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The photograph presents an important historical moment in the history of the main market square in Kraków, because it probably shows the reinstallation of the statue of Adam Mickiewicz in the Main Square on 26 November 1955.

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The photograph presents an important historical moment in the history of the main market square in Kraków, because it probably shows the reinstallation of the statue of Adam Mickiewicz in the Main Square on 26 November 1955. There are raised stands with Tadeusz Mrugacz — the then president of the city — standing in the centre, reading the text of his speech from a sheet. On the right side, there is a table with a document, around which stands a large group, mostly men together with two women; there is a crane in the background; the facade of the Cloth Hall is being visibly renovated, with its arcades covered by a wooden fence.
The back is stamped: “Edward Węglowski / A photojournalist of Dziennik Polski.
The author of the photograph — Edward Węglowski — was born on 14 September 1902 in Kraków. As a seventeen-year-old boy, he participated in the Polish-Bolshevik war; in 1928, he started working in the IKC zincography department; he was promoted and became the head of the department until 1939. In the years 1939–1947, he ran a photo studio at 58 Grodzka street with Jan Stachowic; in 1947, he started working as a reporter for Dziennik Polski. As a member of the ZPAF, he participated in numerous photo competitions; he received an AFIAP honorary diploma. He died on 21 September 1978.
What catches our attention is the table with the intriguing document, but there is no certainty regarding the exact nature of the ceremony. Most probably, this is the unveiling of the reconstruction of the monument of Adam Mickiewicz, on the hundredth anniversary of the bard’s death. The monument was destroyed by the Germans on 17 August 1940. After the war, it was reconstructed from elements found in 1946 at a scrap yard in Hamburg.
The photograph is black and white, gelatin-silver.

Elaborated by Małgorzata Kanikuła (Museum of Photography in Kraków), © all rights reserved

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What could Adam Mickiewicz’s monument have looked like? Behind the scenes of the competition

Although Kraków does not appear on the map of the cities where Adam Mickiewicz stayed, it is precisely here, at the most central point, that the poet’s monument was erected. Today, its presence seems obvious, but its creation was accompanied by heated discussions and disputes. The idea itself was born 14 years after the poet’s death...

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Although Kraków does not appear on the map of the cities where Adam Mickiewicz stayed, it is precisely here, at the most central point, that the poet’s monument was erected. Today, its presence seems obvious, but its creation was accompanied by heated discussions and disputes. The idea itself was born 14 years after the poet’s death − in 1869 when, thanks to the President of Kraków Józef Dietl, the collection of donations began.
In 1881, a preparatory competition was announced, and in 1882, 26 competition sketches were publicly presented in the Sukiennice. Interestingly, their creators paid more attention to the allegorical figures accompanying Mickiewicz than to the image of the poet himself.
The jury, which consisted, among others, of Jan Matejko, Wojciech Gerson, Marian Sokołowski, Władysław Łuszczkiewicz and Jan Zacharyasiewicz, awarded the first prize to Tomasz Dykas for the design Spłoszona kraska [The Startled European Roller], which presented the poet in the company of four allegorical figures: Polish Nationality, Genius, History and Poetry.
The verdict of the competition commission caused a wave of criticism. Henryk Struve wrote in Kłosy [The Ears] in 1882:
“The awarded design is strikingly trivial. We will not encounter in it any features that characterize the poet and his national significance. This is an academically designed object, [using] trite proportions.”
In the face of such doubts, a new competition was announced in 1884, in which the qualifying conditions for the designs were clarified − a monument presenting the poet as the dominant figure was to stand on the Main Square and, as such, fit into the architecture of the place.
This time, 31 offers were received – these were not just sketches, but plaster models. There was also an exception, after closing the competition, a sketch by Jan Matejko was received. The jury’s verdict was once again surprising. By the commission’s votes... Tomasz Dykas – the winner of the previous competition, won again. Mean people speculated that this was because the jury included, among others, the sculptor’s teacher, Klemens Carl Zumbusch. Another argument was also raised: perhaps it was not so much the simplicity and perfection of execution that was the decisive factor, but rather the relatively low costs of implementing the design (which is always important in Krakow).

Children drinking from the wellspring of poetry

What did the new Mickiewicz, who was supposed to fit into the Kraków landscape, look like?
At the foot of the poet, on the pedestal, the artist placed some children above a shell, from which water flowed (this was supposed to be an allegorical representation of a wellspring of poetry). The shell, however, did not evoke a favourable reaction according to the commission, a more appropriate choice would have been a crater or... a gilded urn.

