In 1987, on the first anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, an exposition of photographs "To the Memory of Courage and Honour" was held in Kiev. It was arranged by those who eliminated the damages caused by the accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the Fire Department officers of the Directorate of Internal Affairs of the Kiev Region. The exposition attracted much public attention. So, it was decided to establish a museum.
The Museum of Chernobyl was opened for visitors on 26 April, 1992, on the 6th anniversary of the accident.
The museum exposition tells about the biggest-ever manmade disaster, the accident at the fourth reactor of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, happened in April of 1986. The Museum collection numbers about 7,000 exhibits including the declassified documents, maps, photographs, the ethnic culture objects, and belongings of participants in emergency clean-up. However, the present-day collection has been assembled little by little because information about the accident, its causes and effects, has been strictly confidential. And the participants involved in the event were not allowed to speak the truth or tell anything related to the accident publicly. Many of the museum exhibits were made public for the first time ever. These were the documents, the top secret maps, and the photographs. Today, the exposition showcases the copies of the executive decisions of 1986 on the effecting of "The List of Information Subject to Secure Classification on the Accident at the Reactor #4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant" as well as the List itself consisting of 26 items; the decision of the Government Commission of 1987 regarding the further enhancement of information security and additions to the List are also kept in the Museum.
The Museum exposition is aimed to help the mankind to understand the Chernobyl disaster as a real factor of the possible end of the world, comprehend the lessons of the accident in all spheres of our life, make the world remember the lessons, and warn the next generations.
The keynote of the exposition is "The intellective power of humans is great but they should be liable for their deeds". It is no coincidence that the research fellows of the Museum have chosen the words "Est dolendi modus, non est timendi" (translated as "There is a limit to grief, but no limit to fear") to welcome the visitors.
Next the visitors meet a lifting gate with lights blinking alarmingly. It opens the door to a Chernobyl way. It is the symbolic Chernobyl road with a rooted out apple tree, the Biblical Tree of Life, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. And the living red apples originally symbolizing prosperity, joy, and well-being roll along the road toward the visitors reminding them about the life stopped in the picturesque Ukrainian Polesye. The road signs with names of 76 Ukrainian cities and villages of the Exclusion Zone around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant forever obliterated with radiation are hanging along the road over the visitors' heads.
People had always lived here for many thousand years. Now we can find here only fields and gardens prolific of weeds, deserted yards, godforsaken houses, and ruined territory. The living natural contact of generations had been broken. Who will live here in the future over 24,000 years (this is the half-life of plutonium, the radioactive agent contaminating Polesye)?
A gonfalon from the Church of St. John the Evangelist is hanging over the road. The church was built in town of Dlinny Les in the 19th century but in the 20th century it was in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Priest Ivan Golub kept the gonfalon and donated it to the Museum during the scientific and area search expedition in 1993. He carefully gathered the remains of old icons, books and the gonfalon surviving after the church was robbed by looters.
After the Chernobyl road the visitors come in the main room of the exposition. The floor is in the form of an anti-radiation plate of biological protection of the main reactor hall. An iconostasis stands in the room centre. The details of the iconostasis were brought here by the museum scientists from the Resurrection Church situated in the Exclusion Zone around Chernobyl. Under cover of the iconostasis a Polesye boat is swinging instead of a font. The boat is a symbol of Noah's Arch. According to the Biblical legend this was Noah who saved the terrestrial life from a worldwide deluge. And the Chernobyl accident is a sort of the deluge from which we try to save our future, our children. That is why children visiting the Museum leave their toys in the boat. Three figures liquidators in protective outerwear and respirators stand next to the iconostasis. Tow angels, white and black, good and evil, outspread their wings over the iconostasis. Photographs of children who were born after the disaster are arranged under the wings of the white angel as if under its protection. Photographs from the recent history of last 70 years are on the wings of the black angel. The room ceiling is made in the form of a symbolic world map where nuclear power plants are blinking with alarming lights; they are located in all continents of the world. Social posters dedicated to the nuclear problem are hanging on the walls.
Much attention is also paid to the up-to-date audiovisual and communication technologies in the exposition. The working three-phase diorama "The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station Before, During and After the Accident" impresses the visitors. They see the explosion and fracture of the Station and how "Sarcophagus" is raising over the destroyed reactor.
The exposition rooms also exhibit the working miniature of the reactor #4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station generating electric power, unique video records, computer programs about the accident and its effects. Also the unique electronic "Book of Condolence for Those who Eliminated the Damage Caused by the Accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station" is kept here. All information about the liquidators including their radiation doses is collected. The book contains more than five thousand names of liquidators. And it is still replenished.
Over the years of the Museum existence it has been visited by people from over 100 countries. Presidents of many countries, the UN Mission headed by Secretary General Kofi Annan, President of the OSCE Adrian Severin and others visited the Museum.
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