The 18th century building of the Kiev Arsenal.
|Founded||1764 (originally), reestablished in the post-WWII period|
|Founder(s)||Russian Empire, Soviet government|
|Products||arms equipment, various optics, precision mechanic and electronic products|
|Owner(s)||State of Ukraine|
|Parent||National Space Agency of Ukraine|
State enterprise of a special instrumentation Arsenal (Ukrainian: Казенне підприємство спеціального приладобудування «Арсенал», Kazenne pidpryiemstvo spetsialnoho pryladobuduvannya Arsenal), for brevity Arsenal Factory, is one of the oldest and most famous industrial factories of the Ukrainian capital Kiev.
Started in 1764 as a repair and production facility of the Russian army, the factory was initially based in a Kiev fortress compound in the Pechersk (Печерськ) district of the city. It is now a large state-owned company. Workers at the factory included sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko, who worked as a grinder at the factory prior to 1941.
The Revolution and World War II events
On January 29, 1918, the workers of the factory organized an armed pro-Bolshevik mutiny known as a Kiev Arsenal mutiny or a January Rebellion against Tsentral'na Rada, the Ukrainian assembly that declared the independence of Ukraine. To commemorate the event, the Soviet authorities preserved the historic defensive wall bearing the traces of shelling (situated on the city's Moskovs'ka Street near the Arsenal'na metro station).
While the civil production lines were added to the factory starting from 1918, the factory produced mostly the military related products throughout its history. In the 1920s, 1930s and during World War II the factory mainly produced the artillery, anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns. In summer 1941, immediately after the outbreak of the war between the Soviet Union and the axis powers, the factory was quickly evacuated to the Russian city of Perm in the Ural mountains far away from hostilities. The factory buildings in Kiev suffered heavy damages from German bombings. The relocated "Arsenal" continued to play a major role in the arming of the Nazi-fighting Red Army.
After the war, the Arsenal factory was reestablished anew at its Kiev location and partly converted into a civil company named Zavod Arsenal (while the other, smaller, part remained an unremarkable military repairing facility under a different name). Since that time, the name Arsenal is mostly associated with the larger company rather than with the military one (occupying the oldest building of old arsenal). During the Cold War arms race, Arsenal developed dramatically, becoming an important manufacturer of the military-related products and employing tens of thousands of people. The factory mainly specialized in optical components for the Soviet military and space programs. The factory also produced the professional grade photographic cameras "Kiev" but civil production played only a minor role in factory output. Tens of thousands of people where employed at the "Arsenal"
Perestroika and independence
After the beginning of perestroika, military orders dropped drastically and the Arsenal factory fell into a crisis which is still ongoing. The management attempted to convert the factory by concentrating more on consumer optics and other civil products, but these attempts did little to help the factory to emerge from the crisis. Comparatively insignificant figures of civil production sales could not support the employment of military-specialized workers in such numbers and maintain the gigantic premises.
After the beginning of Kiev's economic growth in the mid-1990s, the company found itself a significant real estate holder in an elite commercial and administrative district. The company's real estate, rather than largely deteriorated equipment and expertise, became its major asset. However, industrial activities (both civil and arms-related) continue to this day. The modern day military equipment produced at the Arsenal is mostly imported by Russia for its military and space program needs. The factory civil production includes consumer optics, medical and banking equipment, gauges for the natural gas and optical diode-based traffic lights.
Art museum project
In 2004, a Ukrainian oligarch and art philanthropist Viktor Pinchuk suggested to establish a modern art gallery in the oldest 19th century building of the Arsenal. This large fortress-like brick structure, situated on the Tsytadel'na Street and recognized as architectural monument, now belongs to the Ukrainian military and is poorly maintained. Later, Viktor Yushchenko, the President of Ukraine, expressed his support to the museum idea but suggested that the museum had to be state-run and dominated by more traditional art pieces in order to become a "Ukrainian Hermitage". The process of converting the building to a civil use is underway while the nature of the museum is still being discussed.
- Photo cameras