The awarded artist could not enjoy his success for long, however, as in April 1885, it was unexpectedly announced that the awarded design would not be implemented and the issue of the monument would be taken over by Jan Matejko. This time, Mickiewicz was to sit on a chair; at his feet there would be a personification of Genius busy severing the bonds that held down an eagle. In addition, the allegories of the Vistula and the Neman were to appear on the plinth.
A year after the decision to abandon the implementation of Dykas’ concept, an exhibition of models by Teodor Rygier and Walery Gadomski based on Matejko’s sketches was opened (in the press there once more appeared unfavourable opinions, allegations regarding their excessive theatricality and mixing of romantic eccentricities). There was also a moral factor – the naked figure of Mickiewicz caused protests. Even the poet’s daughter contributed to the discussion, referring the poet’s resentment towards naked figures, especially crowned with a laurel wreath. 
In the face of another wave of the protests and unfavourable voices in 1886, a new open competition was announced, whose conclusion took two years. This time, Cyprian Godebski’s design was distinguished, alongside the works of Teodor Rygier and Walery Gadomski (second and third prize). This time, there was no shortage of surprises as well. Economic factors stood in the way. The implementation of the winning design turned out to be impossible. Thanks to Jan Matejko, Rygier’s design was chosen – however, it was not the distinguished one, but another one, to which the commission hadn’t paid much attention before.
In the end, Rygier modified the original idea over the course of his work.
The procedure of choosing a location deserves attention as well. The commission ordered the creation of a plaster model, which was to be driven around the squares of Kraków until it harmonized perfectly with the architecture of the surroundings.

Mickiewicz... as an Indian chieftain

The monument, erected in 1894, somewhat traditionally, received a wave of critical and satirical comments, which, because of the laurel wreath on the poet’s head, compared the sculpture of the bard to... an Indian chieftain (Rygier was not deterred from including this decoration by the poet’s resentment towards the laurel expressed earlier by his daughter).
To satisfy his opponents, the sculptor had to remake the figures of Mickiewicz and the personifications of Science and Patriotism.
The monument in its present shape was unveiled in 1898 (on the 100th anniversary of the poet’s birth). 29 years have passed from the inception of the idea to its implementation, these were the years of successive competitions, discussions and disputes, as well as unexpected extra-statutory twists of action that could serve as the basis of a film or a popular novel.
The awareness that the monument should be as great as the poetry, which has grown to the rank of a national myth, the effort to reflect the matter (in this case – words) properly, overwhelmed both the organizers, as well as those who were to bring this undertaking into effect. Today, when standing in front of the monument of Mickiewicz, it is difficult to recreate the heat of past disputes – that which used to be controversial has, over time, become obvious.

See:
Fragments of the monument of Adam Mickiewicz destroyed by the Germans
The photograph Main Market Square, ceremony on the occasion of re-erecting the Adam Mickiewicz monument” by Edward Węglowski

Elaborated by Editorial team of Małopolskas Virtual Museums,
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

References:
Waldemar Okoń, O krakowskim pomniku Adama Mickiewicza raz jeszcze, “Quart” (2006), vol. 1, pp. 18-31.

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“After Grunwald and Kościuszko, it was Mickiewicz’s turn”

17 August 1940: “After Grunwald and Kościuszko, it was Mickiewicz’s turn. Vandals furiously attacked the monument of the bard standing in the Main Market Square. In broad daylight at noon tools and lifts were brought in and all the figures were thrown off the pedestal — as if with some hidden passion or provocation“.

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The Demolishment of the Adam Mickiewicz Monument by the Germans, Kraków, August 1940. Property of the Kraków Photography Division of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków, Inv. no. MHK-Fn2567/IX

