Chernobyl exhibit proves valuable investment of time

‘After the Explosion: Documenting Chernobyl’ is short but sweet


Fair use from Museum of Russian Art

Reactor No. 4 at Chernobyl, which blew up due to inadequately trained personnel, creating devastating nuclear fallout. Cleanup efforts where under equipped leading to high fatalities.

Henry Brettingen

The exhibit “After the Explosion: Documenting Chernobyl” is a unique experience, revealing rare insight into the historic tragic explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. Through the exhibit, the immediacy of the disaster becomes palpable and reveals additional insight into the Soviet regime.

The exhibit presents a unique collection of photographs of the Chernobyl nuclear cleanup. The never before seen images originate from the archive of Major General Nikolai Tarakanov who oversaw the removal of highly radioactive elements from the site of the infamous Chernobyl explosion. It depicts the abysmal conditions and poor equipment that workers were forced to work in.

The exhibit carries the unmistakable air of a collection of art that is culturally significant in regards to recent history. Through the grainy photos, a feeling of awe is conveyed, especially because most of the workers depicted would never recover from the radiation poisoning.

Although the photos were definitely of high quality simply due to their significance, they were not in large quantity, which is especially ironic considering it is a Russian museum. Unfortunately, the Chernobyl exhibit seemed more like a side event than a main attraction, simply due to the size of the collection. 

The exhibition “After the Explosion: Documenting Chernobyl” is a unique experience, one that anyone with a moderate interest in recent history should attend. It definitely would have been nice to see a more extensive collection of photos, but it is understandable due to the exclusive nature of the photographs.