Journey Into the Unknown

A jubilee exhibition of the 5th anniversary of the POLONIKA Institute

Collegiate Church of the Holy Trinity in Olyka, Ukraine (1635/1640) by Melchior Erlenberg and Michał GermanusPOLONIKA The National Institute of Polish Cultural Heritage Abroad

The collegiate Church in Olyka (1635-1640), Ukraine

The collegiate church was founded by the Olyka-born Grand Chancellor of Lithuania, Albrycht Stanisław Radziwiłł. The church was modeled on Rome's Il Gesu and designed by the Italian architects Bendetto Molli and Giovani Maliverna.

Between Lviv, Vilnius, Riga, Paris, Rome, Chicago and small towns in Zimbabwe, Tanzania or Uganda, the POLONIKA Institute, together with its collaborators and partners, carries out projects aimed at preserving and restoring the memory of the cultural heritage associated with Poland and Poles which remains outside the country's current borders.

Our projects are carried out wherever Polish monuments are found and rescued from oblivion, wherever Polish artists and engineers produced their works, wherever Polish emigrants settled, wherever important historical events took place.

What can a collegiate church in Ukraine, a castle in France, or a railway station on the border of today's Belarus and Lithuania have in common with a 17th-century graphic dedicated to a French royal perfumer? Why are they part of Polish cultural heritage abroad?
We invite you on a journey to the places where Polonica is cared for by the POLONIKA Institute. From our many projects, we have selected some of the most interesting objects, and their history is a story about the richness of Polish cultural heritage abroad.

Adam Mickiewicz’s tomb at the cemetery in Montmorency, France (1866) by Auguste PéraultPOLONIKA The National Institute of Polish Cultural Heritage Abroad

The tombstone of Adam Mickiewicz (1867), Montmorency in France

At the cemetery in Montmorency near Paris, a tombstone of Adam and Celina Mickiewicz was erected in 1867. The medallion with Mickiewicz ‘s portrait was created in 1866, and the tomb was unveiled the following year. In 1890 the remains of Adam Mickiewicz were transferred to the Crypt of the National Bards at the Wawel Cathedral in Cracow. 

The ceramic sculpture by Stanislaw Reychan from the Matthew Bateson Collection in London, the UK (1959/1960) by Stanisław ReychanPOLONIKA The National Institute of Polish Cultural Heritage Abroad

The ceramic "Zebra" by Stanisław Reychan (1960), London, UK

Matthew Bateson's art collection is gatehring the works of Polish émigré artists – painters, printmakers and sculptors creating in the 2nd half of the 20th century in Britain. The collection has preserved important works, which without it would likely have been dispersed and lost.

The Girl Musician – drawing by Wojciech Grottger, Montrésor Castle, France (1860) by Artur GrottgerPOLONIKA The National Institute of Polish Cultural Heritage Abroad

Artur Grottger's "The Girl Musican" (1860) , Montrésor, France

Ksawery Branicki was one of the colorful figures of the Great Emigration. He generously supported Polish artists in exile in France. The romantic portrait of the girl musician he bought directly from the painter. He vastly overpaid the artist in order to support him financially.

The Bieniakonie railroad station, Belarus (1925/1935)Original Source: Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe

Bieniakonie train station (c. 1930), Belarus

The town of Bieniakonie is in today's Belarus, not far from the border with Lithuania. In the interwar period from its small railroad station one could take a train to Vilnius or Lida. The station building, whose architecture is modeled on the characteristic shape of a Polish noble manor house with a hip roof, was built during the Second Polish Republic.

The nautilus chalice from the collection of the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Lutsk, Ukraine (1700/1800)POLONIKA The National Institute of Polish Cultural Heritage Abroad

The nautilus chalice in Lutsk Cathedral (18th cent.), Ukraine

The decorative chalice of a unique shape is made from the shell of a large marine cephalopod Nautilus pompilius. These shells were brought to Europe from the Indian and Pacific Oceans along with oriental spices, tea and Far Eastern porcelain. The chalice may have been a votive offering with an important intention or in gratitude.

