A Peek Into
Top Museums in Kiev

Thanks to the Internet, it’s easy to plan a trip to another city or country with the help of numerous maps, applications and articles. Having searched famous attractions and decided on your destination, you look for somewhere to stay and good places to eat. But life doesn’t depend on bread and meat alone; we also need spiritual food. And for that, Kiev has several must-visit museums that not only defy boredom but can make your stay in the city much more fascinating and meaningful. Before you come to Kiev, check out these unique and utterly Ukrainian museums, which are unlike anything else you’ll find on Earth. I hope you’re looking forward eagerly to taking this little excursion to Kiev museums with me. Here we go!

Kiev Water Museum

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Kiev Water Museum, also known as the Water Information Center, is as entertaining as it is educational. Situated in the restored 19th-century city water tower, itself a historic site, the museum offers an inside look at Kiev’s water-supply and water-treatment systems. An experienced guide (English and French-speaking guides are available) will tell you about the city’s first water supply system, about the irreversible processes generated by human activity and their influence on the ecology as a whole, and how to use water more efficiently in daily life. A tour of 35 to 40 minutes will introduce you to the planet’s hydrosphere and take you deep into an interactive part of the exhibit. One hall is transformed into a grotto where you can take a virtual journey around the continents, discovering the way water shapes the planet through waterfalls, geyser eruptions and glacial melts. There are many interesting exhibits such as models of water towers and sewage systems, samples of ancient pipes, and a huge toilet bowl half the height of a man. Interactive exhibits give you the opportunity to alter a river bed, provoke lightning and thunder, and stand inside a soap bubble for a while — or blow the bubble yourself (a delightful activity for kids and adults alike). A huge aquarium stocked with Japanese fish is another popular exhibit, but be careful not to have your fingers bitten off! As the Kiev Water Museum is very popular, at times you may need to wait in line for 10 or 15 minutes. And be sure to bring cash for the ticket; cards are not accepted. Welcome to the subterranean world of water and sewerage!

  • Prices: Entrance fee and tour (in Ukrainian or English) UAH 50, children UAH 40. Note, it is best to make a reservation if you plan a tour on weekdays.
  • Hours: 10 am – 4 pm (Wednesday – Friday), 10 am – 5 pm (Saturday, Sunday); closed Monday and Tuesday. Entrance of the last group is 60 minutes before closing.
  • Phone no.: +38 044 279 53 33
  • Address: Kreshchatiy park, 1 V Grushevskogo Str. (the nearest metro stations – Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Poshtova Ploshcha)
  • Website: www.aqua-kiev.info

Mykola Syadristy Museum, or the Museum of Micro Miniatures

It won’t take more than an hour of your time to examine these one-of-a-kind masterpieces. I highly recommend you to pay attention not only to the miniatures themselves but also to the descriptions accompanying them. Visit this museum and you will not only see tiny and beautiful items but also understand that there are no limits to our capabilities when we’re doing what we love. To get to the museum, use the central entrance to the complex, where you can buy a separate ticket if you don’t want to visit the rest of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra.

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here are only four museums in the world that show us the universe of micro miniatures, and one of them is situated in Kiev, in the Kiev Pechersk Lavra monastery complex. This unparalleled collection is the work of artist Mykola Syadritsky, who employed special technologies, much passion and great patience in creating each of its 20 delightful hand-made exhibits. You’ll marvel at Syadritskiy’s creativity in conceiving such masterpieces as a twining rose inside a hollowed-out hair, a life-size flea made of gold and wearing golden shoes, a camel caravan sculpted within the eye of a needle, a balalaika in a poppy, and so on. Just the descriptions sound extraordinary, but when you look at these incredibly tiny works of art through a microscope you will be absolutely amazed. The museum’s micro miniatures delight not only with their beauty and size but also with the artist’s engineering genius.
Just imagine: the smallest operating electromotor in the world, on display here, is almost 20 times smaller than a poppy seed. The most miniature of all books that have ever been made is the illustrated 12-page Kobzar (The Bard) containing poems by the great Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, its size a mere 0.6 mm.

  • Prices: Adults UAH 40, children UAH 20
  • Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily
  • Phone no.: +38 044 279 53 33
  • Address: 9 Lavrska Str. (b.5), (the nearest metro station is Arsenalna)
  • Website: microart.kiev.ua

Experimentanium (museum of popular science and technology)

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hether you’re fascinated by chemistry and physics or just like to feed your soul with lively play and experimentation, Experimentanium is a great place to visit. According to its creators, the best way to learn about the world around us is to be in close contact with it. Here, you’re invited not just to look at exhibits but to conduct your own experiments in the fields of mechanics, molecular physics, electrical engineering, optics and acoustics. The permanent collection features about 250 interactive exhibits, many of them are great for bright young minds. Kids jump with joy while they learn how to build a bridge without nails, fly a cloud into the air, or get lost in the mirror labyrinth. Signs and helpful guides explain the exhibits and keep you from getting lost in this astonishing world of science. Experimentanium conducts individual or group (15 to 25 people), school or thematic tours, each of which usually lasts 45 to 60 minutes. You can also attend various shows where you will be able to see a gigantic nitrogen explosion, learn how Jedis recharge their swords, discover how to walk along the edge of a blade and learn how to make a glass invisible! If all this whets your kids’ appetite for science, drop in at the museum shop, where you can buy various kinds of creative activities, games and puzzles etc. The Experimentanium can also host birthday parties, where kids are invited to take part in an absorbing quest. Open the fascinating world of science at this Kiev museum and discover what an amazingly wonderful planet we inhabit.

