PROFESSOR JANUSZ DURKO (1915–2017)
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Janusz Durko, Prof. Dr with habilitation, was a historian, an archivist, and a distinguished museologist. Born in Warsaw, he graduated from Warsaw University, history faculty (1938); then spent a whole WWII here. After the liberation from German occupation, he worked in the Capital City Reconstruction Office (Biuro Odbudowy Stolicy), then in the Institute of National Remembrance (Instytut Pamięci Narodowej) founded to conduct research on contemporary history. His doctorate degree he obtained in 1948, habilitation in 1955, professorship in 1964. In 1951, he was appointed to the post of a director of the Main Historical Museum, which two years later was changed into the Historical Museum of Warsaw. The permanent exhibition he opened in 1955 was the first, exhaustive and complete, attempt to give the synthetic presentation of Warsaw past; the museum itself – as an institution of the greatest importance in the field of historical museums in Poland at the time – was inspiring a development of historical exhibitions also in museums of other countries. This helped Janusz Durko to establish his highly regarded professional position: he had been invited to be a member of many committees, councils (including museum ones) and associations, as well as editorial boards of magazines, inter alia, “Museology”. In the years 1951–2003, when Janusz Durko was the head of the Historical Museum of Warsaw, it was one of the main institutions for research on Warsaw history, the venue of numerous conferences, sessions and temporary exhibitions. It was maintaining good relations with many other countries, creating intensely its own collection, and offering an attractive educational programme. The number of its branches was steadily growing. Among Professor’s publications (ca. 140) of various kind there is one of an undoubtedly monumental character: eight volumes of the Bibliografia Warszawy (1958–2006) edited by him, where he registered everything, or nearly everything, that was being published on Warsaw in the years 1795–1970. In recognition of Professor’s achievements he had been awarded a number of times with, inter alia: the Minister of Culture and Arts Award of 1st degree for protection of cultural heritage, the Award of Capital City of Warsaw (twice), title of “Homo Varsoviensis”, the Order of Polonia Restituta First Class – the Grand Cross with Star, the Gold Medal for Merit to Culture “Gloria Artis”. After getting retired in 2003, Professor Durko still maintained close relation with museum by being a member of the Museum Council (2004–2008). In 2015, the institution he had been running for 52 years had an honour of hosting him for the last time during the celebration of his 100th birthday. He died a year after and was buried in the Powązki Military Cemetery.
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