Bodan and Varvara Khanenko Museum of Art in Kiev

Housing the largest collection of foreign art in Ukraine, the Bogdan and Varvara Khanenko Museum of Art is located off the Taras Shevchenko Boulevard in Kiev. Also referred to as the Museum of Western and Oriental Art, the museum is renowned for its extensive collection of sculptures, paintings, etchings and decorative arts from the Middle East, Far East and Western Europe. The Renaissance-style museum building is itself an historic treasure dating back to the mid-1800s. It was commissioned by husband and wife patrons of the arts, Bogdan and Varvara Khanenko, featuring the family coat of arms and three decorative towers.

As a generous patron of the arts, Bogdan Khanenko purchased a variety of artworks from auctions in Berlin, Paris, Vienna and Madrid, as well as obtaining up to one hundred pieces of art from auctions in Rome and Florence, Italy. Upon his death in December 1918, Varvara Khanenko donated her husband’s entire collection to the city of Kiev, and in June 1919 the collection was declared a museum of the state.

Unfortunately, during the Soviet era and World War II, many of the museum’s works of art were removed by occupying forces. Following the war, some of the original collection was recovered, and over the years more items were added, and it is currently believed to consist of more than 25,000 exhibits, making it the largest collection of its kind in Ukraine.

Spanning a period from the 6th century through to the 20th century, some of the most notable artworks in the collection include Portrait of Infanta Margaret by Diego Velazquez; St Francis by Luis de Morales; A Storm in the Sea by Claude Joseph Vernet; and Portrait of a Carusian Bishop by Claudio Coello. Other artists whose works are displayed in the museum include Gentile Bellini, Francisco Zurbaran, Jacob Jordaens, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, and Peter Paul Rubens. In addition to paintings, the Bogdan and Varvara Khanenko Museum of Art boasts a collection of Egyptian statues and bronze sculptures, Roman and Greek sculptures, Byzantine pieces, as well as antique glassware, terracotta, textiles, icons, jewelry and ivory.

With its wealth of artistic treasures, a visit to the Bogdan and Varvara Khanenko Museum of Art should be added to the itinerary of visitors to Kiev who have an appreciation for art.