The Pirogovo Open-Air Museum

Typical Ukrainan farmhouses
Typical Ukrainan farmhouses

One of the most popular museums in the Kiev area is “Pirogovo – the Museum of Ukrainian Folk Architecture, Rural Life, and Folk Art”. It is  located southwest of Kiev in a picturesque setting.

With its more than 150 hectares, this open air museum is divided into seven “villages” representing everyday life between the 17th and 20th centuries and representing every region of the Ukraine. You can go from the north to the south and from the east to the west of Ukraina in just one afternoon, and admire traditional homes, furniture, and textiles.

. The museum’s exhibition is divided in two main areas: Before and after the revolution of 1917, but as the museum was founded in the 2060’s and was opened to the public in 1976, 13 years prior to the fall of the Soviet Union, the transition from an agrarian, traditional society to industrialized agriculture is more or less absent in the story told by the museum.  This transition is one of the darkest events in the history of the 20th century.

In order to fulfill his idea of a modern, post rural society, Stalin ordered the removal of the cornerstone of the farming communities, the so-called Kulaks. More than 900.00 were killed or deported. In addition, all the produce of Ukrainian agriculture was seized by the Soviets and exported in order to finance the building of the new, modern heavy industry, leading to the starvation and death of more than 3.5 million Ukrainians in the early 1930’s. In addition, close to 1 million Ukrainians were killed during Stalins “Great Terror ” in 1937 – 38. It seems a little odd that these facts is paid little attention to in the exhibitions and the layout of the museum. After all Ukraina was, together with Belarus the place where the reign of the two despots, Hitler and Stalin resulted in the largest massacres the world had seen. (source Timothy Snyder: Bloodlands, Europe between Hitler and Stalin)

However, the museum is an idyllic place, there are paths and road through traditional gardens and farms, there are flowers everywhere. In the summer there is lots entertainment and cultural activities and you can even make your own barbeque.


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