On September 17, the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation presented the concept of a unique Project-the Museum of Civilian Voices. This is an online Museum whose task is to objectively and fully document the testimonies of civilians who suffered as a result of the armed conflict in the Donbas.
– Today we will not be able to open a Museum in Donetsk, so we are creating it online. It will work as an online archive, online exhibitions, online and offline projects, and also as a media. Rinat Akhmetov helped, helps and will continue to help the peaceful residents of Donbass. In 2014, a Humanitarian Center was established, which provided unprecedented assistance and, in fact, saved a million lives. During these six years, Rinat Akhmetov has heard tens of thousands of times in letters, stories, and social media posts the stories of civilians about the war and their words of gratitude. And now, to preserve these testimonies, the Voices of Peace Museum is being created, which is based on the stories of people in the mining region, " Natalia Yemchenko, a member of the Supervisory Board of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation said.
Historians, representatives of UNICEF and the Office of the United Nations high Commissioner for refugees, psychologists, ambassadors, people's deputies and media leaders attended the presentation of the Museum's concept. Each of them was immediately immersed in the atmosphere of the Museum being created at the entrance to the hall reserved for the presentation. Photos of peaceful People who had already told their stories, which became part of the Museum, were placed all over the space. These video monologues were broadcast on the screens.
Artefacts of people whose lives were divided into before and after because of the Donbass tragedy attracted a lot of attention: children's toys, office keys, books riddled with shrapnel... Each item hid the pain and despair of a particular family.
The Museum of Civilian Voices is already the largest collection of stories of the people of Donbass in Ukraine-it has a thousand testimonies. The task of the Foundation and the Museum is to create the world's main archive of Peace stories. It is planned to collect 100,000 testimonies by 2025, but the big dream is a million stories.
– The main task of the Museum is to collect, systematize and show the world the testimonies of the residents of Donbass who were in the war and are experiencing it right now. All stories are in the first person, primarily in the format of video confessions, video interviews. We believe that in this way we preserve voices from the past and present for the sake of a better future, " Natalia Yemchenko said.
According to her, the Museum is a space where Civilians can openly tell their personal story, without fear of anything. Tell them to free themselves from the burden of silence and enable people around the world to hear, see, understand with their minds and feel with their hearts every confession. With her memory, with her pain, with her faith, with her hope.
The Foundation's unprecedented documentary project to collect stories of Peace started in February 2020, but preparations for it began much earlier. The Foundation held consultations with representatives of the scientific community. Conducted hackathons for historians, psychologists, and sociologists to discuss how to objectively and fully document evidence. The Foundation follows global trends, offering to document the conflict in Eastern Ukraine based on eyewitness accounts.
The idea of the Museum of Civilian Voices belongs to Rinat Akhmetov. The project concept was developed with the participation of reputable Ukrainian and international Museum experts. One of them is Kevin Bolton, a British brand and web consultant who recently worked with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, as well as a number of European Museum projects. The logo and other visual symbols of the Museum combine a human fingerprint and voice diagrams.
– In Identics, we wanted to show that every story is unique, just like every voice. Before starting to develop the Museum's identity, we received a lot of materials about the Donbass from the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation, in particular the book "Donbass and peaceful", released by the Foundation. People's stories put us in context, which helped us work, " says Kevin Bolton.
Lizzie Moriarty, a British specialist in Museum projects, who is active in collaboration with the British Museum, said that the work on the project of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation will arouse great interest of researchers:
- The Museum of Peace stories will become an important resource for researchers who study and will study the armed conflict in the Donbas. The huge advantage of the online format is that the materials will be available to everyone anywhere in the world at any time."
One of the first projects of the Museum of Civilian Voices. Stories. Olga Guk, chief project editor of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation, spoke about it in detail.
- Collecting stories is a complex and very important process for the characters themselves. Because storytelling on their part is part of working with the "trauma of war". That is why we attract psychologists to work on the collection of stories and to compile questionnaires, and to design interviews, and to the functionality of the portal, – Olga Guk said.
Ekaterina Vepro, a psychologist and expert at the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation, agrees with her:
– Thanks to the Museum's portal, people will feel that they have not been forgotten. They will understand that it is important for others to hear their stories. Of course, it's hard to open up and tell your story in a peaceful way, but when a person talks about what happened to them, what path they went through, they share their pain. This platform will also bring together residents of Donbass who are on different sides of the contact line. They will be able to hear each other. This project can be an important step towards establishing peace in the Donbas.
Natalia Yemchenko noted that the Museum will implement projects at the intersection of science, journalism and art. One of the first journalistic projects was called "Interview. Museum of Civilian Voices".
– We will create a collection of 150 interviews of famous Donetsk and Luhansk residents who found themselves in the epicenter of the armed conflict. For the Museum's opening in November, we will create the first series of such interviews. We are currently working on choosing an interviewer, perhaps it will be one of the Fund's ambassadors, - Natalia Yemchenko said.
The first offline project of the Museum will be the laying of alleys. The Foundation will plant the first thousand bushes as a symbol of the first thousand stories told during the week of Peace in Mariupol and Zaporozhye. And the first alleys will appear next year.
- Roses are a symbol of Donetsk. We will plant them in the cities of Ukraine every year. The number of roses will correspond to the number of stories told, - Natalia Yemchenko added.
Authenticity and historical value are among the main priorities of the Museum. Therefore, people of science will be involved in the work on the archive. The Museum's consultant was the historian Yevgen Monastyrsky, a migrant from Luhansk.
– At the heart of any war is a person. Human testimonies are the main source, the main material for reconstructing the fabric of historical events. The more evidence, the more objective the picture. It is the dream of any historian to be able to talk to direct participants of events. We are lucky that so many people are willing and able to share their stories, - Yevgen Monastyrsky said.
The Museum of Civilian Voices is not just a national project. This is a world-class project. It will become a window through which the world community can look to understand the residents of Donbass and make up their own idea of the lives of millions of ordinary people who are trapped in this situation.
The collected stories will be published by the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation in the public domain. The online Museum's website will also have a special form for anyone who wants to share their story.
You can share your story by clicking on the link.