Odesa National Museum Damaged In Russian Blast

A Russian airstrike on the strategic Black Sea port of Odesa wounded at least eight people on Sunday night and damaged one of the city’s major art institutions, Odesa officials reported.

According to a statement from Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, a missile launched by Russia caused significant damage to the Odesa Fine Arts Museum, one of the most important Tsarist-era palaces in Odesa’s historic city center. 

“On November 6, the Odesa National Art Museum turns 124 years old,” Andriy Yermak, head of the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said in a statement.” On the eve of Nov. 6, the Russians ‘congratulated’ our architectural monument with a missile that hit nearby.”

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A video posted by the Odesa city council to social media showed shattered windows and a ruined interior of the once-stately structure; outside, workers assess craters gouged in the streets by the air strikes. The city’s port infrastructure also took damage, with strategic warehouses and vehicles carrying grain set on fire.

Odesa, a centuries-old crossroads for European and Asian cultures and cherished for its architectural landmarks, including the Odesa Opera House and the 19th century Tolstoy Palace, has been the target of Russian bombing since its invasion of Ukraine began in 2022. That July, an aerial assault on the city resulted in the destruction of part of the Odesa Museum of Modern Art and Odesa Museum of Fine Arts. UNESCO condemned the destruction “in the strongest terms”, and has funded repairs to both museums and financed efforts to digitize artworks and provide protective equipment.

The historic center of the city was declared an endangered World Heritage Site earlier this year following a formal appeal from Zelenskyy to the United Nations.

The Odesa Museum of Fine Arts housed more than 12,000 works before the war, but nearly the whole collection was transported for safekeeping by the museum employees in February 2022.

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