I’ve walked by the Ukrainian Institute of America many times on my way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and often admired the beautiful French Gothic mansion. The building itself is a piece of New York history, passing among the ownership of many high-profile New Yorkers. With its fairy-tale glass gazebo and carved stone arches, the building has sent my imagination on many adventures wondering what stories those walls could tell.
The vast mansion has plenty of room to tell many stories, indeed. The galleries extend across four floors, each containing a different exhibit. The focus, of course, is on Ukrainian Culture. When I visited, they were showing the sculptures of a Ukrainian cubist. Another room was filled with seaside watercolors from an artist living on the coast of the Black Sea. My favorite paintings were inspired by the stylized graphics of religious icons, depicting famous Ukrainians in history.
There is also an exhibit explaining the history of the building itself, telling the story of the architecture and ownership. I enjoyed the freedom of exploring the mansion, which was empty aside from myself and the man at the ticket desk. The dreamy content of the artwork, mixed with the antique splendor of the architecture, continued to fuel my imagination long after I left and continued my walk across the street to Central Park.