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    BRAMA News and Community Press

    BRAMA, December 9, 2002, 1:00 am ET

    Museum reaches new heights: a tree topping ceremony of another kind
    — by H.Krill

    New York, December 8, 2002 - The cold temperatures did nothing to chill the warmth in the hearts of supporters who turned out for the latest milestone in the construction phase of the Ukrainian Museum in the East Village. The final beam to top off the 3rd floor of the steel infrastructure was put into place, thus marking the next and shortest phase in the process - putting up walls and building the interior space.

    The Ukrainian Museum in New York is the culmination of a dream who's origins can be traced back to the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. There, a small collection of folk costumes assembled by the Ukrainian National Women's League of America (UNWLA) was displayed. Subsequently this turned into a road show of sorts that grew larger and larger over time. Eventually, the UNWLA established a permanent exhibition with the collection at its headquarters on Second Avenue, and this is what became the landmark Ukrainian Museum in New York City. The Museum holdings branched into 3 major collections: folk art, fine art, and archives. It soon became apparent that even more exhibition and storage space would be required.

    George Sawicki

    In 1985, the Museum undertook to purchase a lot on East 6th Street and began fund-raising for the new facility. As time passed, costs rose, and it seemed as if the funding would never catch up to the required level to initiate construction - at least not until two angels came along catapulting the plans forward with an unexpected and sizable donation. In December of 2000 Eugene and Daymel Shklar stunned the Ukrainian community when they awarded the Museum with a $2.5 million grant, plus a $1 million challenge grant for matching funds. On the heels of the Shklar grant came a generous $500,000 donation from the Self Reliance New York Federal Credit Union.

    The board of trustees had already approved designs for the new structure, so the Museum got right to work on the construction process. Permits had to be obtained, contractors hired, and demolition of the old structure on the property could proceed. A delay of several months was caused by concerns that one building abutting the property may be endangered. An agreement was finally reached with the owner of the neighboring structure to shore up the walls before proceeding with the demolition.

    The last of the original building on 6th Street was torn down by August 1 of this year and the new one has been on the rise ever since. Architect George Sawicki expects completion of the project in the summer of 2003. The last phase of the process will be to outfit the interior with all the necessary gallery props and other furnishings. The Museum is expected to open to the public in 2004.

    At yesterday's ceremonial event, major contributors and many of those who have worked to make the museum a reality signed the last beam. It was then hoisted to the top and carefully put in place by the construction crew, who "beamed" with pride as the onlookers tearfully applauded.

    The Ukrainian Museum invites the public to participate in the unique opportunities offered in its funding and naming program. Request a donation kit by writing to: Visit the Museum website:
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