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History of museum

The Ivan Franko museum in Lviv has a long and complicated history

The first attempt to create a museum exposition about the writer – a so called Ivan Franko’s room at the Shevchenko Scientific Society – was made in the mid-1920s. As the contemporaries claimed, this room-museum had to reproduce the interior of Franko’s working cabinet. It can be read in the letter from Franko’s son Taras to the Shevchenko Scientific Society from November 18, 1923, that since that time already the family started to sell items from the writer’s cabinet to the Society. In 1926, the Society head, Kyrylo Studynskyi, addressed the public and Ukrainian institutions on behalf of the Society, encouraging them to collect and send various memorials on Ivan Franko. This way, the Shevchenko Scientific Society collected valuable relics like autographs, letters, documents, photos, books, personal items belonging to the writer.

There was no official opening of the room, though: the information about that cannot be found anywhere in the press of that time. Instead, in The Chronicle of the Shevchenko Scientific Society of Years 1926-1930 there is information on “the Ivan Franko’s corner” with “a library, an archive and other memorials (furniture etc) related to the deceased Writer”. We can imagine this “corner” thanks to a few preserved photos.

Since that time, there were a lot of conversations, serious and relevant, on the need of creating the Franko museum in Lviv, in his own house, similar to already existing institutions all over the world. hat would be a decent reaction to the writer’s own wish that after his death the villa where he had lived for his last 14 years “housed some humanitarian or cultural Ukrainian institution”. However, it was only possible to implement this idea in 1940 thanks to active efforts of the writer’s youngest son Petro. In new political realia, after a long bureaucratic procedure, the Ivan Franko museum in Lviv was finally solemnly opened on October 10, 1940. The items from the Shevchenko Scientific Society became the basis of the museum starting collection.

Petro Franko also became the first Director of the Museum. However, with the new stage of World War II, when the frontier was abruptly moved east and German troops crossed the borders of the Soviet Ukraine, the NKVD forcibly moved him out of Lviv, and the location of his grave is still unknown.

The Museum was closed until the end of World War II. The building, that had been damaged during the war, was renovated, the exposition was renewed, and on July 27, 1945 the second solemn opening of the Musem took place. Since that day, the exposition was not drastically changed up until 1986, when the first restoration of the Ivan Franko villa happened. At that very time, according to the writer’s daughter Anna Franko-Kliuchko’s memoirs, the interiors of five rooms of the first floor were renovated, and the memorial exposition replaced the chronologically-thematic one. Expositions of the two rooms on the second floor were opened in 2006. At the end of 2018, the exposition Kitchen of the Franko House was opened, with Cellar opened two years later.

In 1991, Lviv Literary and Memorial Museum of Ivan Franko was given a house at Ivan Franko St. 150. This is a two-storey villa in the modern classicism style, constructed in 1923-1925 for a Polish businessman Antoniy Uvyera. This is a two-storey villa in the modern classicism style, constructed in 1923-1925 for a Polish businessman Antoniy Uvyera. Here, the administration rooms and the researchers’ cabinets were located, as well as the main and library collection of the museum. To the 150th anniversary of Ivan Franko, in 2006, a literary exposition was also opened here, telling about the creative life of the writer, his scholarly, social and political activity. Today, the works are in progress to renew the exposition in the villa of Uvyera – the Muse House, while the rooms host various cultural events.

On August 23, 2011, the Museum was honoured with the National status.
Since 2017, the Museum has been experiencing global changes in its philosophy as a cultural institution. Today, the Franko House stands as a place of power, place of spirit, live and active cultural space, open for different communities. This way, the Museum team basically continues traditions that were founded by the first director, Petro Franko, who saw this house not as a silent place of his great father’s memory, but a place of discoveries, education and creative work, a place for meeting interesting and creative people. The intergenerational dialogue is constantly going on here, between people of different fields and interests. Thoughts are ever evolving and the most diverse emotions are raging all the time. Because the Franko House is a space where memory does not fall to dust, but comes to life in thought, action, word…