150-year-old museum saved after looming expulsion from 13th century castle – The First News

Posted By on July 4, 2022

Founded in 1870, the Polish Museum based in Rapperswil castle overlooking lake Zurich in Switzerland, had come under threat following petitions from locals who wanted to reclaim the castle for other purposes. Roland Fischer/CC BY-SA 3.0

The oldest Polish museum abroad has been saved from closure after facing expulsion from a 13th century castle.

The 150-year-old Polish Museum based in Rapperswil castle overlooking lake Zurich in Switzerland, had come under threat following petitions from locals who wanted to reclaim the castle for other purposes.

Founded in 1870, the museum was established by Count Wadysaw Plater, an migr and insurrectionist of the November Uprising.

Public domain

Founded in 1870, the museum was established by Count Wadysaw Plater, an migr and insurrectionist of the November Uprising.Public domain

Set up with the aim of being a refuge for Poland's historic memorabilia dishonoured and plundered in the [Polish] homeland", the museum was to also promote Polish interests at a time when the country was divided between three empires and had ceased to exist on the map of Europe.

The museum quickly rose to the ranks of a Polish National Museum thanks to donations from around the world, which enlarged its collections and made it a centre of the Polish diaspora, focusing on testimonies of Polish culture and coordinating political efforts towards regaining Polish independence.

The museum quickly rose to the ranks of a Polish National Museum thanks to donations from around the world, which enlarged its collections and made it a centre of the Polish diaspora, focusing on testimonies of Polish culture and coordinating political efforts towards regaining Polish independence.polenmuseum.ch

From the beginning of its existence a library was also established at the museum, which at the turn of the 20th century, was the largest Polish library outside Poland.

At the end of the 19th century, two of Polands most important novelists Bolesaw Prus and Stefan eromski spent time working at the library and its archives, while celebrated poet and novelist Maria Konopnicka also visited.

In 1927, nine years after Poland regained independence and according to the request of Count Plater, the collections from the museum were transported by railroad to Poland.

From the beginning of its existence a library was also established at the museum, which at the turn of the 20th century, was the largest Polish library outside Poland.polenmuseum.ch

This included 3,000 works of art, 2,000 items of historical memorabilia, 20,000 engravings, 9,000 coins and medals, 92,000 books and 27,000 manuscripts.

During World War Two, 95 percent was destroyed.

In 1952, the museum started to operate in a new form, which continues to today, and began documenting the history of Polish-Swiss relations and the broader history of the Polish fight for independence up to 1989.

In 1952, the museum started to operate in a new form, which continues to today, and began documenting the history of Polish-Swiss relations and the broader history of the Polish fight for independence up to 1989.Roland Fischer/CC BY-SA 3.0

However, lack of local support for the museum remaining at the castle culminated in local authorities refusing to extend its lease, which expired on the 30th June 2022.

Deciding to help, the Polish government stepped in and bought the nearby Schwanen hotel complex, located only 150 metres from the castle.

The site of the ceremonial reading and signing of the Polish Museums founding act in 1870, the hotel was a popular meeting place for Polish emigres and of the Museums early management.

Deciding to help, the Polish government stepped in and bought the nearby Schwanen hotel complex (pictured left), located only 150 metres from the castle.Roland Fischer/CC BY-SA 3.0

During a visit to Switzerland on Friday, Polands minister for culture Piotr Gliski said that the hotel would now be the museums new HQ.

Gliski said: It is one of the oldest Polish institutions in EuropeThe Polish Museum will find its second home hereThank you very much to our Swiss partners who for many years, took care of Polish heritage.

Thank you also to the former owner of the Schwanen, for their good cooperation on this transaction.

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150-year-old museum saved after looming expulsion from 13th century castle - The First News

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