2002 | 1 | 4-13
Article title

Na czterdziestolecie Ośrodka Dokumentacji Zabytków

Title variants
Languages of publication
The art o f conservation is activity. The history o f art is cognition. Jan Białostock The author of this motto, an outstanding historian of art, wrote: “Activity should strive towards the attainment o f targets, the transformation o f the existing state o f things, and the realisation o f a state o f things recognised as more valuable” (my emphasis — K. G.). At the time, his article produced a lively discussion among conservators. After all, conservation also denotes cognition, since in the course of widely comprehended conservation undertakings we expand our knowledge about the examined subject regardless whether the researcher is a historian of art, a historian of architecture, a conservator or an archeologist. Indubitably, Jan Białostocki was correct in maintaining that the art of conservation is an activity, one of whose symptoms is the documentation of historical monuments. The ruling which established the Centre for the Documentation of Historical Monuments (ODZ) begins with the declaration: “In order to render the inventories o f historical monuments more efficient for a rational plan o f their reconstruction and conservation, the following is ordained: §1. The ‘Centre for the Documentation o f Historical Documents’, known as the Centre, has been established on 1 January 1962. §2. The tasks o f the Centre include conducting a central register and auxiliary documentation for mobile and immobile monuments”1. Today, the word “reconstruction” may give rise to certain reservations, but at the time traces of war-time devastation were still fresh. The tasks succinctly defined in the ruling issued by the M inister were enormous. Both their realisation and the accomplishments of the Centre have been already presented in “Ochrona Zabytków” upon the occasion of two jubilees: the tenth and twenty fifth anniversary3. In the course of forty years, those tasks underwent certain transformations, predominantly involving their considerable expansion. The image of the activity p u rsued by the Centre is composed basically of the achievements of its departments, whose work is discussed in more detail in further articles. The text presented below plays the role of a sui generis introduction. * * The term “documentation” in the name of our institution signifies, according to Słownik Języka Polskiego (Dictionary of the Polish Language), “a collection o f documents justifying something, source material, evidence”. Further on we read: “scientific documentation: the collection, preparation and dissemination o f selected information (...) for the purpose o f practical application”4. What is the purpose of a documentation collection, namely hundreds of thousands of index cards gathered in the past and still amassed by the Centre? Whom does the archive as well as the hundreds of professional publications issued by the Centre and its specialist library serve? The Centre acts as a fundamental base for the Minister of Culture — the General Conservator of Historical M onuments and voivodeship conservators, especially after the reorganisation of the services in 1991 and the ensuing liquidation of voivodeship Bureaus for the Documentation of Historical Monuments. The documentation created and coordinated by the Centre comprises a foundation for identifying national cultural legacy. This is the material which assists every conservator in formulating his own opinion while deciding to include a certain object into the register (or to delete it). This is also the material which serves a historian embarking on research into gentry m anor houses or old organs in Polish churches. The authors of Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce (Catalogue o f Art Monuments in Poland), issued by the Polish Academy of Sciences, start their work on each consecutive volume with becoming acquainted with our files. Just as the cultural landscape is not an enclosed reservation, documentation is by no means a closed archival complex but remains supplemented and brought up to date. Conservation methods have changed in the course of several past decades as has the approach to numerous groups of historical monuments; hence the transformation and expansion of the Centre’s tasks. The core of the Centre is composed of three prime research departments: Architecture and Town Planning, Art and Crafts (formerly — Mobile Historical Monuments) and Archaeology. Without them our present-day knowledge about cultural legacy in Poland simply could not exist. Their presentation speaks for itself. The Centre contains also several other essential departments which deserve to be briefly mentioned. The Department of Museum Studies gathers, prepares and renders available knowledge about Polish museums. Museum registers, information about collections, as well as scientific, exhibition and publication activity are systematically brought up to date and published in the form of a synthetic guide to Polish museums. The Department also issues the periodical “Muzealnictwo”, which presents data and historical and research material associated with museums. The Department of Archival Material and Scientific Collections possesses sets of assorted origin, i. a. the legacies of various researchers, such as the Łopaciński Folios, the Glinka Folios, and the Ciołek Folios, with material pertaining to the historical and conservation aspect of numerous monuments. The Photographic Collection, which is part of the Department, constitutes a unique