When is a cemetery also an official museum?

ANSWER: When it is Lychakiv Cemetery in Lviv, Ukraine.


Created in 1786 this is not just a beautifully landscaped park it is also an open air museum of beautiful sculptures and architecture.


The earliest gravestones date back to the 17th century although there are few gravestones from that time currently in the cemetery. There was a decision made in the 19th century that they would crush any gravestones that had not been taken care of for more than 25 years; and the crushed stones were used to pave the cemetery alley’s.

You can trace the history of L’viv and Galacia by the names of those buried at the cemetery most of whom are outstanding politicians, scientists, writers, and artists from Polish, Ukrainian, German and Armenian tombstones.

Today you cannot be buried here unless you already have purchased a plot or you are a Ukrainian famous person.

This is “Sleeping Beauty” actress Regina MarkovskaIMG_20170609_092611.jpg

I was very surprised to see a large monument to 3 American servicemen, who helped to fight in the war alongside the Ukrainian military 1919 – 1920.








Not far from this monument is an enormous military cemetery where Ukrainian and Polish children are brought by their schools to learn their history. “Lest they never forget.” (this photo is about 25% of the area).


On the top of the hill there is another military cemetery dedicated to Polish soldiers who fought on Ukrainian soil.



There are more than three hundred thousand graves at this cemetery and many of the tombstones are beautiful works of art.




And some want their personality, or their ethnicity to show.




in addition to the monuments you will encounter small chapels.




NOTE: to my friend Lynn, and others who enjoy browsing cemeteries:

When visiting Lviv you can order a tour on the cemetery website at: http://www.lviv-lychakiv.ukrain.travel

Bring your camera, a bottle of water and comfortable walking shoes. Be prepared for 2-4 hours to walk the entire cemetery.

The Father of Masochism … and other famous L’vivians

It was a sunny day in L’viv, Ukraine and I was strolling along the cobbled streets near the town square when I saw this beautiful and yet slightly quirky statue of a man in formal wear standing in front of a doorway that look like a keyhole.  I stood across the street and tried to determine what this man did or who he was and why he was standing in front of a doorway that looks like a keyhole. My first thought was he must be a magician because the left pocket of his trousers was open like maybe he had some cards or some kind of trick in his pocket. Then I noticed that there was a right hand circling the thigh of his right leg. Whose hand?  Obviously not his why was it there? And then I saw the naked woman on the left-hand side of the lining of his coat and it looked as though she were laying on fur … what’s that about?


Let me introduce you to Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch, the first person with the clinical diagnosis of Masochism – “the enjoyment of pain; tendency to derive sexual gratification from one’s own pain and humiliation with things such as bondage. Pleasure in being abused or dominated.”

His condition was diagnosed by Austrian psychiatrist Richard Freiherr Von Krafft-Ebing who said, ” I feel justified in calling this sexual abnormality masochism because author Sacher-Masoch frequently made this perversion, which up to the time was quite unknown to the scientific world as such, the substratum of his writings. I followed thereby by the scientific formation of the term Daltonism from Dalton the discoverer of colour blindness.”

If you put your hand into the open pocket you will encounter exactly what you expect!


Born January 27th 1836, died 9th March 1895. Austrian writer and journalist who gained some fame for romantic stories of Galatian life; who studied law and history and became a professor.  He wrote about folklore and culture of Austrian history and Galicia specifically.

In 1869 he had an idea for a series of short stories entitled “Legacy of Cain” of the 6 planned volumes only 2 were ever written – one of which was “Venus in Furs” based on his wife and his fantasies about being dominated by women. He is credited with introducing sexually charged and erotic works of deviant behaviour and the pleasure of Masochism to the world.

The story goes that he pressured his wife to engage in this activity, but she refused opening the door for his mistress Baroness Fanny Pistor,  who signed a contract making him her slave for six months with the stipulation that she wear furs as often as possible, especially when she was in a cruel mood.

He found family life boring and eventually divorced his wife and married his assistant.

Sidenote: He was the great-uncle of British singer Marianne Faithful, on her mother’s side.


The literary flea market is just past the red trolley at a small square.

#2. Ivan Federov, produced the first printed book in Ukraine.

Bullied out of Moscow in the time of Ivan the Terrible by the religious leaders because they were threatened by his potential power to print books that would take away their livelihood as scribes; and, be a danger to their monopoly on religious doctrine issues.  He moved to the peace loving city of L’viv, and created the first publishing house, and published the first book in 1574 called “Deeds and Epistles of the Holy Apostles”.  There was an original printing run of 1200 copies and today close to 100 copies have been preserved in libraries throughout Europe and in private collections.


Every day Ivan stands proudly over his flock of booksellers at the daily literary flea market near the market square. I, myself have purchased a few English language novels here.  It is one of my favourite places because of the wide variety, age and subject matter and people you see here.


