Taras Shevchenko Museum of Canada
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Taras H. Shevchenko
Museum & Memorial
Park Foundation

1614 Bloor St. West
Toronto Ontario
M6P 1A7
Tel: 416-534-8662
Fax: 416-535-1063


Link to Taras Shevchenko Museum Library Catalog

The Taras Shevchenko Museum has a very valuable collection on Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine's greatest poet, a talented artist, and the founder of the modern Ukrainian literary language. Shevchenko's poetry was a great inspiration to the Ukrainian nation which declared independence on August 24, 1991. Today we remember Shevchenko's rich legacy, and as he said in his Zapovit, or Testament, " in the family of the free softly, kindly, remember me."

A special collection of about 1,200 books and pamphlets of Shevchenkiana is a remarkable research resource.

We remember. It was more than 190 years ago today, on March 9, 1814, that Shevchenko was born a serf. But his artistic talent, with the help of compassionate friends, won him his freedom in 1838 and by his genius, both in art and literature, he rose to the highest level of society in the Russian Empire.

The Shevchenko Museum has a fascinating collection of paintings, etchings, illustrations, posters and colorful artifacts of Ukrainian and Ukrainian Canadian cultural life. Perhaps the single most valuable item on exhibit in the Museum is the death mask of Shevchenko made on March 10, 1861 in St. Petersburg which survived a fire that destroyed the original Shevchenko Museum in the Shevchenko Memorial Park, North Oakville, Ontario.

But this Shevchenko Museum also possesses a hidden treasure of considerable value. This is a special collection of about 1,200 books and pamphlets of Shevchenkiana which is a remarkable research resource in my estimation as a professional librarian. These books provide much material on the life and works of Shevchenko. One surprising fact is that in the Shevchenko Research Collection of the Museum there are some 120 different editions of the Kobzar, Shevchenko's collected poetical and sometimes prose works.

Shevchenko's first Kobzar, consisting of eight poems, was published in 1840 in St. Petersburg. Although our collection does not have the first edition, it does have excellent facsimile copies. It is of interest that the very first edition had a work of art as a frontispiece. This was an etching of a Kobzar, or minstrel, playing a bandura*, with a boy and a dog by his side. In reviewing our collection of Kobzars I was struck by this surprising fact.

Ever since that first edition artists have often been inspired to illustrate Shevchenko's poetic word. Many of the finest artists of Ukraine such as O. Slastion, I. Izhakevich, V. Kasian, V. Kutkin, M. Derehus and Vasyl Lopata have illustrated the Kobzar. They have made these books a microcosm of the beauty of the Ukrainian word, the Ukrainian language and Ukrainian culture by their decoration and illustrations of Shevchenko's poetry. Shevchenko's works certainly seem to have attracted a more artistic dimension as books than, for example, those of William Shakespeare or Robert Burns.

Among the titles in the collection are the volume Kobzar-Haidamaky* (St. Petersburg 1886) illustrated by Slastion; the first Kobzar published in Canada by Prosvita in Winnipeg, 1918. We have the centennial Ukrainian Canadian tribute celebrating the birth of Shevchenko published in Winnipeg in 1914. There is a Kobzar from St. Petersburg 1896 and one from Kiev, 1899, by Kyivska Starina*, as well as the famous Simovych Kobzar of 1921 with its valuable notes. A recent book on Ira Aldridge, the famous American black Shakespearean tragedian, who was a friend of Shevchenko and the subject of one of his portraits has been added recently.

The Library also has some Shevchenkiana in English, although the collection is far from complete. The Library needs to start the systematic acquisition of these books since this material is so important in confirming the world significance of his poetry and his life, which makes accessible to the world the spirit and works of a great world poet. To this should be added analyticals of chapters in books for the catalogue. We should acquire copies of English books not in our collection or obtain photocopies. The 52 books I listed in my article Shevchenko Books in English 1911-1988 (Forum no. 77, Spring 1989, p. 78-81) provides many of the basic titles we need to acquire.

These few examples indicate the unique value of this collection of Shevchenko books and pamphlets which includes valuable research materials. This is a source of extensive reference material which will be a valuable library once it is catalogued on the computer, classified and organized. In order to fully serve researchers and university students it will be necessary for the Shevchenko Library to collect photocopies of journal, magazine and newspaper articles on Shevchenko in English.

The museum should also consider collecting Shevchenko ephemera such as program books and posters of Shevchenko concerts. All of these, when brought together, will represent a unique collection of value to the museum, to scholarship and education and fulfill our responsibility to pass on to further generations our beautiful Ukrainian heritage.

By Andrew Gregorovich
Ukrainian Librarians Association of Canada
Senior Researcher,
Ukrainian Canadian Research Foundation

* Bandura - a stringed Ukrainian folk musical instrument
* Haidamaky - 18th century Ukrainian peasant's struggle against serfdom
* Kyivska Starina - Kyiv publishing house of old literature.

BIBLIOGRAPHY of over 300 entries includes all of the major books in English about Shevchenko and his literary and art works....(more)

Collection of Ukrainian handicrafts and folk art
First Ukrainian Immigration to Canada
Shevchenko Stamp Collection
Quick Facts on Shevchenko Biography
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The son of a serf, Shevchenko became not only an artist and academician of Saint-Petersburg Academy of Art, but one of the most versatile people of 19th century. His paintings and graphics reflect a refined world that did not resemble his own life...(more)


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since Mar 9th 2000