'POLISH MARITIME ACTIVITY IN THE 1918-1945 PERIOD'. A NEW PERMANENT EXHIBITION AT THE CENTRAL MARITIME MUSEUM IN GDANSK ('Dzialalnosc morska Polaków w okresie 1918-1945'. Nowa stala wystawa w Centralnym Muzeum Morskim)
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On 2 April 2007 the Central Maritime Museum in Gdansk opened an exhibition on 'The maritime activity of the Poles in the 1918-1945 period', demonstrating the way in which during the titular period the Poles built a merchant navy, a Navy and a fishing fleet, a port and a shipyard in Gdynia, and established suitable institutions and legislation. In merely twenty years they eliminated more than a hundred years of backwardness caused by the partitions. Alongside themes presented at earlier permanent expositions and temporary shows, the exhibition in question features questions never broached by the museum such as the Pinsk Flotilla, water sports in the Free City of Gdansk or the shipyard industry in the Second Republic. It was possible to expand the exhibition's range thanks to the efforts of the Museum staff, specialists in assorted fields of knowledge about the sea who by basing themselves on most recent historical studies, created a wide scenario. The exposition displays 259 exhibits from the museum resources: paintings, sculptures, photographs, documents, models, banners and souvenirs, including many new or never shown items. The Navy Museum in Gdynia, the Polish Army Museum in Warsaw, the Museum of the City of Gdansk and private persons loaned some of the exhibits. The gathered collections illustrate the following topics: 'The struggle for independence and access to the Baltic', 'Sailors in the struggle for independent Poland 1918-1920', 'The return of Pomerania to Poland', 'Sea academies' (Technische Hochschule in Gdansk, the Sea Academy in Tczew and Gdynia), 'Economic problems' (Ports and sea navigation, The development of fishing, The shipbuilding industry, Inland navigation), 'The propagation of maritime issues' (The Sea and Colonial League, Maritime museums, Literature, Music, Atlantic trips of Polish sailors, Canoeing, Rowing, Mariusz Zaruski, Water sports in the Free City of Gdansk), 'The development of the Polish Navy and the participation of Polish ensigns during the Second World War' (The Polish Navy in the years 1920-1939, The activity of the Polish Navy and the Polish PMH alongside the Royal Navy). Particularly noteworthy exhibits include donations by Barbara Woroncow (United Kingdom): the airman uniform of her father, Aleksander Woroncow, who served in the 307 Night Fighter Squadron the 'Lwow Eagle-owls' in Exeter, and a valuable collection of the souvenirs of her grandfather, the social activist and politician Jan Kwapinski, Minister of Industry, Trade and Navigation in the governments of Wladysław Sikorski and Stanisław Mikolajczyk (1942-1947). As the only monographic portrayal of the maritime history of the Second Republic the presented exhibition plays an especially significant educational role for young visitors.
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