resource of negatives and positive copies, many of which refer to non-extant monuments. Co-operation with the Department of Publications initiated the publication of source material found in museums, libraries and archives, indispensable for research conducted by historians of art and conservators — archival catalogues of architectural drawings, plans and measurements (mainly eighteenth- and nineteenth- century) or projects by architects celebrated in the past and esteemed up to this day. Researchers attach great importance to those volumes, without which their work would be greatly hampered. At the time of their publication during the 1970s and 1980s, the scientific and editorial assets of the catalogues placed them at a level equal to that of analogous West European works. Already at that time, we were on par with the leading representatives of Europe. The ministerial ruling which established the Centre included an entry about specialist publications. For forty years, the Department of Publications systematically issues several periodicals and series. The scale of this undertaking is illustrated by the three volumes of a bibliography entitled: Wydawnictwa Ośrodka Dokumentacji Zabytków w Warszawie (Publications o f the Centre for the Documentation o f Historical Monuments in Warsaw) — (for the years 1962-1965, 19661984 and 1984-1994) containing more than 6 400 bibliographical items! Not only the number of the publications is impressive. The overall accomplishments of the Department include several series and up to twenty books simply indispensable for the workshop of the historian of art and the conservator. More than a hundred volumes of the renowned Library of Museum Studies and the Protection of Historical Monuments (BMiOZ) appeared in series A, В and C, embracing diverse topics — from a compendium of legal regulations concerning the protection of cultural legacy and material from conservation conferences, to a series of terminological dictionaries, for example, on goldsmithery, fabrics and defensive architecture, or “Informator Archeologiczny”. The output includes also publications about the technological aspects of the conservation of monuments of painting, stone, metal, leather, paper and fabrics — a venture unique not only on a domestic scale. At present, the Library, which accompanies the Centre from its very beginning, i. e. from 1962, is composed of more than 60 000 volumes of books and periodicals. In time, the profile of the collections, originally more valuable for an historian of art and a researcher interested in museum studies, evolved to wards specialisation. Today, the Centre is the only Polish institution with a book collection on the inventories and documentation of historical monuments as well as a wide gamut of conservation problems, both theoretical and practical. Acquisitions and international exchange enabled the Library, which constantly co -o p erates with 80 Polish and foreign institutions, to possess many foreign specialist periodicals. Auction purchases make it possible to supplement the collections with valuable historical publications required for conservation work and studies. A database of the book collection is being created in Mikro CDS ISIS since 1993, and includes a particularly valuable base of articles from about sixty Polish periodicals. The conservation activity pursued by the Centre encompasses the organisation of various conferences and courses intent on training workers of Conservation Offices and Bureaus for the Documentation of Historical Monuments about the proper execution and conducting of registers. Other tasks include numerous conservation opinions prepared by the Team of Experts on Architecture, Town Planning and the Cultural Landscape (part of ODZ since 1993) for the General Conservator of Historical Monuments and voivodeship conservators. A separate chapter in the history of the Centre was the establishment in 1991-1992 of twelve regional departments — Regional Centres for Studies and the Protection of the Cultural Environment — in accordance with a new ODZ statute confirmed by the Ministry of Culture and Art in 1990. Their creation was one of the prime elements of the reorganisation of conservation services conducted at the time. The foundation of those branches, located in the historical regions of the country, preceded the administrative division of Poland, carried out in 1998; today, they exist in almost all voivodeships. The appearance of the Regional Centres was envisaged as a sui generis compensation for the liquidation of the Bureaus for the Documentation of Historical Monuments; at the same time, the Centres were entrusted with much more ambitious tasks. The examination of the cultural environment was to be conducted on a higher level and render knowledge more systematic; with time, it was to generate a complete synthesis of knowledge about the Polish cultural landscape. Regional Centres co-operate with conservation offices and the local government or self-government administration, i. a. while preparing conservation directives and opinions as well as studies concerning cultural heritage, thus filling the gap which emerged after the closure of the Bureaus for the Documentation of Historical Monuments and the dissolution of numerous outposts of the State Enterprise Ateliers for the Conservation of Historical Monuments (PP PKZ). The Centres inherited copious and valuable archives of the documentation, studies and research conducted by the Enterprise, which, for all practical purposes, ceased existing at the beginning of the 