MIECZYSŁAW TRETER (1883–1943): PRECURSOR OF POLISH MUSEOLOGY
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Mieczysław Treter is by no means an ordinary individual: an art historian, aesthetician, museum practitioner and theoretician-museologist, an individual of many professions, lecturer, journal editor, member of numerous organizations, propagator of Polish art abroad, manager, exhibition organizer. In the interwar period one of the most influential critics and art theoreticians, among the museum circles he was mainly known as the author of the recently reissued 1917 publication called Contemporary Museums. Museological Study. Beginnings, Types, Essence, and Organization of Museums. Public Museum Collections in Poland and Their Future Development. Born on 2 August 1883 in Lvov, in 1904 Mieczysław Henryk Treter started working with the Prince Lubomirski Museum as the scholarship holder of the Lvov Ossolineum. In 1910, he became Curator at the Museum, performing this function until the outbreak of WW I. He participated in the First Congress of Polish Museologists, held in Cracow on 4 and 5 April 1914. During WW I, he was in Kharkov and Crimea, and it was there that he wrote his most important study Contemporary Museums. In 1917, having moved to Kiev he became involved in the activity of the social movement for the care of Polish monuments throughout the former Russian Empire. In 1918, he returned to Lvov, became member of the national Eastern Galicia Conservation Circle, and retook the position of the Curator at the Prince Lubomirski Museum, to finally become its Director. On 4 February 1922, Mieczysław Treter was appointed Director of the State Art Collections, the position he retained until 1924. In 1926, he became Director of the Society for the Promotion of Polish Art Abroad, whose main task was to promote works of Polish artists in Poland and abroad. He passed away in Warsaw on 25 October 1943. Systematizing the theoretical knowledge and the report on the existing museums in the country deprived of its statehood in the book Contemporary Museums created a departure point for its Author, who following Poland’s regaining independence worked out the organization of state collections. Treter’s proposals were to regulate the position of Polish museum institutions complicated due to the partition period, for them, while rivaling foreign museums, to become elements boosting the young state’s prestige.
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