It’s an unlikely sequence of site uses, but it’s true. Where once a nunnery stood in Kyiv, a military facility was built at the end of the 18th century by Lieutenant and architect Ivan Meller. This factory and storage space, which served to aid the Red Army’s Soviet war efforts by way of manufacturing artillery and ammunition, became a cultural institution in 2010. (Interestingly, at the suggestion of another Ukrainian art heavyweight, Viktor Pinchuk)
Now part of Ukraine’s national flight forward and a fitting example of a kind of perestroika, the repurposed building is grand in size (over 60,000 m² of exhibition space) and ambitious in scope. Its mission is to contribute to the modernization of Ukrainian society and to further Ukraine’s integration in a global context.
As such, Mystetskyi Arsenal provides an open space where social issues can be broached in order to comprehend the past and envision a future. Various forms of art and a diverse array of cultural practices meet here: at the moment, Mystetskyi houses a literary laboratory, a laboratory of contemporary art and a theatrical laboratory.
Spread over three storeys, Mystetskyi Arsenal, housed in the oldest 19th century part of the structure – other parts are still used for military and civil manufacturing – displays the history of Ukrainian art from antiquity to the present, and hosts collections of masterpieces from leading world museums.
Step into a slice of history here, and let yourself get fired up with culture and history from Kyiv and beyond.