Ukraine: the Cost of Freedom

With generous support from Auckland War Memorial Museum, we made an exhibition “Ukraine: The Cost of Freedom'' in the museum’s Te Taunga Community Hub. It opened on the anniversary of Ukrainian Independence - the 24th of August 2022. Over the next 2 months, the exhibition welcomed nearly 21,000 visitors.

MEDIA RELEASE: Thursday 18  August 2022

New community-led photography exhibition ‘Ukraine: The Cost of Freedom’ opens at Auckland Museum 

Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland Museum will open a new exhibition in Te Taunga Community Hub, a gallery designed to highlight Auckland’s many diverse communities and provide a space where they can share their stories.

Located in the Museum’s Grand Foyer this exhibition, from Auckland’s Ukrainian community, Ukraine: The Cost of Freedom, is a contemporary photojournalism exhibition taken from the frontline in Ukraine. This exhibition shows the devastation and impact the war has had on the Ukrainian people.

Everything you will see and experience in Ukraine: The Cost of Freedom has been chosen by the Auckland Ukrainian Community to tell their own story, from the photos and videos on display to the labels and signage. On select days, the community will be leading its own activations for the public. 

These extraordinary and sometimes harrowing images, captured by some of the most prominent Ukrainian photographers including  Denys Kazanskyi, Dmytro Laryn, Serhii Myhalchuk, Kostiantyn Sova, Dmytro Kornilov, Eduard Kryzhanivskyi, Tetiana Poslavska, Dmytro Kozatsky, Viacheslav Onyshchenko, Misha Djos, Rodrigo Abd, and Datalion shed light on the pain and struggle of Ukrainian citizens who have been resisting the Russian invasion for many months. Most of the photographs have been provided to the exhibition by Ukrainska Pravda, Ukraine’s largest news website. The majority of the video content was provided by the media project “Ukrainer”.

All of the photographs were taken along the high-risk 1000km frontline at the risk of the photographers' own lives.  Some photographs showing the ruins of Ukrainian cities, once beautiful and prosperous, now reduced to rubble, have also been exhibited internationally in Berlin, Singapore, and Dublin. 

Since the invasion began in February of this year, more than 120,000 residential buildings, 2000 schools, and 700 hospitals have been destroyed or severely damaged, as reported by the Kyiv School of Economics on 13th July 2022. Thousands of lives have been lost, including more than 350 children, and more than 12 million Ukrainians have fled their homes seeking safety, according to Ukrainian officials and United Nations as of July 2022.

Previous communities Te Taunga Community Hub has hosted include the Akatokamanava Enua Community of Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland’s Cook Islands Mauke community; the Sudanese community of New Zealand; the Mā’ohi Nui (Tahiti and neighboring archipelagos) community, and Kshetra, a collective of New Zealand Indian artists.

Head of Learning and Public Programmes Kath McGhie says the concept for the gallery is to provide an exhibition space where the diverse communities of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland can share their stories, reflecting the Museum’s aspiration to be a place of belonging for all Aucklanders. 

“We have created a space where a particular community can engage in authentic storytelling about their culture and identity. It provides a space for communities to share the stories that are important to them,” says McGhie.

Opening Ceremony speeches

Auckland War Memorial Museum, 24 Aug 2022

Walk through gallery

This video shows the main hall with the photo exhibition and art object (the bomb) in the center of it, the Media room where visitors could learn about Ukraine and the War, and another room had graphic content (and not filmed here).


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