MARIA ZNAMIEROWSKA-PRÜFFER – AN ETHNOLOGIST AND MUSEOLOGIST
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Born in Kybartai, Lithuania, on 13 May 1898, in the 1930s Maria Znamierowska studied ethnology at the Stephen Batory University (USB) in Vilnius under Prof. Cezaria Baudouin de Courtenay-Ehrenkreutz and Prof. Kazimierz Moszyński. She began working at the University Ethnographic Museum established by Prof. Ehrenkreutz; apart from the collection of material culture, the Museum researched into and collected records of oral and musical folklore. M. Znamierowska organized exhibitions on folk construction, and investigated folk fishery, the topic she dealt with in her MA thesis and doctoral dissertation. In 1925, she married the zoologist and entomologist Prof. Jan Prüffer. Following WW II, Znamierowska-Prüffer and a group of USB professors came to Toruń, where she was employed as lecturer at the Chair of Ethnology and Ethnography of the Nicolaus Copernicus University (UMK). She made attempts to establish an ethnographic museum resembling the Vilnius one at her Chair, however, she was only able to set up an ethnographic section at the Toruń City Museum (1946-1958). Having received Professor’s title in 1955, in 1959 she launched a separate Ethnographic Museum in Toruń, additionally establishing an ethnographic park by the museum. Her most important exhibition: ‘Traditional Folk Fishery in Poland’, was mounted in 1963. Committed to creating open-air museums in Poland, M. Znamierowska-Prüffer also released publications on ethnographic museology. Having headed the Toruń institution for 13 years, she left the Museum boasting the collection of 15,000 exhibits and an ample Folklore Archive. In 1958-1963, she headed UMK’s Chair of Ethnography, however giving museology lectures until 1988. She participated in numerous ethnology and museology conferences around Europe. An active member of the Polish Folklore Association, she held various positions in its structures until 1978, when she became its honorary member. Retired, she continued her in-field research, and worked on her last publication meant to recapitulate all her research into fishery (1988). She died in Toruń in 1990, and was buried there. The Toruń Ethnographic Museum has been named after her since 1990.
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