Anna M. Drexlerowa and Andrzej K. Olszewski, Poland's contribution to development of international intellectual heritage: Participation in the world exhibitions 1851–2005, The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Warszawa, 2008, 432 págs.

Leonard Lukaszuk


 

RESUMEN: The author discusses a pioneering contribution of the Polish merit exhibitors representing Poland's culture and civilization both in 19th and 20th centuries during the all world exhibitions in Europe /inter alia in Spain, Sewilla), North America and Asia. The Polish nation's achievements in science, technology and art were presented at these exhibitions in the terms when Poles were deprived of their national state's identity as results of the partitions by the foreign great powers of Europe, and than when Poland become full independence as a country. This heritage also included a lot of achievements of the large Polish Diaspora in the main high developed western countries. The history of this Polish cultural and civilization heritage was a subject of comprehensive and comparative scientific research by the two Polish authors, as very competent presented in the two comprehensive monographs issued both in Polish and English languages in 2005 and 2008 by Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in Warsaw.

PALABRAS CLAVE: History of the world exhibitions, history of Poland Poland's intellectual and cultural heritage, Polish industry and art, Polish amber, Polish navy.

In the new significant book on: Polish participation in world exhibitions 1851–2005 by Anna M. Drexlerowa and Andrzej K. Olszewski, edited by The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Warszawa 2008, (432 pp.), have been discussing world exhibitions as comprehensive expressions and reflections of the general state of innovation and progress – from industry to the fine arts in the world at this period of time.
This book is really pioneering work as the first one to document the Polish presence at such world exhibitions. It is the fascinated history of very merit exhibitors representing of Poland’s culture and civilization as a country and nation that did not exist on the maps of Europe in 19th and nearly in two decades of 20th century and than also the history of the presence of a state, which, as an independent nation, started its participation in these world exhibitions twice- after World War I in 1925 in Paris, and after World War II in 1992 in Seville, Spain.
These preconditions made it necessary to have a differentiated approach to the described facts and issues and to divide in this book the topic into two parts prepared by two authors.
History of Poland were presented in the painting of the famous Polish master of fine arts Jan Matejko at the world exhibitions.
As official names of these exhibitions were:
· The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations (short name – Great Exhibition) in London-Hyde Park, 1851;
· Universal Exposition of products of agriculture, of industry and fine arts in Paris, 1855;
· London International Exhibition on Industry and Art, 1862;
· Exposition Universelle de Paris, 1867;
· Welt-Ausstellung 1873 in Wien;
· International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures and Products of the Soil and Mine, Philadelphia, 1876;
· Exposition Universelle de 1878, Paris;
· Exposition Universelle de 1889, Paris;
· World’s Columbian Exposition, also called as the Chicago World’s Fair (1893);
· Exposition Universelle et Internationale de Paris, 1900;
· Exposition Universelle et Internationale de Bruxelles, 1910;
· Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, Paris, 1925;
· Exposition Universelle et Internationale de Bruxelles, 1935;
· Exposition Internationale Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne, Paris, 1937;
· New York World’s Fair, 1939–1940;
· Exposición Universal de Sevilla, 1992;
· Expo’93 – in Taejon (South Korea, 1993);
· Expo’98 (Lisboa, 1998);
· Die Weltausstellung Expo’2000 (Hannover);
· Expo 2005, Aichi (Japan).

