When Meta History: Museum of War arrived toward the end of March, it was intended as a short-term project. “Deep down, we all believed that the war would be over in a few months,” says VK, Meta History’s Founder. But now, five months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Meta History remains, continuing to fundraise for the country’s military and humanitarian efforts through NFT sales. As of a recent accounting, it has rallied more than $1.2 million for the Charity Foundation of Serhiy Prytula and Aid For Ukraine, as the platform has grown into “a coherent, constantly operating mechanism,” per VK.
Meta History is now on its third drop of NFTs, featuring works created by locally based artists that each depict a major event of the war, paired with a verified tweet. The attacks on Ukraine’s healthcare facilities, the death of Holocaust survivor Boris Romanchenko, the bombing of Mariupol, and the delivery of a baby under bombardment are recorded in searing and haunting artworks — serving as a fact-based counter to Russian propaganda, while documenting the trauma Ukraine continues to undergo daily.
“It is very important to draw attention to [these events] not only through facts, often filled with pain and horror,” VK tells Jing Culture & Commerce,” but also through beauty, creativity, and meaningful images.”
It’s in this that Meta History fulfills its self-prescribed role as a Museum of War. Just as exhibitions have been built around contemporaneous events like the COVID pandemic, so the platform represents a living document of the Russian invasion. And from the perspective of its residents who are daily experiencing devastation — “scars that will never evaporate,” in VK’s words. “That’s why we say: every day of this experience is important,” he adds. “Every day must remain in the memory of the world and every day must find its place in the Museum of War.”
This, at a time when Ukraine’s culturally significant buildings and sites are increasingly imperiled by Russia’s attacks that are “intended to leave us without a past,” says VK. More than 260 of the country’s heritage sites have been battered, while Oleksandr Tkachenko, Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, places the cost of the destruction at almost €6 billion. And with Russia’s ongoing and coordinated assaults, “this amount,” he noted, “will only be increased.”
Accordingly, Meta History has pledged all sales proceeds from its special collections, including Avatars For Ukraine and an upcoming collaborative launch with Depositphotos, toward the restoration of the country’s heritage sites. It’s not the sole initiative to leverage the online realm to support the preservation of Ukraine’s cultural heritage — Backup Ukraine and Saving Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Online are just two other projects — but Meta History also has in its corner a leading financial instrument.
Throughout the war, the blockchain has played a vital role in backing Ukraine’s war efforts, centered on purchasing military supplies and extending humanitarian aid. By March, upwards of $63 million had been raised in crypto asset donations, just as Ukraine DAO, with its sale of a NFT of the Ukrainian flag, has gathered some $6.7 million for NGOs including Come Back Alive and Proliska. Here, the country’s Ministry of Digital Transformation has not been idle: besides establishing a cryptocurrency fund, the department has been actively rousing the crypto community. VK highlights how the Ministry’s support has spurred Meta History’s “information campaign,” ensuring word on the project reaches a broad audience.
The potential of NFTs — whether as medium, digital asset, or piece of technology — is of course not lost on VK, particularly when applied to a charitable cause. For him, the “multidimensionality” of NFTs means they serve more than one function for Meta History. Yes, they realize persistence and transparency, but also: “It’s about communicating the truth through art,” he says. “It’s a way to tell the world about talented Ukrainian artists and open the way for them to enter the NFT sphere. And it’s a technical solution that gives us confidence that all the money from the sale goes to charity.”
Russia’s invasion continues to bear down on Ukraine, though the tide is turning, however slowly. Likewise, Meta History’s team, now numbering about 50 partners and volunteers, is powering on with plans for a longer-term roadmap, building utility into its NFTs, and hosting regular events in the PARTY SPACE metaverse. “Constantly structuring chaos” is how VK describes rolling out these developments against the tumult of war and the highly variable field of NFTs. But the work remains as pressing as ever: online attention to the war is waning, not the war itself.
Good thing then that Meta History, though planned as a short-term outing, has been far-sighted from the outset. VK points out that the project’s name derives not from “metaverse,” but the Greek term “metanoia,” denoting transformation or spiritual conversion. In his words, “What will become a reality tomorrow is a consequence of the changes that have taken place within us today.” Which makes sense for a platform intent on keeping alive Ukraine’s past, present, and future onsite and on-chain, embodying the kind of mettle that’s not easily taken out by a bomb. “We know our history and our potential,” he emphasizes, “and we believe in the future.”