Support free speech no matter where you are!


Just a quick 2 minute stroll from the literary flea market you will find the statue of L’viv resident Nikifor Drovniak.

#3. Nikifor Drovniak, illiterate “naïve” artist


This man was born in 1895, in a small Polish Village to very poor parents and was orphaned in WW1.   He inherited a hearing and speech impediment from his mother. Because of these environmental conditions he was culturally and emotionally isolated, could not communicate with people and therefore was treated as a misfit in society.

The one thing that he did continuously throughout his life was to create through watercolor and graphic art.  It is reported that he felt that God had given him a mission through the use of color and design.  He would draw on anything he could find … small pieces of paper, cardboard, chocolate wrappers, or the opposite side of used paper, using the cheapest paint available. None of his works were any larger than a standard piece of paper.

He was focused on and devoted to the Greek Catholic church as demonstrated by the subject of the drawings.  Churches, chapels, religious leaders and saints; along with landscapes and railroad subjects.  He also created many self portraits.

No-one really knows how many drawings he had done, but the estimate is in excess of 30,000.  In 1932 a L’viv based artist took the drawings and paintings to  the Leon Marseilles gallery in Paris, France and it was there that Nikifor became a legitimately recognised “naïve” artist. Many of his works are in private collections. There are a few in the National Museum in L’viv but most of his canvases are in the small Polish town of Krynica at his museum.

Although he was a recognised artist he struggled in poverty his entire life, often trading his works for food.  People along the way did help him, but his early life experiences kept him distant from society.

You can learn more about this remarkable man through a 2006 movie called My Nikifor.  Go to: Culture.pl/en/work/my-nikifor-krause







Kerosene (keroselain- wax oil)

If you are anything like me you have never spent more than one hour thinking, speaking or reading about kerosene.  But that changed when in L’viv, Ukraine I discovered the Kerosene Museum.

IMG_20170820_115051According to history kerosene became a “thing” in the 9th century in Persia, discovered by a chemist named Razi and written about in his “Book of Secrets”

Kerosene is used worldwide under different names.  If you were in Chile,  Eastern Africa, South Africa or the United Kingdom you might be buying paraffin. If you were in asia you might be buying lamp oil, and in the United States it was called coal oil; but, is also known as white naptha.

A little divergence here. I remember my Grandmothers using Fels-Naptha soap in the old wringer washing machine.  Fels Naptha soap is a sodium salt from Tuerpene, processing hydrocarbons and it is now produced by Purex Corporation. They say that if you grate 1/2 bar of Fels Naptha and add it to your wash it will eliminate residual stains. I don’t know if I want to stand around and grate half a bar of soap but if you do, you can purchase Fels-Naptha bar soap from Amazon, Walmart or Ace Hardware – happy soaping!

IMG_20170820_115058So what is kerosene?  Actually, it’s a clear liquid produced by distilling petroleum.  It’s used as fuel in jet engines, rocket fuel; or, if you’re camping it’s used for cooking and lighting fuel.  In Asia it’s used in motorcycle engines and outboard motors.

Recent history of kerosene starts in 1846, in Canada with geologist Abraham Gesner, in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island where he developed a new process for making kerosene. Gesner wanted to patent his new process in Canada but ran up against governmental regulations and petroleum industry roadblocks, so in 1854 he moved to New York state and patented “Kerosene”.

In 1846 another chemist from Scotland by the name of James Young also found a process for making kerosene.  He took out a patent in both Scotland and the United States prior to the 1854 patent of Gesner.

In 1851 Samuel Martin Kier known as the “Grandfather of the American Oil Industry” came along with carbon oil.

And now we come to L’viv and Ignacy Lukasiewicz a Polish pharmacist living in L’viv, and his Hungarian partner Jan Zeh who worked to improve upon Gesner’s process, using the petroleum from a local seep.


…. I don’t know which guy is hanging out of the window in the second floor, your guess is as good as mine 🙂

The local people did not really take them seriously until the night of July 31st 1853 when there was an emergency in the local hospital; and none of the lamps were bright enough to allow the surgery to proceed. The surgeon, knowing about their experiment with bright lantern light urged someone to go and get the lanterns from the pharmacist.

They were amazed at how bright the light was.  After the brilliant success (pun) in the surgery the pharmacist quit his job at the pharmacy, travelled to Vienna and registered a patent on his product.  In 1854 he moved to Poland with his patented product, and subsequently set up a refinery in 1859.

A side benefit to the discovery of kerosene is that in prior times whale oil had been the typical product for lamps.  When kerosene became widely used, whale hunting decreased. In 1858 there were 199 whaling ships, in 1860 there were 167, in 1866 105, and in 1874 only 39.

Buy Kerosene – Save a whale!