1990s; today, they are the lawful guardians of the collections. The activity of the Centre for the Documentation of Historical Monuments would be impossible without close co-operation with voivodeship conservators of historical monuments, best acquainted with current requirements and engaged in adapting the programme of the documentation of cultural legacy to local conditions. For years, the Centre assisted (and should continue doing so!) in co-creating and coordinating research and documentation programmes which, to a considerable degree, it also finances. These efforts made it possible to produce well-prepared registers of, for example, historical rural architecture or musical instruments, and furthered the progress achieved by the Archeological Photograph of Poland. The Centre also helped to train the personnel of voivodeship Bureaus for the Documentation of Historical Monuments — today non-existent — for the preparation of frequently challenging documentation. For this purpose, the Centre organised scientific conferences and training courses as well as excursions intended for students and employees of conservation services. It is worth remembering that the State Service for the Protection of Historical Monuments, created in 1991, was staffed by the employees of the dissolved Bureaus, who today comprise the basic core of conservation services. The preparation and realisation of various tasks could not have been accomplished w ithout the collaboration of scholars and academic environments. The Centre initiated and organised numerous interdisciplinary scientific sessions devoted to research methods, and in particular to conservation requirements. Such co-operation involved also PP PKZ. The outcome of those sessions included, as a rule, publications issued in the above mentioned Library of Museum Studies and the Protection of Historical Monuments. For the past four decades ODZ experienced considerable transformations. It began as the employer of eight staff members working in the Primate’s Palace in Senatorska Street. In 1970, a house in 35 Brzozowa Street was specially reconstructed for its purposes; today, it remains a symbol of our institution, strongly enrooted in the consciousness of Polish conservators. Rapidly growing documentation tasks and the increased efforts of the Centre were the reason why already at the end of the 1970s the existing offices proved to be cramped. At the end of the 1980s they were used by almost thirty persons, and the conditions in which the latter were compelled to work appear to be inconceivable. For many years, Director Prof. Wojciech Kalinowski endeavoured to obtain more spacious facilities. A solution of sorts was the adaptation in 1979 of a devastated railway station of the Warsaw-Vienna line in Grodzisk Mazowiecki. The building, which already during the nineteenth century no longer fulfilled its original function, was to act as a storehouse for the more rarely used collections, a suggestion which appeared to be controversial considering the work p e rformed by the institution. The repair of the railway station proved to be extremely time-consuming. In February 1991, Marek Konopka, the new Director of ODZ, finally transferred the majority of the Departments to a new seat in 6 Ujazdowskie Avenue, thanks to the support of Izabella Cywińska, the Minister of Culture and Art, and Tadeusz Zielniewicz, the General Conservator of Historical Monuments. The Departments of Museum Studies and Publications remained in Mazowiecka Street. Subsequently, the repaired railway station in Grodzisk Mazowiecki became a refuge for the enormous archive of several Warsaw departments of PP PKZ, frequently used by researchers from the whole country. The rank of the Centre stems from tasks extremely aptly defined at its very outset; their realisation, however, is entrusted to consecutive directors. The creator of the institution was Professor Dr. Kazimierz Malinowski (ODZ Director in 1962-1966), the then Director of the Board of Museums and the Protection of Historical Monuments in the Ministry of Culture and Art and the co-author of the statute about the protection of cultural property (1962). Prof. Malinowski, whose person has been undeservedly forgotten by Polish conservators, outlined the structure and tasks of Centre, and the framework constructed by him constituted the basis of documentation in Polish conservation. He was also the initiator and organiser of pioneering conferences on the technological aspects of the conservation of art works, and contributed to a rapprochement between three academic conservation centres: Kraków, Warsaw and Toruń. Subsequently, for several years, Prof. Malinowski’s programme was continued by Director Maria Charytańska, who also devised its new version (head of ODZ in 1966-1974). This period witnessed the inauguration of photographic aerial documentation of old towns and the amassment of a collection of monographic studies dealing with Polish cities. Furthermore, the Centre embarked upon a computer version of the collections of the Department of Mobile Historical Monuments. The achievements of Director Charytańska included the reconstruction of the house in Brzozowa Street for the main seat of the institution. Prof. Dr. Wojciech Kalinowski, engineer and architect (ODZ Director in 1975-1989) symbolised further intensive development: the initiation of the fundamental programme of registering architectural monuments, expanded by including buildings from the second half of the nineteenth century and the twentieth century, and the introduction of a new, more