“Today we see how Russia is shelling residential areas (and) even people that are evacuating,” says National Museum Director of Lviv, Ihor Kozhan. “They guaranteed they would not but now we can not trust them. And we need to take care of our heritage because this is our national treasure.”
Lviv’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the National Museum houses the country’s most complete collection of sacred medieval art and rare religious manuscripts.
Artworks from the 17th century are being stored in the hallway, as the museum has run out of space in its basement.
The rush to save its books, paintings and other artifacts has left little time to wait for specialized packing materials. Instead, volunteers make do by hastily nailing together crates from whatever wood is available.
On Monday, volunteers hastily packed ancient manuscripts into cardboard boxes originally intended for transporting bananas to supermarkets. Among them was a thousand-year-old bible decorated with gold thread.
Boxes once intended to transport bananas are now being used to store priceless artifacts.
But simply securing and storing art and historical artifacts may not be enough to save them. There are also evolving plans to evacuate precious art works from besieged cities, such as Kiev and Kharkiv, if necessary – possibly to safer cities such as Lviv.
“We are ready to help in any way we can, for all the museums in the country now in danger,” said Kozhan, warning that even Lviv’s many protected heritage sites may be targeted in the invasion.
Watch the video above for CNN’s full report from Lviv.