Etching of a civet by Jan Ziarnko made in Paris, France (1608) by Jan ZiarnkoOriginal Source: Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie / Muzeum Książąt Czartoryskich

The etching of a civet by Jan Ziarnko (1608) Paris, France

The etching of a civet bears the author’s signature in the lower left-hand corner: Joannes Ziarn:. On the back of the print is an inscription in Latin stating that the work was dedicated to the royal perfumer and another signature of the author, this time additionally bearing the word "POLON[us]."

Letter to the Turkish governor of Khotyn, Ukraine (1730/1739)POLONIKA The National Institute of Polish Cultural Heritage Abroad

Letter to the Turkish governor of Khotyn, Ukraine (1730-1739)

The letter was sent to the Turkish Pasha, the governor residing in Khotyn on the Dniester River. Khotyn was a border fortress passing between Polish, Moldavian and Turkish hands. Ilyas Kolchak Pasha resided there in the 1730s; at the time Khotyn was under Turkish rule, and the Commonwealth bordered the Ottoman Empire.

Montrésor Castle, France (1849)POLONIKA The National Institute of Polish Cultural Heritage Abroad

The Branicki family castle in Montrésor, France (19th cent.)

The history of the castle in Montrésor dates back to the Middle Ages, and when Róża Branicka, Ksawery's mother, bought it in 1849, it was in a bad state of repair, but over the next twenty years Ksawery Branicki had it thoroughly renovated. He created an exquisite private residence with a collection of works of art and collection of memorabilia and artwork related to Poland.

Celling paintings in the church of Saints Peter and Paul in Lviv, Ukraine (1739/1749) by Franz Eckstein, Sebastian EcksteinPOLONIKA The National Institute of Polish Cultural Heritage Abroad

Fresco paintings in former Jezuit church in Lviv, Ukraine (1739-1749)

Franciszek Eckstein began creating the paintings decorating the vault of the Sts. Peter and Paul Church in 1739. After his death in 1741, the work was continued by his son Sebastian, who completed it in 1749. The decorations of are occupying more than a thousand square meters. 

Jan Zamoyski's painting Little Maid, The Polish Museum of America, Chicago, USA (1938/1939) by Jan ZamoyskiOriginal Source: The Polish Museum of America

Painting "Little Maid" from the collection of Polish Museum in America (c. 1939)

The portrait of a girl holding a rooster was painted by Jan Zamoyski, a disciple of Tadeusz Pruszkowski at the Warsaw School of Fine Arts. The painting was one of the more than 11,000 works of art, handicrafts and industrial products sent by the Polish government to the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

Scenes from "Ramayana" at the Maharaja palace in Jodhpur, India (1943/1947) by Stefan NorblinPOLONIKA The National Institute of Polish Cultural Heritage Abroad

The "Ramayana" in the palace in Jodhpur, India (c. 1945)

 In the 1940s the Indian Prince Umaid Singh commissioned Warsaw-born Stefan Norblin to decorate his newly built palace.  Artist did a series of six paintings decorating the most representative Oriental Hall with the scenes from "Ramayana". Style developed by the artist combines Art Déco with the Indian traditions.

"Ramayana" z pałacu w Jodhpurze - film dokumentalny, realizacja: Instytut POLONIKA, 2018

Cemetery in Polish settlement in Ngesi, Zimbabwe (1942/1947)POLONIKA The National Institute of Polish Cultural Heritage Abroad

The cemetery at an old Polish settlement in Zimbabwe (1942-1947)

About eighteen thousand Polish refugees were sent to Africa during World War II.  They were sent to settlements built for them specially. These settlements had schools, hospitals and chapels, theaters, sports teams. 

"Katedra ormiańska" [Armenian Cathedral] - animated film for children in the series Polo and Nika, production: POLONIKA Institute, 2019

The Institute's objectives and activities involve projects carried out within three strategic programs called PROTECTION, RESEARCH and POPULARIZATION of Polish cultural heritage abroad.

The Institute also manages two grant programs supporting community activities and projects concerning the preservation, research and popularization of Polish cultural heritage abroad: program VOLUNTEER  and manages the government program of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage "Protection of Cultural Heritage Abroad".

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Credits: Story

Text and edition: Anna Ekielska
Translation: Małgorzata Matysik
Graphic design: Katarzyna Brzostowska

© Narodowy Instytut Polskiego Dziedzictwa Kulturowego za Granicą POLONIKA i and authors, 2022

Supervisory Institution: Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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