Ukraine Aid:

Preventative Conservation Initiatives

Ukrainian scientific communities need more resources.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 2022 has included the wholesale destruction, damage and looting of Ukraine’s cultural heritage, including a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This intentional destruction is a loss not only for Ukraine but also for humankind. Ukrainian scientific communities need more resources to address these challenges. In response, Red Arch Cultural Heritage Law and Policy Research partnered with Lviv Polytechnic National University to initiate a program of preventive conservation to fund the digital scanning of eleven historic wooden churches in eastern Ukraine, some of which are very close to the war zone. The success of those initial efforts has led our team to expand on this initiative in 2024, and to launch separate initiatives that will strengthen conservation education and conservation science in Ukraine.

Frieze detail, Assembly Hall, Lviv Polytechnic National University. Photo credit: Mykola Bevz

Ukrainian Wooden Architecture 3D Scanning Project

Ukraine’s cultural heritage includes its stunning historic wooden churches or tserkvas, approximately 2000 of which are extant. These structures date from the seventeenth through twentieth centuries, with eight designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Many of these churches are in use today, and only a few are fully documented from an archival and architectural standpoint.

In 2023, the Lviv Polytechnic National University’s Department of Architecture and Conservation received a Leica ScanStation P40 High-Definition 3D Laser Scanner and other necessary hardware from Red Arch to undertake photogrammetric scanning of eleven historically and stylistically significant wooden churches in the eastern territories. Faculty members of the department traveled to regions close to the war zone to perform these scans. The data gathered with this equipment is essential for the rebuilding of the structures should they be damaged or destroyed during the war, invaluable to researchers, scholars, and students, and potentially relevant as evidence in courts of law for prosecuting acts of heritage destruction, a war crime. For more information, click here.


  • Funding for the continuation of on-site documentation activities
  • Funding for the rendering of raw data scanned by the team in the field

Anticipated outcomes

  • The Ukrainian team of professors and students from the Lviv Polytechnic National University will enlarge the initial scanning effort to include an additional 25 wooden structures, with an emphasis on those that are most vulnerable.
  • The scans the team produces will lay the foundation for a representative database of historically significant Ukrainian wooden ecclesiastical architecture.
  • The skill set needed to acquire, render, deploy, and preserve photogrammetric data will enable graduates of the Department of Architecture and Conservation, Lviv Polytechnic National University to address the widespread damage to Ukraine’s architecture caused by the war in the years ahead.

Conservation Equipment Initiative

The Conservation Equipment Initiative aims to acquire necessary scientific instruments that will seed the Regional Art Conservation Laboratory, to be housed in the Sheptytsky National Museum in Lviv, Ukraine.

Ukraine boasts numerous museums, one of the largest being the Andrey Sheptytsky National Museum in Lviv, western Ukraine, with over 150,000 holdings. Interest in Ukrainian art among museum specialists, art conservators, heritage protection specialists, art historians, and the general public is steadily growing. Exhibitions staged at the Ukrainian Museum in New York City, at the Wawel castle in Kraków, Poland, at the Vilnius gallery in Vilnius, Lithuania, as well as an upcoming exhibition of Ukrainian Secessionists scheduled for 2024 (Belvedere, Vienna) are bringing Ukrainian art to enthusiastic audiences eager to learn more about its outstanding artistic achievements.

Outdated equipment and the depletion of resources is hindering technical research on Ukrainian art as well as its conservation, protection, and display. Our contacts with Ukrainian scientists, museum directors, and heads of conservation training programs compel Red Arch to assist in the creation of a modern scientific conservation lab. The facilitation of such a lab also supports scientific authentication methods, and the dissemination of research by those with the expertise to perform it, but who lack the equipment to do so efficaciously. Over 230 smaller regional museums in western Ukraine alone are underserviced by lack of state-of-the-art conservation equipment. Nationally, there exists only one Fourier-transform infrared spectrometer (FTIR) devoted to art analysis.


  • One portable Georgias Reflectance portable reflectance spectrometer. Portability ensures ease of use across multiple collections Use: pigment analysis on paintings and graphics of the museum’s collections.
  • Acquisition of an FTIR (Fourier-transform infrared spectrometer). Use: To aid in the conservation and authentication of works of art through the analysis of paints, binders and fillers.
  • Acquisition of a fluorescence microscope with a trinocular head, and both transmitted and reflected light. Use: analysis of complex paint coating layers, and microscopic wood identification.
  • Acquisition of a portable Bruker Tracer 5 XRF (x-ray fluorescence) analyzer. Use: non-destructive elemental analysis of the regional museums’ collections of metal, glass, stone, and ceramics objects.

Anticipated outcomes

  • Expansion of technical and art historical research, facilitation of conservation processes through the acquisition and direct donation of scientific conservation instrumentation.
  • Strengthening of Ukrainian conservation research, professional analysis, and dissemination of results.