  • Prices: Entrance fee is UAH 155 (children), UAH 190 (adults) on weekdays; or UAH 170 (children), UAH 210 (adults) on weekends. Additionally, tours are offered in Ukrainian or Russian (UAH 150) or English (UAH 200). Note, it’s best to make reservations for tours.
  • Hours: 9:30 am – 9 pm (Monday – Friday), 10 am – 8 pm (Saturday, Sunday and official holidays)
  • Phone no.: +38 096 477 97 91; +38 099 256 71 27
  • Address: 9 Stepana Bandery Ave. (the nearest metro station is Petrivka)
  • Website: experimentanium.com.ua

World War II Museum (Museum of the Great Patriotic War)

A lot of artifacts, including every type of weapon, uniform and machine imaginable, are represented in this museum, presenting a deep look at the war and its impact on Ukraine. The museum’s cool, quiet halls are a somber testament to the gravity of the conflict and vividly evoke those hard times. Loud, patriotic war songs are played through the museum sound system, while documents, photographs, newspapers and other materials in the displays explain the war, often through the personal stories of those who experienced it. Another exposition, “Na chuzhyh viynah” (“On foreign wars”), reveals the criminality of the political leadership of the former USSR but also honors the best qualities of the ordinary participants in those events. Very little of the museum is explained in English, so a decent knowledge of Russian will be helpful. However, it is possible to book a tour, which usually takes nearly 90 minutes. You’ll also have a unique opportunity to go up to the observation decks, located at heights of 36.6 and 91 meters, and enjoy a bird’s-eye panorama of Kiev. If you are not interested solely in picturesque Ukrainian life but are also ready to see its painful side, the Museum of the Great Patriotic War is worth visiting for a good summary of this traumatic period in history.

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]f you’ve been to Kiev, you will no doubt have seen the majestic statue of a woman with a sword in her right hand and a shield in her left. Installed on the slopes above the Dnipro, she is visible even from the most remote points of the city. The sculpture is a part of the World War II Museum, considered one of the country’s largest museums and devoted to the World War II conflict between the Soviet Union and Germany. Be ready to walk a lot, because the museum covers approximately 25 acres and contains more than 300,000 exhibits and related memorials. The main exposition stretches through 16 halls, and the so-called node of the exposition is “The Road of War,” which unites and connects all the halls thematically and chronologically.

  • Prices: Adults UAH 20, children UAH 3. Tour in Ukrainian UAH 60, children UAH 40. Tour in a foreign language UAH 100. Lower observation deck (36.6 m) costs UAH 50; higher observation deck (91m) UAH 200. Reservations are highly recommended.
  • Hours: 10 am – 6 pm (Monday – Friday), 10 am – 7 pm (Saturday, Sunday), 9th of May and 14th of October – free entrance
  • Phone no.: +38 044 285 94 52
  • Address: 27 Lavrska Str. (the nearest metro station is Arsenalna)
  • Website: warmuseum.kiev.ua

National Art Museum of Ukraine

Also extremely valuable is the museum’s collection of Ukrainian Baroque art: paintings, icons, polychrome sculptures and old printed books. On the first floor, you will be amazed by a large-scale painting that occupies the entire wall — The Entrance of Bohdan Khmelnytsky to Kyiv in 1649, by artist Mykola Ivasyuk, who spent two decades finishing it. The collection of the Ukrainian avant-garde of the 20th century is a very special one, thanks to the works of such recognized avant-garde masters as A. Exter, A. Arkhipenko and D. Burlyuk. There are many new works of art coming to museum’s collections today, such as the unique icon relief St. George in His Lifetime, dating to the 12th century; and works of the founder of international abstractionism, Kazimir Malevich, who was a native of Ukraine. Items drawn from the collections of the National Art Museum of Ukraine often become sensations when they go on tour with international exhibitions. And no wonder. You won’t notice how the time is flying while you are standing and staring at a charming landscape, or examining the depth of the eyes in a portrait. The National Art Museum of Ukraine is not the oldest in the world list of famous museums, but its prestige is growing steadily. On the last Sunday of the month, entrance to the museum is free.

