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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Warsaw. The Polish Academy of Sciences wants to liquidate the Museum of the Earth. What about valuable collections?

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Preparations for the liquidation of the Museum of the Earth are underway – informed the Polish Academy of Sciences. The future of two historic buildings at Na Skarpie Avenue, occupied by the Polish Academy of Sciences, is in doubt: the Branicki Palace and the villa of the famous architect Bohdan Pniewski. Valuable collections of geological heritage, including the skeleton of a forest elephant excavated in the 1960s in the center of Warsaw, may soon find their way to Kraków. PAN, when asked by us about the reason for closing the museum, does not hide that it is about money.

“Bad things are happening … The Polish Academy of Sciences wants to sell a unique monument – Pniewski’s villa located on the Warsaw escarpment, where the Museum of the Earth has been located since the post-war period. The Polish Academy of Sciences wants to move the Warsaw geological collections to Krakow and close the museum collections in warehouses” – reported on social media initiative “Here it was, it happened here”, which deals with Warsaw’s urban space, including the protection of monuments.

Petition in defense of the museum

“It will be a disastrous move for the Museum itself, after all, we have no other natural history museum, but also for the villa itself, whose fate will be uncertain, and the villa itself, which has wonderful interiors, after being taken over by a private owner, will probably be closed to visitors” – we read further in the post.

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A petition in defense of the museum was also made available. As it was recalled, the institution has been an important point on the map for 75 years Warsaw museums and “fills the void of a natural history museum.” As mentioned, it collects and presents collections important for the Polish geological heritage: mineralogical and petrographic, paleontological, valuable collections of amber and other fossil resins, and one of the largest national collections of meteorites in this part of Europe. “The Museum of the Earth creates unique collections: of art interpreting natural collections or the first museum collection of the Anthropocene in Poland” – it was indicated.

“The collections of the Museum of the Earth have an invaluable potential and are historically associated with Warsaw, and their transfer to Krakow will mean breaking out of the research context. For decades, the Museum of the Earth has been visited by Varsovians and tourists seeking knowledge about the Earth,” the petition continues.

Finally – as noted – the seat of the Museum of the Earth is an important point on the map of Warsaw – the white Branicki palace and the Pniewski villa at Aleja Na Skarpie. According to the museum’s defenders, these buildings “should remain open to the public, and it was with this intention that they were handed over to the Museum of the Earth.” According to social activists, they are not only a remnant of Szymon Bogumił Zug’s palace and garden complexes, but above all a pearl of Polish architecture.

An insurgent’s blood stain preserved in marble

“Bohdan Pniewski’s villa is not only the home of one of the greatest Polish architects, but also a place of memory of the Warsaw Uprising – with traces of bullets in the walls and a stain of insurgent blood on the stairs. Such an important building should not be treated in commercial or investment terms for the purpose of seeking quick profit Pniewski’s villa should remain available to the public.

Traces of blood of an unknown insurgent preserved in marble in the Museum of the Earth Mateusz Szmelter / tvnwarszawa.pl

“The president has started preparations for the liquidation of the Museum of the Earth”

We asked the Polish Academy of Sciences for a comment on this matter. Anna Bracik from the Office for Communication and Scientific Information gave us the answer. As she noted in a statement sent to our editorial office, “The President of the Polish Academy of Sciences has started preparations for the liquidation of the Museum of the Earth in Warsaw at Aleja na Skarpa 20/26 and the transfer of the collections to the museum operating at the Institute of Geological Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences”.

“The Polish Academy of Sciences is unable to continue financing the Museum of the Earth in the current formula. This is due to the expected high costs of renovating the seat of the Museum and the budget constraints of the Chancellery of the Polish Academy of Sciences preventing the continuation of employing the employees of the facility” – we read further.

As it was assured, “incorporating the collections of the Museum of the Earth into the resources of the Institute of Geological Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences will enable their further use for scientific and exhibition activities.”

“Ultimately, these collections should be exhibited in a museum institution that gathers valuable collections of the Museum of the Earth of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Paleobiology of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Museum and Institute of Zoology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Poland is one of the few European countries without a real museum of natural history” – wrote Bracik.

“We would like to inform you that the Polish Academy of Sciences has not made any binding decision to sell the buildings housing the Museum of the Earth. If such a decision is considered, it will be made in compliance with the obligations obliging the Polish Academy of Sciences to maintain the cultural functions of the seat of the Museum of the Earth of the Polish Academy of Sciences” – we read at the end of the statement.

Rich collections, including a unique skeleton

As we read on the website of the Museum of the Earth, the collection currently includes over 190,000 objects. “They include rich collections of minerals and rocks, meteorites, fossil flora and fauna from the territory of Poland and other regions of the world, as well as valuable archives in the field of the history of earth sciences. A special position is occupied by rich collections of Baltic amber and other fossil resins ( over 29.5 thousand specimens), which are among the largest museum collections of this type in the world.

Mammoth skull in the Museum of the Earth in Warsaw Mateusz Szmelter / tvnwarszawa.pl

One of the most interesting collections are Pleistocene mammals. In addition to the valuable collection of mammoth molars, there are: the best-preserved skull of a forest rhinoceros in European collections, antlers and a skull of a giant deer, as well as a unique in terms of completeness skeleton of a forest elephant excavated in 1962 in the center of Warsaw and recognized as one of the most important finds of this species on a European scale. species.

Main photo source: Mateusz Szmelter / tvnwarszawa.pl



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