What happens to art caught in war’s crossfire?

As the conflict in Ukraine deepens, the damage to its cultural heritage reveals various motives behind this kind of destruction.
St. Nicholas Monastery Archangel Michael on Golden Domes. Kyiv, Ukraine.

As the devastating impacts of the war in Ukraine continue to be beamed worldwide, a growing number of Ukrainian cultural icons and monuments are also under attack. Already, a museum in Ivankiv – a city north-west of Kyiv – that housed works by cherished Ukrainian folk artist Maria Prymachenko has been destroyed, as well as several cultural buildings in the city of Kharkiv’s Freedom Square, including the Kharkiv State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre and the Kharkiv Philharmonic.

Unfortunately, targeting cultural treasures is nothing new in times of war, and history shows that there are often specific and deliberate motives for the destruction of art icons in wartime.

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ArtsHub's Arts Feature Writer Jo Pickup is based in Perth. An arts writer and manager, she has worked as a journalist and broadcaster for media such as the ABC, RTRFM and The West Australian newspaper, contributing media content and commentary on art, culture and design. She has also worked for arts organisations such as Fremantle Arts Centre, STRUT dance, and the Aboriginal Arts Centre Hub of WA, as well as being a sessional arts lecturer at The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA).