The Ukrainian Museum Commemorates the 25th Anniversary of the Chornobyl Disaster with Exhibition
NEW YORK, NY.- The world’s worst nuclear disaster took place at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine on April 26, 1986. Following an explosion in one of the plant’s reactors, a plume of radioactive fallout contaminated a huge area surrounding the plant and drifted across parts of the western Soviet Union and nearly all of Europe. After the accident, nearby towns and villages were evacuated and later abandoned. Some 350,000 people lost their homes. In the subsequent clean-up, 850,000 workers were exposed to radiation.
As the disaster faded from the headlines, it also faded from most people’s thoughts. What remained was an image of Chornobyl as a wasteland – forsaken, inaccessible, dangerous. And yet, as the photographic exhibition Inside Chornobyl clearly shows, life continues in the radiation-affected areas a generation later. Six million people still live in the contaminated region, an area of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia covering 56,700 square miles (about the size of New York State). More than 3,800 employees continue to work at the Chornobyl plant today.
Inside Chornobyl, produced by American photojournalist Michael Forster Rothbart and presented in collaboration with the Children of Chornobyl Relief and Development Fund, is a provocative exhibition that chronicles the aftermath of the disaster and explores the lives of the people directly affected by it. It features photographs taken by Forster Rothbart while he lived in the area for two years, following the daily lives of five families in order to gain access to events and people with an insider’s perspective. The exhibition also includes photographs by Alexander Kupny (a Ukrainian photographer and instructor at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant Training Center), descriptive text, and excerpts from interviews that Forster Rothbart conducted with 82 survivors of the disaster – all documenting the effects of the Chornobyl catastrophe on the surrounding communities.
In conjunction with Inside Chornobyl, The Ukrainian Museum and the Children of Chornobyl Relief and Development Fund (CCRDF) present the exhibition The Chornobyl Angel Project: A Children’s Book Illustrated by Children. Written and illustrated by children, the book Chornobyl Angel resulted from an initiative by Anna Korolevska, the director of the National Chornobyl Museum in Kyiv, who invited students at local art schools to illustrate paragraphs of text from the book; of the 81 watercolors submitted, 24 were chosen for publication. The Ridna Shkola Ukrainian school in Whippany, New Jersey, also took part in the project.
The 10 Chornobyl Angel works that are displayed at The Ukrainian Museum are on loan from the National Chornobyl Museum; they are shown alongside photographs from the Chornobyl Museum’s archives.
The CCRDF is publishing Chornobyl Angel as a tribute to, and reminder of, the victims of the Chornobyl catastrophe 25 years ago. Together, the CCRDF and the National Chornobyl Museum have dedicated the book to all the men, women, and children around the world who have been affected by nuclear disasters.