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A Glimpse Inside The Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum in Kiev

The Liquidators: Creepy Models Without Mannequins

The Chernobyl nuclear accident was an event so epic, it even had a fictional Extreme Energy Drink named after it in the film Hot Tub Time Machine .

Back in April 1986, Prince’s Kiss was on top of the Billboard Charts and the Cold War was in full effect. So when the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl (then located in the  USSR, now part of Ukraine) caught fire and melted down, much of what happened was cloaked in Soviet intrigue.

While it is possible to take a trip to visit Chernobyl proper, to do so requires planning and applying at least 12 days in advance for an official tour. Sadly, I’m not that organized (although I fully intend to do it on my next trip to the Ukraine).

Chernobyl Museum exterior

Example of a hot rescue vehicle outside the Chernobyl Museum

I only had two days in Kiev, so this trip I made do by visiting the Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum.

Weird Installation, to Honor the Chernobyl Children

Established in 1992 the Chernobyl  museum is filled with memorabilia, pictures, models, and exhibits that attempt to explain the Level 7 Nuclear Event. FYI,  the only other disaster to earn this distinction is 2011’s Fukushima Daiichi incident- so expect weird, Japanese-y museums in the future.

Chernobyl Liquidators Suits on Display

While there are models and exhibitions meant to explain the progression of the disaster, I found the audio tour extremely dry and I abandoned it within 15 minutes. Some words and phrases on the audio tour did resonate and scare me such as, “… 26 year old Senior Engineer.” Wonder if it is a coincidence that Homer Simpson, the cartoon buffoon works as a safety inspector at the Springfield Nuclear Power plant was born a year later in 1987?

Exhibition Room Chernobyl Museum in Kiev

Some creepy displays: Pink lips and a haz-mat suit & Angel in effigy

Displays at the Chernobyl Museum

Where the Chernobyl Museum excels in it’s visual displays dedicated to the human impact of the disaster and loss of life. The rescue workers, called liquidators, have suits on display in such a way that the museum feels like a Banksy exhibit. Now I’m convinced Banksy either visited here or saw pictures. There is no doubt the Museum is effective visually– creating a haunting, creepy space and weird vibes that remind you that nuclear meltdowns are not to be taken lightly.

Creepy paperwork & Soviet Medals of Valor for First Responders (called Liquidators) on display

Soviet Senior Class: Chernobyl Workers Class Picture

The museum has some very visually interesting displays, including photograph collections of liquidators and their children, interesting use of plushy toys in a suspended boat (in honor of the children effected by Chernobyl), and creepy medical instruments and oddities.

Some consider the government cover up of Chernobyl Disaster to be key in the paving the way for glasnost and ultimately, the downfall of the USSR.

While I still want to take an official tour of Chernobyl to better understand the incident and it’s effects on humanity, I still think the Chernobyl Museum is worth visiting if you get to Kiev. It’s open every day but Sunday and it’s not hard to find. It’s worth it for the flashback factor alone, since it contains Soviet remnants so out of sync with present day Kiev.

Medical instruments and Shiny, Happy Soviet Doctors

Model of the Chernobyl Reactor At the Museum: Good Enough to Win an 8th Grade Science Fair