17 August 1940: “After Grunwald and Kościuszko, it was Mickiewicz’s turn. Vandals furiously attacked the monument of the bard standing in the Main Market Square. In broad daylight at noon tools and lifts were brought in and all the figures were thrown off the pedestal — as if with some hidden passion or provocation.” (Edward Kubalski, Niemcy w Krakowie. Dziennik 1 IX 1939−18 I 1945 [Germans in Kraków. Diary, 1 September 1939 – 18 January 1945]Kraków 2010).
The spectacular destruction of the monument resulted in anger even among those residents of Kraków who were not fully convinced about its appearance or did not attach particular importance to its existence. In those days, the monument became the national symbol: “surely not everyone was aware of who Mickiewicz really was. They came to understand him only after he had been thrown from the monument. This is when he entered their hearts. The monument fell down larger than when it had stood“, recalled Zygmunt Nowakowski. (Z. Nowakowski, Mój Kraków i inne wspomnienia [My Kraków and Other Memories]Warsaw 1994).
“17 August 1940: Crowds were standing around the police cordon, women were crying loudly. They were dispelled from time to time; numerous photographers that were gathered on the spot were beaten and arrested. This action, exactly like many other actions conducted by the occupant, turned out to be pointless, as two days later Kraków was in possession of over a dozen photos of the falling monument, and boys gathered at the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) approached people inspiring their trust and sold the photos: «Of Mickiewicz, who fell down» […] A peaceful Krakow was deeply shattered — it was the first time when common people, who were initially clearly impressed by the Germans, became really «enraged»“.
(Karolina Lanckorońska, Wspomnienia wojenne 22 IX 1939−5 IV 1945 [War Memoirs 22 September 1935–5 April 1945], Kraków 2001)

According to Kubalski, the destruction of the Mickiewicz monument was an element of preparation for the visit of Adolf Hitler to Kraków, which was planned either on 1 September or on 14 October. The visit, however, never took place. In a broader context, the action was yet another step, and definitely not the last one, to demonstrate the power of the occupant, to show disdain for Polish national symbols and gradually transform Kraków into a German city.

Elaborated by Kinga Kołodziejska (Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

See: Fragments of the Adam Mickiewicz Monument demolished by the Germans

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From a matchbox to the Adam Mickiewicz monument

The monument to Mickiewicz which was unveiled in Kraków in 1889 was not the only honour given to the poet after his death. Over the 34 years that passed since the 26th of November 1855 (the date of his death), the poet’s body and his person, reproduced in depictions and photographs, was idealised. With time, it became less and less similar to the original. It entered the sphere of myth and interpretation.

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The monument to Mickiewicz which was unveiled in Kraków in 1889 was not the only honour given to the poet after his death. Over the 34 years that passed since the 26th of November 1855 (the date of his death), the poet’s body and his person, reproduced in depictions and photographs, was idealised. With time, it became less and less similar to the original. It entered the sphere of myth and interpretation.
Mickiewicz died in Constantinople; his friends kept watch over his body and saw to it that all duties were fulfilled. A death mask of his face was cast (the original of which has since disappeared), a sketch was made and two photographs were taken. Then his body was embalmed and sealed in three coffins, which were secured for transport. According to some theories, this was an attempt to conceal the probable cause of death – cholera, which would have damaged the poet's image (with cholera, even the remains of the deceased had to be isolated).
At first, he was buried in Montmorency, France. However, for many it became a priority to bring the remains of the poet back to his country. This entailed a high cost and the need to obtain funding. Simultaneously, people began to raise money to build a monument to Adam Mickiewicz in Kraków. A permit to hold a public collection was issued as late as 1888. This accelerated the process of obtaining the required amount.
After the exhumation in Montmorency, gravediggers cut the useless zinc coffin into small pieces and made very practical souvenirs of them – souvenirs that were sold as relics...
Over the years, the popularity of objects with the image of Mickiewicz grew. His image could even be found on matchboxes and packages of toilet soap (available in two versions: as camomile or heather Tatra soap). Cigarettes also appeared on the market with the inscription “Souvenir from Kraków, 1890,” and the image of the poet on the mouthpiece... As Stanislaw Rosiek says in his work Zwłoki Mickiewicza (Mickiewiczs corpse), the poet’s cult knew no bounds or even good taste.
In 1890, the remains of the poet were reinterred in a solemn procession to Wawel Hill. Mickiewicz entered the stage in a laurel wreath, covered in glory.
After the ceremony, a special tableau created for this occasion appeared, containing pictures of the funeral procession accompanying the transfer of the remains, a fragment of the coffin and of the rope...
The monument, which was erected at the Main Market Square in Kraków, was unveiled in 1898. Members of the judging panel and authors of monument designs had had to face not only the personality of the poet and his work, but also notions about Mickiewicz and a kind of veneration of the poet after his death. Therefore, it is not surprising that so many years had passed from the concept to its realisation.

Source: Stanisław Rosiek, Zwłoki Mickiewicza, Słowo/obraz terytoria, Gdańsk 1997.

Elaborated by the Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums,
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

See also:
Fragments of the Adam Mickiewicz Monument demolished by the Germans

Photograph Main Market Square, ceremony to celebrate Adam Mickiewicz monument re-erection

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“Main Market Square, ceremony to celebrate Adam Mickiewicz monument re-erection”

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