The World’s One and Only Pysanka Museum

Issue 56, April 2013.

The World’s One and Only Pysanka Museum

Did you know that Ukraine is home to the largest (13.5 m high) Easter Egg in the World, (the second largest is in Vegreville, AB., Canada). To see this miracle, visit the town of Kolomiya in Western Ukraine’s Ivano-Frankivsk region, where the modern wonder of Ukraine is located, the world's largest Pysanka (Easter Egg) Museum.

The "Pysanka" museum is the most prominent tourist attraction in the Pre-Carpathian town of Kolomiya. Although its full title is the Kolomiya Museum of Folk Art Named After Father Josafat Kobrynskyi, if you simply ask for the "Pysanka", everyone in town will understand you and point you in the right direction. The museum's unusual building, shaped like a huge Easter egg, will surely be a surprise for you as well as it will suddenly appear, with its red and yellow painted exterior.

History of the Pysanka Museum

The Museum of Easter Eggs is 26-years-old. Back in 1987, it was only a department in the Museum of Folk Art of the Hutsul region. The idea for a special museum appeared with technology: the main custodian of the collection, Lubomyr Krechkovskyi and his colleague Maria Bolezdiuk invented the technique of conservation and restoration of Easter eggs, which allowed for the storage and restoration of these small wonders. At first, the establishment was located on the grounds of the Kolomiya cemetery in a small wooden Church of the Holy Annunciation (built in 1587). At the end of 1980s, the church was given back to the local religious community, and the museum was transferred to another temporary location. Today "Pysanka" has the wonderful premises, which was erected in 90 days by architect Igor Shuman and opened its doors to visitors on September 23, 2000.

Exhibitions of Museum

"Pysanka" is absolutely unlike any typical museum. Exhibitions direct their visitors from ancient symbolism of the drawings on Easter eggs ("fish", for example, is a symbol of life and an early Christian symbol of Jesus Christ) to the process of Easter egg creation (see page 50) and restoration. On display, visitors can see numerous examples of Easter eggs from the various regions of Ukraine from the end of the 19th century to modern day, as well as a collection of painted eggs from different countries of the world – for example a porcelain egg from France, ritual wedding eggs from Algeria, onyx eggs from Egypt, Easter eggs from Poland, Canada, the Czech Republic, Pakistan, USA, and Chinese eggs made of cloisonne (enamel). Today, the museum's collection consists of more than 10,000 eggs and increases annually as museum employees purchase Easter eggs at numerous fairs held in Kolomiya every year before Easter. The museum collection’s highlight is the section with pysankas, signed by famous Ukrainian politicians and cultural workers.

Symbols of Pysanka

Pysanky symbolize the transformation of life and the basic principles of the universe. Connoisseurs can read symbols of an Easter Egg as easily as we read a book. The symbols are coded notions and ideas like "The road to God", "Tree of Life", "Woman's knees", "Ram horns", "Little windows", "Twisted arm", "God's hand" and much more. Each symbol has a great magical power. To protect the family home from bad people/spirits the Pysanka should be filled with the "infinity" symbol. In ancient times it was believed that it was a powerful amulet which kept ‘bad spirits’ away. 
Eggs with a "rhombus" (a symbol of fertility) were meant to be rolled on the field for the best harvest or buried under a tree, which no longer gave fruit. In olden times, people believed that the Pysanka could also help with love - young girls created pysankas with special symbols - "bunches of grapes" and on the third day of Easter gave them to young men and he understood it as a tacit confession of love and he should invite her to dance in response.
In general, the symbols on an egg can be a lot (up to 15 on one small egg) - Christian and pagan: oak leaves - the symbol of thunder Perun and the church ("the road to God") and the sun sign - the swastika and the fish. The latter in ancient times was considered a sign of health and life.

When visiting Ukraine, set aside some time and visit the Easter Egg Museum to enjoy the life giving strength of the pysanka, its unique beauty, and the sybols of wealth and customs bound with it. The Pysanka Museum regularly holds master-classes, during which one can train in the technique of painting Easter eggs and create one’s own pysanka using wax and dyes. In addition, the souvenir shop offers a wide choice of original handmade Easter eggs.

Contacts:
Ivano-Frankivsk region, Kolomiya,
43 V. Chornovil Ave. (Museum is situated in the Kolomiya town centre)

Tel.: +38 (03433) 2-78-91
www.pysanka.museum

Entrance fee: Adults — 10 UAH,

Excursion rates: Adults and students — 40 UAH

Working hours: 10:00-18:00,
Closed: Monday