THE GREEK CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESAN MUSEUM IN LVIV (Greckokatolickie Muzeum Archidiecezjalne we Lwowie)
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In Ukraine, the process of a systemic collection of works of sacral art became first discernible at the turn of the nineteenth century, with the greatest role performed by the clergy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. A particular contribution was made by the Metropolitan Archbishop Andrei Sheptytsky who in 1909 established Studion - an art museum at the monastery of the Studite Brethren and (from 1917) by the Studite Archimandrite Father Clement (Kazimierz) Sheptystky (Metropolitan Archbishop's brother). During the 1920s he purchased a private collection of icons which subsequently became the foundation of the Studion Museum at the St. Josaphat monastery in Piotr Skarga Street in Lviv. Apart from protecting sacral art, the Studites opened monastic schools of icon painting. One was established in 1927 at a monastery in Lviv, and another in 1933 at the Holy Dormition Lavra in Univ. In 1940 the Soviet authorities forbade the further activity of Studion. The death of Andrei Sheptytsky in 1944 was followed by persecutions and repressions of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, liquidated in 1946 at a pseudo-council convened by the Soviet authorities. Well aware of the tragic situation, Archimandrite Clement entrusted part of the collections, including 99 icons from the Studion, to the National Museum in Lviv. During the Soviet occupation the authorities made all possible efforts to destroy Ukrainian culture and deprive it of its national and sacral heritage - in 1952 they set fire to an enormous number of monuments. The return of liberty and the legitimisation of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church enabled the monks to 'emerge from the underground' and inaugurate work, continued to this day; to a great extent, their undertakings consist of innumerable expeditions intent on salvaging works of art discovered in the attics of old thatched bell towers, assorted church nooks, or even 'church rubbish heaps'. In the course of 15 years of expeditions conducted by the article's author and his tireless companions - Hierodeacon Antoni (Stefanishin) and Brother Bonifat (Ivashkiv), they gathered and safeguarded more than 4 000 art works. Today, the collections serve, i. a. scientific and conservation purposes. The Museum organizes scientific conferences attended by numerous representatives of science, art and culture, and publishes material constituting valuable scientific sources. Education and research are one of the Museum's priorities. On 20 January 2008 Ihor (Wozniak), the Greek Catholic Archbishop of Lviv, decided that the former church of St. Kazimierz (Casmir) in 1 Kryvonosa Street should be turned into a Museum of the Lviv Archdiocese of the Greek Catholic Church, in which forgotten exhibits are not only featured and studied. In this exceptional museum, which is the site of daily celebrations of the Divine Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom, they are once again the objects of a religious cult. The establishment of a museum is connected with great hopes for the creation of an East European Scientific-Research Centre, whose tasks will encompass concern for the protection, popularization and development of Christian culture in Eastern Europe.
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