National Museum of Australia releases audio tour to support Ukraine

Audio tour enhances Feared and Revered exhibition in Canberra

The National Museum of Australia has released a Ukrainian-language audio guide for its blockbuster exhibition Feared and Revered: Feminine Power through the Ages.

In 2020, the First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, launched an initiative to introduce Ukrainian language audio guides into cultural institutions around the world, for the benefit of Ukrainian visitors and to promote Ukrainian language and culture.

Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, however, First Lady Zelenska, the wife of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said, ‘the project has taken on a new meaning.

‘It is not just a convenient tourist option – the audio guides make the Ukrainian language sound like a language of humanity and culture, as opposed to the barbarism of the aggressor.

‘Each new audio guide is a gesture of solidarity by a cultural institution with Ukraine. The native word helps our forcibly displaced people feel peaceful life and connection to their homeland,’ First Lady Zelenska said.

Today, the translation project includes over 60 Ukrainian language audio tours in 38 countries, including the Colosseum (Italy), Versailles (France), Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London (UK), Charlottenburg Palace (Germany), Albertina Gallery and Schönbrunn Palace (Austria), Dolmabahçe Palace (Türkiye), and many other cultural and historical landmarks.

The project was created so that Ukrainians living or travelling abroad could fully engage with local history and culture, and to promote the Ukrainian language around the world.

It is now being seen in the context of cultural institutions expressing their support for Ukraine in the context of the ongoing conflict in the Ukrainian region.

Australian Ambassador to Ukraine, HE Bruce Edwards, said the solidarity shown through the project is significant.

‘Russia’s illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine has caused untold misery and devastation, resulting in massive loss of life and property across the country. Russia has also embarked on a systematic effort to destroy Ukraine’s cultural heritage; yet in the face of such attacks, the strength and resilience of Ukraine’s culture and spirit has shown through,’ Ambassador Edwards said.

‘By proudly supporting projects such as this, Australia is supporting not only Ukraine’s culture, but the basis of its existence as a sovereign and independent nation,’ he said.

National Museum Director, Dr Mathew Trinca, praised the audio tour and those who helped develop it.

‘The Feared and Revered Ukrainian language audio tour makes this spectacular exhibition more accessible and meaningful to more people,’ Dr Trinca said.

Featuring more than 160 objects spanning six continents and 5,000 years, the Feared and Revered exhibition celebrates the power and diversity of female spiritual beings and explores how goddesses, demons, witches, spirits and saints have shaped our understanding of the world.

Highlights include a monumental 18th dynasty seated statue of the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet (1391–1353 BCE); an exquisitely carved carnelian ring featuring the head of Medusa with snakes in her hair (100 BCE – 100 CE); an early Roman seal depicting Adam and Eve; and one of the earliest sculptural depictions of the female form – a Cycladic violin-shaped figurine (2800 BCE).

Feared and Revered: Feminine Power through the Ages from the British Museum is on until 27 August 2023.

Details: Feared and Revered audio tour in Ukrainian

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