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December 18, 2023
Nearly 17,000 visitors, 3 days, and almost 40 program points.
From June 26 to June 28, 2015, the Silesian Museum in Katowice opened its new headquarters, marking the beginning of a new chapter in its history. The first visitors had the opportunity not only to see five complementary permanent exhibitions, offering a unique blend of history, professional art, amateur art, and theatrical scenography but also to participate in numerous attractions both inside the museum buildings and in the open park space of the Silesian Museum.
The three-day festival program was rich in offerings prepared for both families with children and enthusiasts of Silesian history and culture. Discussion panels such as “Imagined Silesia. Dreamed Silesia,” “Local Silesia, Global Silesia,” and “Silesia in the Event Simulator” attracted approximately 120 attendees. Among the invited panelists, moderated by Ewa Niewiadomska, Adam Kowalski, and Dr. Krzysztof Karwat, were individuals such as Tomasz Konior, Robert Talarczyk, Lech Majewski, and Jarosław Racięski. For fans of outdoor games, there were “Meluzyny and New Technologies” as well as a family boule tournament held on the flowerbed paths. For the youngest attendees, a special play zone was prepared, where they had the opportunity to emulate the masters of non-professional artistry, much like Erwin Sówka and Paweł Wróbel. Among the outdoor attractions, the ascent to the “Warsaw Shaft” tower enjoyed immense popularity. Despite having to wait for about an hour for their turn, there was no shortage of eager participants, with nearly 2,500 people in total ascending the over 40-meter tower. Fans of contemporary art were drawn to street art workshops and a multimedia presentation inspired by characters from the book by Ewa Kucharska and Marek Jagielski. Finally, to conclude the event, attendees could witness a narrative mapping by Magda Bartkiewicz-Podgórska prepared in the museum park space.
The exhibition “Light of History: Upper Silesia Throughout the Ages” made the biggest impression on visitors, showcasing the turbulent history of the region. Presented through exhibits, photographs, scenography, films, sounds, and lights, it captivated both in form and content. In the vast open space of the new setting, works previously partially known from the old location of the Silesian Museum, exhibited in the Gallery of Polish Art 1800-1945 and the Gallery of Polish Art after 1945, as well as the entirely new Gallery of Non-Professional Art, were given new expression. This was accompanied by a temporary presentation of graphics by Jan Nowak, who once worked as a “sztygar” (foreman) at the KWK Katowice coal mine.
On the lowest level, -4, visitors had the opportunity to trace the development of the theatrical space in the permanent exhibition “Laboratory of Theatrical Spaces – Past in the Present.” They could also explore the exhibition “Museum in Organization. Museum in Imagination,” inviting them to consider what the fate of the Silesian Museum would be if history had taken a different course. This exhibition also serves as a pastiche of a classic exhibition space, where historical truth intertwines with fiction.
Festival guests also had the chance to see for the first time the work of Leon Tarasewicz, created specifically for the opening of the Silesian Museum’s new headquarters. “Modry,” a wooden construction, is located in the central hall on level -2. Access to it and other exhibitions was facilitated by the mobile application for Android and iOS that was made available on the first day of the Opening Festival.
After a two-hour tour of the exhibitions, visitors could enjoy a relaxation area organized near the “Bartosz” shaft, where everyone could take a break, listen to concerts, and explore objects located in the mining buildings. In total, during the Opening Festival, 16,440 visitors from Silesia, Poland, and beyond the country’s borders visited the Silesian Museum. It’s worth noting that from June 30th to the end of July, visitors will still be able to enter the new Silesian Museum building for free without requiring a ticket.
The first half of the second day of the Opening Festival was dedicated to special guests. Approximately 300 people attended the inaugural lecture titled “The Past as a Foreign Country: Dialogues of History with Memory,” delivered by Professor Robert Traba, the director of the Center for Historical Research at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Berlin. Following the lecture, the guests, along with curators, explored the exhibitions. Among the visitors to the Silesian Museum were Minister of Culture and National Heritage Małgorzata Omilanowska, Marshal of the Silesian Voivodeship Wojciech Saługa, members of the Honorary Committee, and representatives of institutions and local government authorities.
Investment Supervision: ECM Group Polska S.A.
Contractor: Budimex S.A.
Location: The entire complex of the new Museum covers approximately 25,000 square meters of usable space in newly constructed and revitalized buildings. It was built on the site of the former Katowice coal mine.
As part of the project, the following were constructed: the Main Building of the Silesian Museum, a multi-level parking lot and hall, serving as the central point of the Museum Quarter. Additionally, the area was revitalized and adapted for public park use. During the construction work, control and security systems were also installed.
Total area of the facility: 36,000 square meters.
Project value: Nearly 273 million Polish złoty.