Remembering the disaster at Chernobyl

Visiting the Chernobyl Museum in Kiev is a most sobering experience.


The entry hall includes the road signs for each of the towns which was forced to be evacuated during the crisis. It also includes decorations from one of the local churches, reminders of the real lives which were so quickly abandoned when disaster struck.


There are many cases showing off reminders of the tremendous impact the failure of the number four power plant and the ensuing meltdown and contamination had on the area. There are photos and personal effects on display, similar to those shown in Hiroshima, Japan. And there are more than a few display cases dedicated to the heroic staff of the station and the other workers who followed them into the zone to contain the catastrophe. There are medals and certificates and other commendations on display and they are all quite impressive.


But there are no reminders of the efforts made by the Soviet Union to cover up the mess or the delays in responding or evacuating the affected. The lack of those bits is only slightly surprising.

We chose to rent the audio guide as part of our visit. I’m not always a huge fan of those but it was definitely useful in this case, particularly as virtually none of the exhibits included anything in English. It was also quite nice that they supported two sets of headphones on a single audio guide so sharing was possible. Many of the descriptions were a bit long-winded; we found ourselves cutting them off as often as not. But having the extra bit of information was quite useful.

We didn’t actually make the trip up to Chernobyl proper to see the site so this was the closest we got to the situation. It makes me want to actually come back and schedule the time to see the destruction in person. The history there is quite amazing.

Read more from this Trip Report under the Ukraine2012 tag here.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.