Ihor Poshyvailo
Documenting a church damaged by Russian shelling in the village of Dolyna, Donetsk Region Author: Bohdan Poshyvailo, Maidan Museum/HERI
2024

Ihor Poshyvailo

Cultural Activist & Museum Curator

preserving culture on the frontlines

meet ihor

Dr. Ihor Poshyvailo (Kyiv, Ukraine) is the general director of the National Memorial to the Heavenly Hundred Heroes and Revolution of Dignity Museum (Maidan Museum). He is a cultural activist, ethnologist, museologist, and art curator.

Ihor is an ex-chairman of the Museum Council at the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture, and a vice-chair of the ICOM-DRMC. He holds a Ph.D. in History and is a corresponding Member of the Archaeological Institute of America (USA). He was a Fulbright Scholar at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. 

When the large-scale Russian-Ukrainian war started in 2022 Ihor became the initiator and coordinator of the Heritage Emergency Response Initiative (HERI) and a member of the National Council for Reconstruction of Ukraine from the War.  

preserving culture on the frontlines
Nominated by: Dr. Janet Walsh, MR'05
Class of 2024 Location Ukraine
The Museum of Ukrainian Antiquities in Chernihiv, destroyed in 2022
The Museum of Ukrainian Antiquities in Chernihiv, destroyed in 2022 Author: Bohdan Poshyvailo, Maidan Museum/HERI

I have spent almost all of my personal and professional life in a cultural environment. My grandparents were renowned folk artists who founded a private museum in their house in the Ukrainian ceramic capital – the village of Opishne. My museum career started at the National Center of Folk Culture, founded by cultural dissident Ivan Honchar in Kyiv, where I was for many years focused on the transition of the post-Soviet cultural heritage sector into important democratic institutions.

My Fulbright scholarship at the Smithsonian Institution empowered me with knowledge and inspired me to take action back home. When the Euromaidan Revolution took place in 2013, I co-founded the Maidan Museum initiative as a platform for conversations discussing the movement. Over the course of two years, that grass-roots initiative developed into the National Museum of the Revolution of Dignity (Maidan Museum) in Kyiv, which I led as general director.

Besides providing support on the ground to hundreds of cultural institutions and thousands of individuals, we did fieldwork documenting the damage to cultural heritage, collecting objects and oral stories.

- Ihor Poshyvailo
During a field expedition near the city of Izium, Kharkiv Region, where severe battles took place in 2022.
During a field expedition near the city of Izium, Kharkiv Region, where severe battles took place in 2022. Author: Bohdan Poshyvailo, Maidan Museum/HERI

When the military conflict unfolded into a large-scale war in February 2022, I focused on coordinating national and international efforts to save Ukrainian heritage from the destructive effects of the war by co-founding the Heritage Emergency Response Initiative (HERI).

Besides providing support on the ground to hundreds of cultural institutions and thousands of individuals, we did fieldwork documenting the damage to cultural heritage, collecting objects and oral stories, and providing damage and risk assessment. At the same time we worked on expanding our capacity through close relationships with the Smithsonian Institution, ALIPH Foundation, CER, ICCROM, UNESCO and many other international partners.

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