extensive index card. The Department of Mobile Monuments initiated specialist documentation of church organs, musical instruments and goldsmithery; at the same time, it continued the pioneering programme of creating a computer database for the index card collection. The Department of Archaeology was established in 1978. In 1990-1995, the post of Director was held by Marek Konopka, followed by Dr. Robert Kunkel, an architect (to the beginning of 2001) and Michał Urbanowski (since 2001). It is simply impossible to mention here all the initiatives and activities of the particular directors. The attainments of the Centre would have been impossible without the co-operation of its employees, who comprise a small but significant group of people co-creating the Centre’s overall image. Throughout the past decades the staff included authorities who remain universally recognised up to this very day. Forty years of the Centre for the Documentation of Historical Monuments have yielded an enormous output, which we shall present in greater detail in a further part of this publication. I started my text by citing Prof. Jan Bialostocki’s view about „activity aiming at the realisation o f a state o f things recognised as more valuable” (ars auro gemmisque prior)-, in our case, such activity denotes the expansion of knowledge about cultural legacy in Poland. I believe that today it would be possible to convince Prof. Białostocki that conservation also denotes cognition, to a considerable degree achieved owing to the documentation of historical monuments. * * * Originally, the publication marking the jubilee of the Centre for the Documentation of Historical Monuments was to be presented in a different form. In the spring of last year, we planned to issue a special commemorative book to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Centre. Nonetheless, the economic situation made it impossible to finance such a publication, and a synthetic history of the four decades of our institution could not appear. This means that an “unofficial” history of the Centre and its workers, brimming with anecdotes and descriptions of the once popular scientific excursions had to be omitted; we were left with a presentation of the accomplishments of particular departments which, as in the case of previous jubilees, shall be discussed in “Ochrona Zabytków”. In the course of the last twelve years, our country has experienced great historical changes which exerted an impact also on the condition of the Centre for the Documentation of Historical Monuments. Political and social events — be they better or worse — almost always directly affect our institution. Today, conservators are witnessing the influx of a generation whose members do not always ascribe the same significance to historical monuments and cultural legacy as we did some ten or twenty five years ago. Paradoxically, liberation from a totalitarian system did not bring about transformations of the protection of cultural legacy as prominent as those for which we longed prior to 1989. This is the reason why it is necessary to recount our achievements, both the ones dating from the difficult years of the past, and those originating from present- day reality. Karol Guttmejer Director of the Team for Regional Studies of Warsaw and Mazowia
Physical description
  • Kierownik Zespołu Badań Regionalnych Warszawy i Mazowsza
  • J. Białostocki, Historia sztuki i konserwatorstwo, (w:) tenże, Historia sztuki wśrod nauk humanistycznych, Wrocław-Warszawa-Krakow-Gdańsk 1980, s. 133.
  • Zarządzenie nr 166 Ministra Kultury i Sztuki z dnia 22 grudnia 1961 r. w sprawie utworzenia Ośrodka Dokumentacji Zabytkow (Dz. Urz. MKiS Nr 1 z 1962 r., poz. 6).
  • M. Charytańska, Z działalności Ośrodka Dokumentacji Zabytkow (weryfikacja zabytkow architektury i ewidencji miast), „Ochrona Zabytkow” (dalej: „OZ”) 1962, nr 2, s. 69-7 0 ;
  • M. Charytańska, P. Maliszewski, Weryfikacja zabytkow, „OZ” 1962, nr 4, s. 3-5;
  • M. Charytańska, Z działalności Ośrodka Dokumentacji Zabytkow, „OZ” 1966, nr 4, s. 3 -7 ;
  • M. Charytańska, Z działalności Ośrodka Dokumentacji Zabytkow w roku 1967, „OZ” 1968, nr 1, s. 4 8 -5 0 ;
  • M. Charytańska, Ośrodek Dokumentacji Zabytkow w 1968 r., „OZ” 1968, nr 1, s. 59-6 1 ;
  • M. Charytańska, Ośrodek Dokumentacji Zabytkow w latach 1969-1970, „OZ” 1971, nr 1, s. 5 7 -6 1 ;
  • M. Charytańska, Pierwsze dziesięciolecie, „OZ” 1971, nr 4. s. 2 2 9 -2 3 3 ;
  • P. Maliszewski, H. Andrulewicz, A. Łotysz, Dział Zabytkow Architektury i Urbanistyki ODZ, tamże, s. 234 -2 4 4 ;
  • B. Bielawski, Dział Zabytkow Ruchomych ODZ, tamże, s. 245-258;
  • B. Pawłowska-Wilde, Dział Muzealnictwa ODZ, tamże, s. 259 -2 6 1 ;
  • B. Lenard, Dział Archiwum ODZ, tamże, s. 2 6 2 -2 6 6 ;
  • M. Gradowski, Wydawnictwa ODZ, tamże, s. 2 6 7 -2 7 1 ;
  • S. Hiż, Biblioteka ODZ, tamże, s. 2 7 2 -2 7 3 ;
  • M. Konopka, Srebrny jubileusz, „OZ” 1987, nr 4, s. 2 3 9 -2 4 2 ;
  • T. Chrzanowski, Na dwudziestopięciolecie Ośrodka Dokumentacji Zabytkow w Warszawie (laurka starego kolaboranta), „OZ ” 1988, nr 4, s. 2 1 1 -2 1 5 ;
  • M. Konopka, Ewidencja zabytk ow — metody i zakres pracy Ośrodka Dokumentacji Zabytkow w Warszawie, tamże, s. 2 1 6 -2 2 3 ;
  • K. Rosińska, Ewidencja zabytkow techniki, tamże, s. 2 2 4 -2 2 7 ;
  • A. Olszewski, Jak powstała „Karta Ewidencyjna Zabytkow Architektury i Budownictwa”, „Kwartalnik Architektury i Urbanistyki” 1998, z. 1-2, s. 7 1 -7 5 .
  • Słownik języka polskiego, pod red. M. Szymczaka, t. I, Warszawa 1978, s. 418.
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.