The Cleveland Ukrainian Museum-Archives: Its Role as a Cultural Ambassador

By Teena Jennings-Rentenaar and Aniza Kraus.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Ukrainians have a history of emigration to North America beginning in the early 1800’s. One of the communities that welcomed them was Tremont, located in south central Cleveland, Ohio in the United States and home to many other ethnic/cultural groups. This area, quickly becoming a Ukrainian enclave, with churches, schools and social clubs, is identifiable by its now historically significant architecture. As the Ukrainian population prospered, they moved away and Tremont became a nexus for other ethnic and newly arriving groups. Today, for example, various Hispanic cultures use Tremont as their entry point into the North American way of life. What stayed behind in this area was the Cleveland Ukrainian Museum-Archives (UMA). A recent and comprehensive donation of Ukrainian artifacts, including 450+textiles, has prompted, with the help of a major Ohio Humanities Council grant, the undertaking of a project to showcase these textiles, which include examples of early pre-Russian occupation textiles. The textiles are astounding in their colorful display of motifs, rendered in complicated weaving and embroidery techniques. They represent the households and dress of the individual villages and their citizens throughout Ukraine. Many of the techniques used in creating these textiles are no longer familiar to the North American Ukrainian population, who are anxious to restore, if not the actual skills, at least a familiarity with the various techniques. With the museum situated where it is, this project promised to serve the North American Ukrainian diaspora as well as the other ethnic groups of the neighborhood, resulting in an interesting cross-linking of ethnic information- gathering, interest and respect. In this way, this museum serves as the keeper as well as the proud disseminator of culturally significant information while, at the same time, operating as an ambassador among other equally proud cultural groups.

Keywords: Cross-Cultural Museum Role, Ethnic Textiles, Ukrainian Diaspora

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.1-10. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 896.571KB).

Dr. Teena Jennings-Rentenaar

Associate Professor, School of Family and Consumer Sciences, College of Health Sciences and Human Services, The University of Akron, Granville, OH, USA

Teena has been a faculty member at The University of Akron since 2001, teaching courses in textile science. She received a M.Sc. in Textile Science and Textile Conservation from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada as well as a Ph. D. in Textile Science and Material Culture Studies from The Ohio State University. This background leaves her perfectly poised to utilize museum collections for studying textile techniques no longer being practiced. This is particularly relevant for textile makers in the developing world as they coordinate themselves into co-operatives and focus on income generation using traditional art/craft methods. Using the evidence available from collected artifacts as reference points, maintaining a community’s design aesthetic despite economic pressures to change becomes possible.

Aniza Kraus

Curator, Cleveland Ukrainian Museum-Archives, OH, USA

Aniza has considerable experience in collections management and conservation. She received her M.A. in Art History from Case Western Reserve University and BFA in Photography from the University of Cincinnati. Aniza produces four to six exhibits annually while managing the volunteer and college internship program. She received a major grant from the Ohio Humanities Council to promote the textiles from the enormous collection of Ukrainian folk art donated by the Hnatiuk family. She established a comprehensive conservation program at the UMA and continues her research, while collaborating with area scholars and researchers.

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