August 06, 2009

Vitaliy Trybushnyy, Музей тоталітаризму / Museum of totalitarianism

all pictures courtesy of Oleksiy Kachmar

This art environment has been created in and around the house of Vitaliy Trybushnyy, a psychiatrist who lives in the city of Kherson in Ukraine. 

Life and works

In the 1970s Trybushnyy was not a middle of the road personality. He had long hair and wore jeans and he told the police who wanted to correct his appearance, that the Constitution of the USSR did not forbid jeans and his kind of hair. 

The April 9, 1989 tragedy when Soviet troops dispersed an anti-soviet demonstration in Tbilisi, Georgia, stimulated Trybushnyy to start collecting all kinds of material relating to the authoritarian aspects of the Soviet-Russian regime: books, pamphlets, paintings, busts, objets trouvés, and so on. 

The next twenty years he enlarged his collection, arranging the items in an exposition in and around his place of living, which he named the Museum of Totalitarianism. 

Although Vitaliy Trybushnyy had no artistic training at all, he managed to present the collection in an associative, artistic way, using the colours red and black as a leading decorative principle, manipulating pictures and symbols of Soviet-communism, as in above picture, and redecorating objects, like this bust of Lenin. 

Ukraine, currently an independent state, has an official museum in its capital Kyiv about the period when the country was part of the USSR. 

This art environment/museum in Kherson doesn't get much official attention, neither from politicians, historians or art critics. It is not mentioned in a list of museums in Ukraine.

Re-opened in a new setting in spring 2015

For over some twenty years the museum has been located in rooms in Trybushnyy's private house. In the spring of 2015 the museum got it's own housing in Trybushnyy's garden. It was re-opened in April 2015. 

* Polish art-magazine Kultura Enter in April 2009 published an article by Julia Kysla on this art environment (in Polish). OEE-texts has a translation into English of this article.
* Article (April 2015) on the website UNN news

* Video by regional TV reporting the re-opening of the museum in April 2015  (2'36", YouTube, May 4, 2015)

first published August 2009, last revised May 2015

Vitaliy Trybushnyy 
Museum of Totalitarianism 
vul. Engelsa 59
Kherson, Kherson region, Ukraine
guided tours, no entrance fee


  1. A testament to the world getting becoming a better place, at least in some areas.

  2. The evil seems to be ever relocating and looking for a new place to settle on. It was a tragedy how an idea of trying to find some equality and erase the gap between social classes ended giving origin to some of the most cruel and thirsty of blood regimes in history of Earth. That bust of Lenin is clearly ilustrating. The Gulag Archipielago tried to denounce it, Mister Trybushnyy, the archetype of the lonely artist fighting for changing the world, from their own trench, is denouncing it too: "History must not to be repeated"

  3. Thanks for your observations, Susan and Alberto. I myself was quite impressed by the appearance of this bust of Lenin, and what it expressed, knowing about his philosophical studies and the ultimate bloody aspects of the system.

  4. I think he must be quite courageous to construct and maintain such a monument, for it seems many people who criticize the Soviet state from within end up deceased, usually in violent ways. I hope Mr Trybushnyy will live still many more years completing and enlarging his creation. The photo stream link was good...