In the first half of the 19th century exhibitions of industry were national in nature and focusing on activities related to production. One of the Polish reporters from London observed that “Industrial man received recognition for itself” (as “Homo faber”). Exhibitions contributed to the stimulation of technical progress as of importance for the world economy, and speeded up the flow of information towards parity in the level of civilization, as well as protection of both intellectual and industrial property rights. Polish participation in such exhibitions meant being present in a cultural community of “second wave” states, and in the experiences, which this community built.
Studies and books devoted to the exhibitions were – both of a scientific and a popular nature as well as various types of analyses. Polish participation is not noted until very late in the history of exhibitions, until 1925 and, thus beginning with the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in Paris. Poles took part in all of the world exhibitions, beginning with the first one, but as reasons for this information discrepancy were the political shape that Europe received after the Napoleonic wars and also upon the regulations of the exhibitions.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the Polish state was removed from the map of Europe and its territory was partitioned and placed within the borders of the three great powers of Europe: Austria, Russia and Prussia. The Poles became the subjects of these states, in three different administrative, economic, and political systems. (All these occupied sections of the Polish lands were called partitions).
Participants of world exhibitions could only be states; this organizational principle was adopted in 1851 and consistently maintained. Poles were deprived of their national identity at the international exhibitions in the both 19th and early 20th centuries. Polish exhibitors could participate in them in accordance with the existing political divisions, as representatives of Russia, Austria or Prussia. As result: the majority of Polish exhibitors struggled with the problem of participating in world exhibitions or rejecting such participation.
Exhibitions give testimony that both Polish industry and Polish science existed, that agriculture was being improved and that the many million strong Polish communities incorporated into the empire of Austria-Hungary, into Russia and into Prussia, were able to draw attention to their own historical statehood, their own cultural identity. The exhibition in Chicago was an excellent example of how both these motivations, supplemented each other in the realization of Polish participation.
For the exhibitions from the period in which there was no statehood, Polish exhibitors were selected in the reviwed book from the official catalogues1 . The fine arts, that which was shown at exhibitions, regardless of the partitioning power to which a particular artist’s representation belonged, indeed it was entered into the history of Polish art, but in relation to the presentation of industry and crafts, the assumed premises would not allow the precise differentiation of Polish participation.
The most significant participation in the period was that of the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Poland (from the Russian partition), and all the factories in the territory of the Kingdom of Poland were recognized as being representative of Polish industry. Entrepreneurs who founded their businesses back in the Kingdom’s constitutional period (1815-1830), set deep roots into the country to which they were invited.
The foundations of the Polish textile industry were also being laid: the Żyrardów plants were founded, as well as the factories in Kalisz and in Białystok, and later in Łódź. These plants entered into the economic development of the country and into a societal situation, and were seen to be a decisive indicator for all industry in the Kingdom of Poland.
The situation of Polish manufacturing in Galicia (the Austrian partition), in the light of the treatment of the entirety of this province of the empire as a Polish economic organism is not fully accurate. Not everything could be representative – at the exhibitions – of undertakings by the Polish environments of this province of the Austrian empire.
In case of Prussia, only those exhibitors were dealt with, which, in reviews in the Polish press from the Duchy of Poznań, were discussed as representatives of Polish economic events.
The participation and achievements, attained at the exhibitions by Poles appearing also in the representations of the states that were not partitioning powers. The Polish Diaspora, after the uprisings of 1830 and 1863, was numerous, particularly in England and France and in reality were contributing to the material culture or to the intellectual life of the countries of their residence.
All World Exhibitions, were seen as the greatest appraisals of the general state of innovation and progress in the world in all areas – from industry to the fine arts and have played a great role in the development of architecture and engineering. Architecture represented in certain areas the highest achievements of technique and form.
Investments in the architecture and urban landscape of given cities erected often only for the occasion of the exhibitions, were not the typical temporary exhibition pavilions, and endured only in the form of photographs or drawings.
The 20th century, in which Poland participated as an independent country with its own pavilions and presented the achievements of the Polish nation in science, technology and art, and thus no longer within the structure of foreign states.
The exception here was the exhibition in Paris in 1900 that opened the 20th century. Polish achievements in all the areas were presented at the exhibitions, including structures, persons, institutions and awards, also as the place of this legacy in the world context. Polish matters were presented as broadly as possible – from the perspective of its architectural and urban conceptions, through current trends in art, to political and societal conditions.
The emphasis at the Seville (1992) exhibition was on the historical heritage of the era of Columbus, modern discoveries, and nature, as well as the history, geography and knowledge of astronomy of that time. The Pavilion of Navigation displayed copies of ships from the time of Columbus and Magellan. The Pavilion of the Future was devoted to the environment, energy, telecommunications and knowledge of the universe.
The Polish Pavilion was designed by the architect Fernando Mendoza Castells. The concept of it meant to express the idea of international Global Solidarity as well as Polish art and culture. The construction of the exhibition recalled that of a ship under construction, as a reference to Solidarity, the Gdańsk Shipyard and the Gdańsk appeal from 1981 to the peoples of Eastern Europe. An anchor from the ship, which by its siren, was the first to proclaim the signing of the August Agreements of 1980 in Gdańsk.
Among events of an international character in Seville, on UNICEF Day, the children of the world drew Earth Flags as a symbol of world solidarity, and there was an exposition in the Polish Pavilion of 75 drawings of the Earth Flags made by pupils of the Royal School of Maestranza de la Caballeria in Seville.
In the EXPO Press Center, during what were known as Flag Days, the artists were presented with medals of “Global Solidarity”. The National Bank of Poland released commemorative coins with a denomination of 200 zlotys that had a view of occasional the portal of the cathedral in Seville. The Polish Post introduced into circulation five occasional stamps.
The Polish Pavilion at the Lisbon Exhibition (1998) has the thematic slogan: Poland – Amber Coast. As a central focus of the composition of the interior was the installation, Four Oceans, in the form of a glass pyramid. Around the cone were scattered pieces of amber and tubular containers in which were displayed additional items of amber, as symbolizing the sea.
Expo’98 was accompanied by the Nautical Exposition, and the folowing ships arrived from Poland: the tall ship Dar Młodzieży with the exposition Poland on the Baltic on board; Nawigator XXI, with the exposition Polish Marine Economy, the tall ship Zawisza Czarny and the warship ORP Wodnik, which carried the exposition 80 Years of the Navy of the Republic of Poland. Operation Sail took place and Poland took second place in terms of 11 crews.
In the Polish exposition at Taejon Expo’93 before the entrance to the Pavilion stood the Motolotnia ML-l [ML-l Ultra-Light Aircraft] and a white and red windmill propeller - the logo of the Polish exposition - turned.·
The achievements of Polish science and industry were presented in six thematic block, and as the first was aeronautic technology: Warsaw Institute of Aviation; Warsaw University of Technology, The Institute of Aeronautics and Applied Mechanics; WSK State Aviation Works, Świdnik.
During the Hanover Exhibition (2000), the Polish pavilion presented inter alia the Astronomical Observatories of Nicolaus Copernicus and of modern astronomer Aleksander Wolszczan.
In sum up of this review and general remarks one can notice that Poland’s contribution to development of international intellectual heritage and supporting of it legal protection is of outstanding significance through participation in the world exhibitions. [Recibido el 11 octubre de 2011].


1 See: Anna M. Drexlerowa, Andrzej K. Olszewski, Polska i Polacy na powszechnych wystawach światowych 1851-2000 [Poland and Poles at International Word Exhibitions], Warsaw, 2005.

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