To enter the Potocki Palace, one of the architectural gems of western Ukraine, you have to show your credentials, pass between armed soldiers, sneak under scaffolding. All this to discover bare picture rails.
In Lviv, even though life has almost returned to normal since the Russian forces left the kyiv region and are concentrating their offensive on the south and east of the country, the museums are barely ajar, convinced that the enemy is ready to plunder Ukrainian cultural heritage.
“We would like to reopen a little, but it is complicated in terms of security”, explains Vassyl Mytsko, deputy director of the National Gallery of Lviv, the largest museum of Fine Arts in Ukraine with its collection of 65,000 works and its 21 locations. “How can we be sure that the Russians aren’t just recovering their strength before launching all their rockets?” »
On February 24, the war took the staff of the Gallery by surprise, who “did not expect the strikes to go so far” and threaten their city, says Vassyl Mytsko. At first “shocked”, the curators quickly got to work and carefully packaged paintings and sculptures. These works, some of which are worth millions, were kept safe in secret locations, where they are still to be found today.