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he pleasant surprises here begin on your way into the museum. Built in an attractive neoclassical style, the National Art Museum is one of Kiev’s architectural jewels. The entrance features massive columns and is guarded by two lions of a very unusual appearance. About 40,000 items are exhibited on the museum’s two floors, including Ukrainian painting, sculptures, and graphics from the periods of Kievan Rus till the present. The museum is highlighted by the best collection of iconography in Ukraine, going back to rare pieces from the 12th century. There are also wonderful landscapes of picturesque Ukrainian nature by Serhiy Vasylkivskiy, portraits by Ivan Murashko (including the famous A Girl With a Red Hat) and unique examples of the works of Taras Shevchenko and his followers.

  • Prices: Adults UAH 40, children UAH 10. Tour in Ukrainian UAH 250 (45 minutes for a group to 20 people)
  • Hours: 10 am – 5 pm (Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday), 12 am – 8 pm (Friday), 11 am – 7 pm (Saturday). Entrance of the last group is 60 minutes before closing.
  • Phone no.: +38 044 279 64 62
  • Address: 6 Mykhayla Grushevskogo Str. (the nearest metro station is Khreshchatyk)
  • Website: namu.kiev.ua

Ukrainian National Chornobyl Museum

The museum, opened in 1992, makes clear the scale of the catastrophe through the fate of thousands of people — participants in the event, witnesses and victims — and makes sense of the lessons learned through this tragedy in an effort to ensure they are not forgotten. The museum exhibits a variety of artifacts from the scene of the accident and is also decorated in a special way, including a cradle containing toys of children who lived in Chornobyl, paintings by contemporary artists on the topic of the catastrophe, a working model of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, a diorama showing the station before, during and after the explosion, and an electronic remembrance book dedicated to the “liquidators” — the military and civilian personnel who were called upon, at great risk to their own health and safety, to enter the site to prevent further devastating consequences. The exhibit stays away from conjecture, presenting simply facts as revealed through documents, photographs and even clothes. Above the entrance, a signboard proclaims the museum’s slogan: “Est dolendi modus, non est timendi.” (“There is a limit to sadness, but there is no limit to anxiety.”) Visitors cross a barrier with flashing lights and walk up the “Chornobyl Road” staircase, which shows the towns and villages that had to be abandoned forever as a result of the disaster. The ceiling of the main hall is in the form of a map of the world showing nuclear stations. We recommend booking a tour or paying for the audio guide, which is available in English and other Western languages. It will take no more than two hours to examine all the exhibits and learn about the disaster. Nobody remains indifferent after visiting this museum. Come and experience it yourself!

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ne thing many foreigners know about Ukraine is that it experienced the terrible Chornobyl tragedy in 1986, which became the most severe nuclear accident and ecological catastrophe of the 20th century. Unfortunately, it was not a passing concern for Ukrainians; the devastating impact of this event continues to be felt and will be transmitted to our descendants, too.

  • Prices: Adults UAH 10, children UAH 5. Tour 100 UAH (in Ukrainian or Russian) or UAH 200 (in English or German). Once inside you can also rent an English-language audio guide for UAH 50 (you’ll need to provide a deposit of UAH 100 that will be returned to you after you return the device). Entrance free on April 26 and May 18.
  • Hours: 10 am – 6 pm (Monday – Saturday)
  • Phone no.: +38 044 482 56 27
  • Address: 1 Khoryva Lane, (the nearest metro station is Kontraktova Ploshcha)
  • Website: chornobylmuseum.kiev.ua

National Museum of Natural History

There are 24 halls with more than 30,000 items on exhibit. You will have the opportunity to see unique kinds of plants, butterflies, insects, minerals, huge crabs and models of various animals, as well as a refuge of ancient people. At the heart of the museum, there is a complex of dioramas, some 30 landscapes depicting various bio groups. There is also a karst cave that you can enter for a nominal fee. The next exhibit made me really astonished – the hut made of mammoth bones. The museum’s vast collection means you’ll want to spend at least two hours here. It’s a great place to learn about chemistry, biology, geography and natural history, for both kids and adults looking to broaden their perspective on the world. It’s a busy place on weekends, so if you can, try to visit on a weekday. Unfortunately, descriptions on most of the exhibits are in Russian only, very little in English. But the museum is a great visual delight, so don’t worry too much. While it may not have the technological whiz-bang attractions of many modern museums, there’s an endearing quality to this museum, as well as a small gift shop with interesting items to purchase. If you are interested in the natural world, you won’t regret a visit here.

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he National Museum of Natural History at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine is one of the biggest scientific research museums of its type in the world. Located in the center of Kiev, the building itself draws attention, as it’s an old mansion with impressive architecture. Geological, paleontological, zoological and botanical museums are united under one roof, on four floors.

  • Prices: Adults UAH 60, children UAH 35. Tour UAH 120 (Ukrainian for a group to 8 people) or UAH 500 (in English). Reservations are required. Free admission on first Wednesday of each month.
  • Hours: 10 am – 5 pm (Wednesday – Friday), 11 am – 6 pm (Saturday, Sunday), closed Monday and Tuesday.
  • Phone no.: + 38 044 235 62 66
  • Address: 15 Bohdana Khmelnytskogo Str. (the nearest metro station is Teatralna)
  • Website: museumkiev.org