The Machine Hall of Lviv Polytechnic National University in Ukraine

Path to the revitalization of the space
Machine Hall

In the context of the third mission, many universities all over the world try to find efficient channels for cooperation with the public. Ukrainian universities are at the beginning of this path, but over time they are increasingly active in highlighting cultural heritage in its tangible and intangible dimensions as a tool to promote their brand.

Since 2019 Lviv Polytechnic National University (Ukraine) has been forming the strategy of cultural heritage management. There is a lot of things to be proud of the university traces its roots back to 1816. It is one of the oldest universities in Ukraine, and if we talk about its technical profile, in Europe in general.

Lviv Polytechnic and new tourist itineraries

On the background of the growing attractiveness of Lviv as a tourist destination, the statistics from the Tourist Information Center of Lviv City Council after 2016 shows the demand for new tourist itineraries. Moreover, the discussion among the city tour guides displays that Lviv Polytechnic National University with its campus (the oldest part of which was built in the 1870s), interesting interior sculptures, paintings made according to the sketches of famous Polish artist Jan Matejko (1838-1893), and other tourist attractions, has all chances to become such a popular tourist destination.

However, the university authorities have decided to define the organizational core of the route not the University Museum of History but specially created Museum Polytechnicae in the building of the machine hall (constructed in c. 1922-1925 by Witold Minkiewicz, Lviv, Ustianovycha Street, 5).

What should do with not useful artifacts and space?

Construction of machine hall is a cultural monument of local importance. The original plan of the building states “it is impossible to imagine the lectures on the construction of machines and hydraulic engineering” without the machine hall. Over the next decades, the hall was replenished with examples of various instruments and machines that had illustrated the teaching process. Over time, their teaching potential dried up. It makes it possible to move such machines into the category of museum exhibits.

Manufatti delle collezioni della sala macchine
Instruments of Machine Hall collections

Within the framework of recent fundraising projects, the university authorities seek to revitalize the machine hall, and among other tasks, it is planned to museify the educational space using innovative technologies and modern exhibiting methods.

Now in the machine hall, there are 24 instruments, which in the 1930s-1970s were used to provide the educational process with practical elements for Mechanical Department students: the turbine unit, internal combustion engine (made in 1911), a jet turbine rotor, and others. The massive size of most instruments and their stationary nature is a challenge for creating the museum exhibition.

The university has the advantage in doing such work, because it has departments of museology, information systems, architecture, and staff skills that can be used for this task. The instruments accumulated thanks to seeking activity will complement the museum exposition. The scientific achievements of the university during its history will be illustrated by specially created exhibits.

Tool to develop the University Brand

A large area (1730 square meters) and favourable location concerning the main city tourist roots are additional factors, indicating the obvious dividends of the project for the university, and the city in general. It is a largely unique space, despite the interdisciplinary nature of the activities that are planned to organize on its basis. Promotion of scientific and technical knowledge is one of the main tasks, and previous unsuccessful initiatives to create a Centre of Science in Lviv show the importance of such a mission.

Piani di rivitalizzazione
Museum Polytechnicae of Lviv

Authors of the revitalization indicate among the priorities of this process the creation of a visual identity for space under the Museum Polytechnicae brand, the innovative design project for the conceptual revitalization of the landmark, a virtual tour of the space, various digital tools to ensure its presence in the network and others. Space will provide an excursion into the bicentennial history of science, technology, discovery, scientific and technological communications and plunge into the multicultural space of the university.

Despite the challenges faced by the initiators of the project, above all, the plans to revitalize the space show the university authorities have realized the importance of cultural heritage as a tool to promote its brand. It was not an easy and long path, but it has led to important decisions. There is a hope the consequences of its process can be shown afterwards.

Svitlana Muravska

Svitlana Muravska

She is associate professor in the Department of History, Museology and Cultural Heritage of Lviv Polytechnic National University. Her research interests focus on the history, theory and management of university collections and museums. Her book Museum institutions in the system of higher education of Western Ukraine against the background of world trends was published in 2018. For the last ten years, she is active in researching Museology and since 2019 she is D.Sc. in Historical Studies (specialization Museum and Heritage Studies). She has also worked in Museum of National University of Ostroh Academy (Ukraine) for 6 years. She is an ICOM member since 2013.