25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DIOCESAN MUSEUM IN OPOLE
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Across the ages the Church has been concerned with the cultural heritage of its members. The mid-eighteenth century witnessed discernible interest in religious objects excluded from the cult and emphasis was placed on the evangelization role of church museums, which, interested in the fate of useless artworks removed from church interiors, collected, stored, and conserved them as well as rendered them available to society. The anniversary of the Diocesan Museum in Opole be-came an excellent occasion for taking a closer look at its history and assess the part it played in the course of the past quarter of a century. The idea of establishing such a museum dates back to 1978 – the year when Alfons Nossol became the bishop of Opole. In 1984 the author of this article was appointed director and diocesan curator, and the museum was opened to the public on 21 November 1987. The unique design of the new building was realized thanks to the involvement of the local Catholic community. In this way, there emerged the first post-war Polish museum aimed at salvaging valuable monuments of sacral art in a diocese whose terrain contains a great number of such a monuments; in many cases, their roots go back to the onset of Christianity in Silesia. The cultural accomplishments of Opole Silesia were thus secured and presented to the wide public. The specificity of the collections and expositions distinguish this particular institution – some of the exhibits, e.g. liturgical vessels, are restored for some time to their original parishes during Church holidays, and then, upon their return to the Museum, continue to act as the testimony and object of faith. The Museum organizes concerts, theatre spectacles, and exhibitions of contemporary sacral art, which become occasions for meetings of artists, actors, journalists, historians of art and architects, and thus for creating a tradition linking the Church and those milieus. The gathered exhibits are evidence of the culture and faith of generations living in Opole Silesia and a source of pride for the inhabitants of Opole and the land of Opole, a region with rich Christian culture, where from the Middle Ages assorted artistic trends crossed. Upon the occasion of the anniversary of the Diocesan Museum a pontifical Holy Mass was celebrated in the nearby cathedral, an exhibition of graphic works: “From the heritage of faith – historical religious graphic art” was inaugurated, and the evening was enhanced by a concert: “Total pulchra est Maria”,dedicated to the Mother of God, featured in the Museum logo. A session of the Council for Culture and Protection of the Cultural Heritage at the Polish Episcopate discussed phenomena connected with Church museums in Poland.
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