Academic journal article Change Over Time

The Place of the Venice Charter Principles in the Context of National Cultural Revival in Ukraine after 1991

Academic journal article Change Over Time

The Place of the Venice Charter Principles in the Context of National Cultural Revival in Ukraine after 1991

Article excerpt

Due to Cold War complications, Soviet specialists had very limited involvement with the development of the Venice Charter. Instead, they developed an independent system of rules and regulations in the preservation and restoration of cultural heritage in the Soviet Union and its republics.2 This methodological system was mainly built on the subordination of preservation practice to the rules of a planned economy, the necessity of "folk economics," and the role of monuments in the ideological and aesthetic education of the people. That led to a priority being placed on the restoration and renovation of architectural objects, which was a massive necessity after the destruction of World War II.

The Venice Charter principles were first published in a short article entitled "Restoration (in Architecture and Arts)" by E. Mychaylovsky for the Big Soviet Encyclopedia (196978). This allowed a wide audience to become acquainted with the latest international achievements. Only in 1974 was the whole document translated into Russian and published in the digest "Methodology and Practice of Preservation of Architectural Monuments," and only one thousand brochures were published exclusively for professionals.3

Even though the publication of the document took a decade, the professional community in the Soviet Union was acquainted with its main principles through seminars and conferences. For example, in 1964, the scientific conference devoted to the conservation of stonework was held in Moscow. In 1966, a special meeting on the problems of the preservation of ruined structures took place in the State Archeological and Historic Reserve of Chersonese in Sevastopol.4

Since the Venice Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites was signed in 1964, its effect on historic preservation and the professional community of Ukraine (at that time the Ukrainian Republic of the Soviet Union) has been significant. It started with a limited number of references and in time amplified into a strong argument, promulgated in every meeting of historic preservation professionals. Further dissemination of the Venice Charter ideas and its obvious contradiction to the established practice of restoration in the Soviet Union created wide discussions on the goals and key principles of preservation. The effect of those discussions was to increase the understanding that historic preservation can be managed, not only through governmental standards, laws, and regulations, but through the application of theoretical principles and approaches.5 Conflict between supporters and opponents of the Venice Charter fostered extreme positions of preservation methodology and practice that led to further confrontation.

A year after Ukraine gained Independence in 1992, the Venice Charter was first translated and published in Ukrainian by one of the major national scientific institutions in historic preservation: the Center of Monumentology of the National Academy of Science.6 Ukraine became a member of the International Council on Monuments and Sites in 1994. As part of its new membership in ICOMOS, the country created the National Committee of ICOMOS, which comprises more than 150 professionals.

For now, the vast majority of professionals involved in historic preservation in Ukraine are familiar with the Venice Charter. It is used as a strong and decisive argument in all debates about the destiny of an architectural monument or a site, so as to prevent negative or controversial impacts. But through time and challenging circumstances, the relevancy of the Venice Charter principles have been questioned and reviewed many times.7

Exceptional Circumstances

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, all newly independent states experienced significant development of the national idea. They underwent a fundamental review of social and cultural priorities, including the attitude toward historic objects. Rediscovery of a national identity, a return to lost cultural values, and a wave of a national resurgence were reflected in the fundamental principles of preservation. …

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