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The house will be dried first, and then placed under the museum’s roof

The National Museum of Folk Architecture and Life of Ukraine is hosting a rescue operation for Ukraine’s only extant 16th century wooden house that is suffering from water rot
3 December, 2013 - 12:12
ALMOST TWO WEEKS AGO THE MUSEUM BEGAN MOTHBALLING: AT FIRST ITS EMPLOYEES REMOVED STRAW FROM THE ROOF, THEN THEY WILL BE DRYING UP THE ALMOST HALF A MILLENNIUM-OLD WOODEN BLOCKHOUSES / Photo courtesy of the Petro Tronko Foundation

The collection of the National Museum of Folk Architecture and Life saw its last restoration effort more than 40 years ago, so some attractions are now in need of immediate rescue. One of them is the unique 16th century wooden house, brought to the museum from Samary village in Volyn region back in the Soviet time. Experts say it is the only extant house of the era in the whole of Ukraine, and if we do not save it now, a bit of our culture will be lost forever.

The museum sees the house as a centerpiece of the collection. There is even an inscription on one of its walls giving the date of its creation as 1587. However, because the house stood for many years on the open ground in the rain and snow, lacking the necessary foundation and waterproofing, its wooden framework began to deteriorate. The structure suffered especially serious damage after the March snowfall. As the museum’s director general Dmytro Zaruba stated, the rescue ought to start back in the spring.

 

It could not, though, due to lack of funding. The museum received no money at all for a few months this year because of an inter-agency transfer (it was under the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine before, but now is under the Ministry of Culture). The Tronko Foundation, inspired by the Hero of Ukraine, Academician Petro Tronko’s role as a founder of the museum, also joined the rescue operation, preparing letters to the Minister of Defense and foreign experts. German corporation Remmers, said to be Europe’s leading restorer, answered the museum’s call for help.

 The German specialists arrived to Ukraine in October to inspect the house and give their recommendations. According to their findings, some parts of the framework have moisture content of 85 percent, whereas restoration can be done only with moisture not exceeding 5 to 6 percent. Therefore, drying the wooden framework is the first priority.

 “To this end, the Ministry of Defense will provide a large military tent to the museum that will completely shelter the house and protect it from the elements for the restoration’s duration,” the Tronko Foundation’s chair Larysa Tronko told The Day. “We will need then to install ventilation system in the house and start to carefully dry wood. Any sudden drying of the house will turn it into dust. Since Ukraine lacks specialists with the needed skills, we are looking for help from foreign corporations, too.”

 Ukrainian restorer, full member of the Academy of Architecture, Professor Leonid Prybieha presented his opinion on the Samary house rescue operation, too. He agrees that necessary priority measures include making a concrete foundation, complete waterproofing and re-thatching of its roof. But, to preserve the attraction and its authentic wooden framework for as long as possible, he suggests keeping it after restoration under the museum’s roof where the required temperature and humidity regime can be maintained.

 According to the experts’ preliminary estimates, the rescue effort will cost 200,000 hryvnias. So far, the museum carries out the priority measures at its own expense.

By Inna LYKHOVYD, The Day
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