographic, philatelic, numismatic and audio recordings collections, as well as rare 17th and 18th century maps. Among the photographs, which mainly depict a wide range of activities of Ukrainians in the United States, there is a special collection of nearly 4,000 glass negative slides of the World War I Ukrainian army, Sichovi Striltsi. There are also archives of notable Ukrainians, such as Dr. Jaroslaw Padoch, a prominent community leader; Dr. Wasyl Lencyk, scholar and curator of the Stamford Museum and Library; Dr. Mykola Chubaty, noted Ukrainian church historian; Yurii Starosolsky, lawyer and Library of Congress translator; Dr. Walter Dushnyck, scholar and long-time editor of The Ukrainian Quarterly; Dr. Jaroslaw Pelenski, professor of history; and individual clergy, as well as various Ukrainian organizations, e.g., Ukrainian Catholic War Relief Committee, Ukrainian Catholic Youth League (1933-1945) and its successor, the League of Ukrainian Catholics, the Ukrainian Millennium of Christianity Celebration, and the U.S. branch of the Patriarchal Society.

With a modest start during the Great Depression in the United States but with a grand vision of its founder, Bishop Constantine, the Ukrainian Museum and Library of Stamford has, in the course of eight decades, evolved into an institutional gem, dedicated to the collection, preservation, documentation and exhibition of objects and publications related to the Ukrainian culture and heritage. Attainment of this 80th milestone has been enabled by the individuals who have served as curators and directors, the commitment of Stamford Eparchy bishops, and the many-sourced financial support.

The first curator from 1933 to 1938 was the Rev. Chapelsky. For some time the museum was headed by Sister Teresa of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, followed by Prof. Chubaty and later by Maria Klachko and then by Vera Spikula. While the development of the museum slowed for various reasons after World War II, Bishop Joseph Schmondiuk restored focus on the museum after the completion of the new College Seminary building in 1964, with the appointment of a board of directors and Dr. Wasyl Lencyk as museum director (1964-2000).

With Dr. Lencyk’s retirement, Lubow Wolynetz became the curator and continues in this position today. Msgr. John Terlecky has been director of the Library/Cultural Research Center since 1997.

Bishop Basil has been instrumental in revitalizing the Museum and Library, including, for example, the formation of a new board of directors, registration of the Museum and Library as a non-profit organization in the state of Connecticut, expansion of the exhibit space at the museum, renovation of the library building and its opening as the Cultural Research Center, as well as undertaking and supporting myriad initiatives related to its continued development, growth, expansion, and maintenance. Bishop Paul Chomnycky, OSBM, enthusiastically continues to support the activities related to the development of the Museum and Library.

The ability of the Museum and Library to thrive has been dependent on the vital financial support of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Stamford, institutions such as Self Reliance New York Federal Credit Union, the SUMA Federal Credit Union of Yonkers, N.Y., the Providence Association of Ukrainian Catholics in Philadelphia, along with the Turula Family Trust of Rochester, N.Y., and the Ukrainian Heritage Fund of Chicago. The institution also relies on the generosity of members, estate bequests and individual donors, most notably Leo Gallan in memory of his wife, Dorette, who was on the museum’s board of directors. The continued growth and development of the Museum and Library collections can only be achieved via these many sources of funding.

The cultural and historical legacy preserved at the Ukrainian Museum and Library of Stamford is an endowment for generations to come.


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    • bopa | 4 April 2020, 15:26

      Для вірних поважного віку ситуація не так уже й незвична. Вони пам'ятають, коли міліція, у формі і без, пильно слідкувала за участтю вірних у святкових богослужіннях. Вже не говорю про вірних

    • | 4 April 2020, 08:03

      Дуже схоже. І, судячи з усього, грядущий прихід Антихриста все ближче й ближче... ------ Разом з тим: усе це також означає і свідчить, що і неминуче (після того) повернення Христа - тільки вже як

    • Учкудук | 4 April 2020, 07:48

      Це якраз закулісна репетиція апологетів нового світового порядку-- як люди будуть реагувати на ту чи іншу ситуацію.

    • Учкудук | 4 April 2020, 07:39

      А про ДУШУ нічого не сказав. Підкоряти, розширяти, винаходити -- які пафосні слова. А смисл? Господь сказав: яка користь людині, коли весь світ здобуде,але свою душу занапастить? А де ті провідники

    • | 3 April 2020, 14:52

      Цією своєю постановою Кабмін України "відмінив" і "скасував" Великдень (Пасху) - що старозавітню, що Христову (західної і східної традицій)... ------ Дуже вірогідно, що у подібний

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