The Waste Museum in Kiev

Located on the outskirts of Kiev, the Waste Museum is seldom included in tours of Ukraine’s capital city, nor is it often found on most tourism guides, but it is a fascinating place to visit nonetheless. As is the case with the majority of museums, the Waste Museum focuses on history, but in a most unusual way considering that all the exhibits have been rescued from the garbage dump.

The collection displayed in the Waste Museum was started in the early 1950s by employees of the City Secondary Resources Plant in Kiev. In the course of their working day employees often came across interesting items that people have discarded. They started putting these to one side and the collection grew at quite a rate. These were cleaned up and sorted out for display at the museum, which opened to the public in 2007. Currently the museum has literally thousands of items on display, some of which are more than 200 years old.

The museum is divided into two sections – an open air exhibition that visitors can browse through unattended and an enclosed area. The more delicate items are displayed under cover and while items are displayed in a manner that is easy to view, there is no particular theme. Visitors will come across ancient religious icons displayed alongside rusty hand grenades, while an enormous anchor lies behind a 19th century French piano. Other items on display include a variety of musical instruments, carved furniture and paintings. A beautifully carved sideboard holds porcelain plates and dishes, while wooden barrels in all sizes share a corner with cribs, woven baskets and an assortment of farm instruments. To demonstrate that the old gramophone still works, the guide obligingly turns the handle and love songs from the 1930s fill the air.

Visitors are sure to appreciate how far technology has come after examining displays of old irons that were filled with embers to heat them in order to iron clothing. Some of the very first models of vacuum cleaners and hair driers can be seen, as well as an interesting collection of old cameras, telephones and radio transmitters. A corner dedicated to Lenin showcases a range of Lenin busts in front of a wall covered in Lenin portraits and USSR flags. Some of the items are quite valuable and often collectors enquire about buying them, but generally they are not for sale.

While the Waste Museum may not be promoted by tourism agencies, it is well worth a visit if you should have the good fortune to be exploring Kiev You will have the opportunity to see first-hand how one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.