Mother of God, Gate of Dawn, Sofia Atlantova, 2022. On loan from Ruah Donnelly

Artists for Ukraine: Transforming Ammo Boxes into Icons

November 3, 2022 – February 12, 2023

The Museum is pleased to showcase three icons painted on the boards of ammunition boxes by Oleksandr Klymenko and Sofia Atlantova, a husband-wife artistic team from Kyiv.

The project “Buy an Icon—Save a Life” was developed by Atlantova and Klymenko after the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine when Klymenko encountered empty wooden ammunition boxes from combat zones and noted their resemblance to icon boards (doski). By repurposing the panels, the project strives to “transform death (symbolized by ammo boxes) into life (traditionally symbolized by icons in Ukrainian culture). The goal, this victory of life over death, happens not only on the figurative and symbolic level but also in reality through these icons on ammo boxes.”

Exhibitions of the ammo box icons have been staged throughout Europe and North America to raise awareness of the ongoing war in Ukraine. In addition, sales have provided substantial funds to support the Pirogov First Volunteer Mobile Hospital, the largest nongovernmental undertaking to provide medical assistance to the Donbas region. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 strengthened the resolve of Atlantova and Klymenko to continue painting icons on boards taken back from the frontlines.

Tree of Life: Birch Through the Ages

November 3, 2022 – January 29, 2023

Curated by Simone Tricca

The birch tree serves many purposes in Slavic culture – it is a versatile material for traditional crafts, an ancient symbol of sorrow and renewal, and a representation of the land and people. Centered around six unique icons created by Siberian artist Vladimir Tulyak from layers of birch bark, this installation brings together representations of birch in Slavic art, poetry, and craft. Seen together, these works create connections between the traditional, pagan roots of the birch motif and its later uses in Christian belief and contemporary Slavic life.

Swan Lake: 145 Years of History and Triumph

An exhibition of photographs, costumes, and historical documents from a private collection

On view November 10, 2022 – February 26, 2023

On February 20, 1877 the ballet Swan Lake premiered at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. The ballet was first met with harsh criticism; Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s composition was deemed noisy, and the ballerinas disliked the fast-paced movements. Years later, a revival of the production at the Mariinsky Theatre generated a new appreciation, helping to shape it into one of the most famous ballets today. As part of an educational project “Ballet of the 20th Century,” organized by collector Yana Veselova, this mini exhibition works to preserve the memory of the choreography and ballet dancers of the 19th and 20th centuries through original black and white photographs, costume pieces, and theater playbills from France, Russia, Australia, England, and the United States.