About us

Dear Partners, Team, Friends!

The year 2022 passed for me and for the NGO "Tustan" under the sign of HERI – Heritage Emergency Rescue Initiative. On the evening of March 3, at the beginning of a full-scale war, Ihor Poshivaylo came to Lviv with the mission of the Maidan Museum, we met in the evening at a gas station for a coffee, and within an hour we were on our way to Tustan's office to launch HERI – Heritage Emergency Rescue Initiative. The next morning, there was a meeting with the "old" museum security team from the time of the ministry-2014, and well, that’s how we started.What, in fact, can we do to save the heritage? What is really useful and within our limits? What is our resource? Who can work "day and night"? Will Kyiv be encircled? Will we be able to negotiate? Will partners abroad support us? Won't it be too late tomorrow? The VUCA world is in full swing.For me, this year consists of a lot of stories that we won't tell the kids (but maybe the followers).HERI expeditions to document the losses began with a call from Maria Zadorozhna: Borodyanka has been unoccupied, we need to save the locker with the rooster, what should we do? Well, everything was clear: a locker with a rooster should end up in the Museum [of Maidan], but first it should be documented in detail (a 3D model with the method of photogrammetry from a drone), plus logistics, emergency services, military, permits, anti-terrorist defense, checkpoint, post-apocalyptic surrealism on the ruins of the 21st century. Then there was the church in Viazivka, and objects in Kharkiv region, Chernihiv region. Expeditions have become difficult, complex, from collecting and verifying information to documenting the loss of cultural heritage for its restoration and criminal proceedings. Cooperation with WMF and SCRI-CER gave us systematicity: 4 survey areas (Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv), from verification of lists and losses to documentation for stabilization, recovery, and forensic cases.From cooperation with Berta (Berta De Sancristobal, UNESCO), the blue "lake" grew, which is the concept of the national infrastructure of heritage data, movable and immovable, based on current international standards.Capacity. "Tell me what can I do to help?" does not work during the war. It is the leadership that saves, when team members take responsibility and cover entire areas, without micromanagement and control. The skills and knowledge acquired before the war, the trust and capacity we are building do save us.Purpose. At first, there was chaos, we were trying to do everything at once, trying to help everyone: help with evacuation, materials, money. Leadership Course for Cultural Heritage Stewards in Challenging Circumstances, held by SCRI and CER, helped Ihor and I find a focus, for me it is heritage monitoring and the creation of an information system (HeMo, Heritage Monitoring Lab). Today, HERI is an umbrella initiative that unites a number of institutions, projects, and many like-minded people.Building capacity, minimizing losses, and preparing for recovery are our first goals. War creates post-traumatic stress disorder. But it can also be a boost for post-traumatic growth. This war of Russia is against our identity, history, property, a war for heritage. Therefore, the big goal is a new role and understanding of heritage in society, and careful management of it.I am very grateful for this year, for everything created and experienced together – the Team, Tustan, Partners.And incredibly grateful to Ihor for this call.

Vasyl Rozhko

co-founder of Heritage Emergency Response Initiative (HERI), Head of "Tustan" NGO, coordinator of the working group on preservation of cultural heritage during the actions of the legal regime of martial law under the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine.

In March 2022, the Heritage Rescue Emergency Initiative, HERI, was created as a response to the illegal military aggression of the Russian Federation. It was founded by: NGO "Tustan", State Reserve "Tustan" and the National Museum of the Revolution of Dignity (Maidan Museum) in order to promote the preservation of cultural heritage during the war and its post-war restoration.
We are grateful to all international and domestic partners who have supported Ukrainian culture since the first days of the full-scale war and continue to help preserve the national cultural heritage. We are proud to work side by side with incredible people from all over Ukraine who, often risking their own lives, do everything possible and impossible to preserve museum collections and prevent further destruction of monuments damaged by shelling. The war continues. And therefore, the struggle for the preservation of Ukrainian culture - too!


Since the creation of the HERI Heritage Rescue Headquarters, Tustan NGO has assumed the role of an international aid operator, administers current projects and seeks opportunities to strengthen HERI's capacity in other relevant areas. After providing primary assistance to cultural institutions and their employees, the Tustan NGO team, as one of the founders and providers of NERI, focused on documenting the loss and damage of cultural heritage, as well as on creating a comprehensive information system for monitoring the state of cultural heritage of Ukraine - HeMo. Our team includes architects, restorers, art critics, photographers, UAV operators, lawyers, IT specialists and other experts who care about Ukrainian culture and its future.
Ukrainian culture as a component of national identity became one of the targets of the occupiers. According to the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, since the beginning of the full-scale military invasion, as of December 20, 2022, 1,132 objects of cultural infrastructure have been damaged or destroyed. Since 2014, 554 museums have been or continue to be under occupation, which is about 22% of all museums of the state museum fund. By documenting the losses and systematizing information about the cultural heritage of Ukraine, we are forming an evidence base for bringing criminals to justice at the International Criminal Court, as well as preparing for the restoration and reconstruction of cultural monuments, tracing museum relics and returning them to Ukraine.

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79005Ukraine, LvivSt. Myroslava Skoryka, 17,3rd floor




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