The War Up Close world tour featuring the world’s first VR documentary about the war in Ukraine

From February 22 till March 11, The War Up Close team, composed of the project founders Dmytro Matiash and Mykola Omelchenko, have held VR exhibitions in 5 countries in their the world tour dedicated to the anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

One-day exhibitions were held:

  • in the Victims of Communism Museum, Washington DС, on February 22;
  • in Sciences Po, Paris, on February 24;
  • in Café Kyiv, Berlin, on February 27;
  • in the Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw, on March 2;
  • in Gare Maritime Exhibition Hall, Brussels, on March 11.

The War Up Close team has undertaken to show the world the true extent of the disaster brought to Ukraine by the war waged by Russia against our country and the collective West, to capture those crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice.

The War Up Close team opened each exhibition with the project presentation. The visitors then watched VR documentaries showing the details of damages brought by Russia to peaceful cities and towns of Kyiv, Chernihiv and Kharkiv regions. Besides, dedicated Leave-a-Message-for-Ukrainians spaces were established, where hundreds of people wrote words of compassion and support to the people of Ukraine.

Many visitors were dumbfounded by what they saw, saying that the media did not show the whole truth about the war and devastation it had caused. “The world must see this!” said Norbert Lammert, Chair of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, commenting the exhibition.

In total, over 3,000 people from over 10 countries attended the exhibitions, including a number of honorary guests:

  • Oksana Markarova, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States;
  • Kateryna Smahlii, First Secretary at the Embassy of Ukraine in the USA;
  • Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation;
  • Ambassador Andrew Bremberg;
  • Michael Sawkiw, Jr., Vice President of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America;
  • Maryna Baydyuk, United Help Ukraine President;
  • Karl Altau, JBANC Managing Director;
  • Viktoriia Hulenko, Director of the Culture and Information Centre within Ukrainian Embassy in France;
  • Science Po Director;
  • Norbert Lammert, former President of the Bundestag, Chair of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation,
  • Oleksii Makeiev, Ambassador of Ukraine to Germany;
  • Halyna Hryhorenko, Deputy Minister of Culture of Ukraine;
  • Yana Kryvobok, Cultural Affairs Officer, Embassy of Ukraine in Poland;
  • Natalia Anoshyna, Chargé d’Affaires of Ukraine to Belgium;
  • Kateryna Bilotil, First Secretary at the Embassy of Ukraine in Belgium;
  • representatives of the embassies of Lithuania, Georgia, the Atlantic Council Eurasia Center; EEAS, European Liberal Forum, etc.

Thanks to those exhibitions, The War Up Close Project has prompted a huge worldwide response. Just within a week, it was covered by the British iNews, Brazilian and Indian ВВС. People in a number of countries declare their readiness to support the project, including
Oleksii Makeiev, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Ukraine to Germany, says, “The War Up Close is a high-quality product. We’re going to help it become more popular.”

The tour was supported by our partners: USAID, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Ukrainian embassies in the USA and Belgium, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, United Help Ukraine, CFC Big Ideas, and Funberry. It aroused a great interest in many countries, so we are planning future immersive exhibitions in other cities.

About The War Up Close

The War up Close Project is a project started in March 2022 to unveil the details of the genocide against the Ukrainian nation to the global community using 360° panoramic photos, drone footage and 3D modelling. For better immersing and more realistic experience, we demonstrate the images of Russia’s crimes using VR goggles and immersive exhibitions. Besides, a number of virtual museums of war has been created in KyivChernihiv and Kharkiv regions in coordination with public agencies for tourism.

Dmytro Matiash, The War Up Close Project Co-Founder:

“My partner Yurii Zozulia and I started this project shortly after the first missile attacks on Kyiv. It was clear that the methods we had been using for 5 years to digitalize sightseeing images could come in handy to document the destruction caused by Russian attacks. Following a brief discussion, we came up with The War Up Close concept and set about creating the project. Using our past experience, our team created identity, website and started experimenting with VR technologies for future exhibitions. The project geography was extended after the shooting in Kyiv was over. We then went on to Kyiv region, Chernihiv and Kharkiv regions. We launched the Virtual Museum of War in collaboration with Kyiv Region Military Administration. The War Up Close Project was supported by the MCIP and we started getting requests for unique images for online publishing from the mass media around the world (Japan, Romania, Germany) in the very first months. All this led to a world tour with our virtual exhibitions.”

Mykola Omelchenko, the first Google Trusted Photographer in Ukraine, has embarked on photo shooting for The War Up Close.

“There were many dangerous and touching moments during the shootings. For example, when we took pictures of a destroyed village in Chernihiv region using a UAV, a little girl, about five years old, came up and asked “Sir, are you going to bomb us?” We calmed her down, explained what we were doing and why, treated her with some candies and wrapped up. Another time, also in Chernihiv region, a man came out of a destroyed building and asked us what we were doing. We explained that we were capturing the damage to show it to the entire world. The man went to the cellar and brought us some plums, saying “Here, take some to eat on the way. Go take more pictures, let the world know what those bloody Muscovites are doing.”