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2012 | 1-2 | 9-34

Article title

Aby z dawnego bytu wartości utrwalić i upowszechnić…



Title variants

To preserve and disseminate values from the former existence…

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The Centre for Documentation of Monuments (CDM) was created at the end of 1961 and at the beginning of 1962. Currently it functions under the name “National Heritage Board of Poland”. The axis around which the system of protection of historical monuments in the People’s Republic of Poland was built was the register of monuments set up after the regaining of independence in 1918 and continued in the Law on the protection of cultural property and on museums that was passed in 1962. The establishment of CDM is strictly connected with political changes (the “thaw”) that happened after October 1956. The restoration, conservation and organisation of museums was entrusted after the war to the central institution named the General Directorate for Museums and Protection of Monuments, which was headed by Stanisław Lorentz and Prof. Jan Zachwatowicz (General Conservator of Monuments). At the end of the 1950s, museums and protection of monuments were managed centrally by the Ministry of Culture of Art and its subordinated entity – the Administration of Museums and Monument Protection (AMMP) (the counterpart of a department), the head of which was doc. dr Kazimierz Malinowski, an art historian. In years 1958-1960, works were undertaken in AMMP to create a list of monuments of architecture and art on the “green card” form. In 1962, after a new law was passed, the state took over responsibility for the condition of monuments, and the monument was defined as a cultural property entered into the register. The prepared list resulted in the classification of collected materials and the division of monuments into five groups, where the highest classes were subject to protection and the lowest classes were left without care on the state level. K. Malinowski was the originator of the idea to establish a new institution – the Centre for Documentation of Monuments, whose main collection consisted of documentary materials gathered in the Ministry of Culture and, primarily, cards of the list of monuments, which encompassed 35,000 items. Thus, at the beginning CDM became an “external” department of AMMP. The regulations specified the existence of five departments: non-movable monuments, movable monuments, museum exhibits, archives and the library and issuing of AMMP’s publications. This activity began with the Ochrona zabytków quarterly. The department of non-movable monuments dealt with objects of architecture and historic buildings. The idea to prepare a register of movable monuments required the scope of such a project to be determined. The museology department prepared the Muzealnictwo annual. Within 10 years of its existence, CDM gained the status of a central institution collecting documentation concerning the protection of monuments and museology and became an unofficial publishing house. Issued in one volume in 1964, the list of monuments of architecture was published in 17 journals in division into voivodeships existing at that time. In the 1970s, monument protection was becoming an instrument of „historical policy” again. The title of the General Conservator of Monuments was restored. The criteria of “selection of monuments” applied in the list, which completely ignored objects from the 2nd half of the 19th century and the 20th century, traditional wooden buildings – characteristic elements of the cultural landscape of Poland, monuments of industry and technology, historic cemeteries and archaeological sites were questioned during the discussion published in Ochrona zabytków. In 1975 the function of Director of CDM was taken over by Prof. Wojciech Kalinowski, an architect and a town planner, who prepared a new conception of the institution and undertaken the idea of preparation of a full list and record of monuments. From 1975 new models of records and instructions for their implementation began to be developed, resulting in the preparation of the “white card” of monuments of architecture, the address list and the three-level system supplemented with a historical study. The preparation of the register of historic parks, gardens and cemeteries was started, too. The last link of the system became the register of archaeological sites (KESA card). New forms and instructions were published in 1981. Glossaries necessary for the proper description of monuments were being prepared for all specialistic fields. It was also at that time that Spotkania z zabytkami – the first and only magazine about popular science in the Eastern Bloc countries – began to be released. The emphasising of the importance of the monument in the context of cultural landscape became more intense in the 1980s. These discussions made it possible to prepare amendments to the 1962 Law. At the time of political transformations in 1989, the State Monument Protection Service managed by the General Conservator of Monuments was established. On the voivodeship level, SMPSs were formed by offices of voivodeship conservators of monuments. One of the authorities exercising the protection of cultural property was the Director of CDM, who performed the following tasks: support of SMPSs, keeping of the central record of monuments and co-ordination of SMPS units in this respect, development of the rules of documentation of monuments, preparation of the substantive basis for the conservator’s policy of protection of the cultural environment. In the amendment to the law, the care of monuments was entrusted to their users. In 1990 CDM gained a new statute and new role: it was transformed from the institution keeping the register of monuments into the institution supporting the office of the General Conservator of Monuments on the one hand and voivodeship conservators of monuments in historical regions of the country on the other hand. This purpose was to be served by regional centres – divisions of CDM forming interdisciplinary teams of specialists. At the beginning of the 1990s, the Centre and its divisions were computerised. As a result of changes introduced in 1990, the Centre became a content base of state administration in the field of heritage protection (at the time of its establishment, i.e. in 1962, CDM employed 6 persons, and by 1991 this number rose to 160, including 100 persons in 12 regional divisions). However, the new law on the protection and care of monuments adopted in 2003 changed the cultural heritage protection system once again. In 2002, CDM was merged with the Centre for the Protection of Historic Landscape, which had dealt with the subject area of cultural landscape until then, and its name was changed to the National Centre for Research and Documentation of Monuments. In 2011, the National Heritage Board of Poland was established.






Physical description




  • ukończył studia z zakresu archeologii i dziennikarstwa na Uniwersytecie Warszawskim. Pracował jako inspektor w Zarządzie Muzeów i Ochrony Zabytków, adiunkt w Instytucie Historii Kultury Materialnej PAN, kierownik działu Archeologii i dyrektor w ODZ, główny specjalista w Naczelnej Dyrekcji Archiwów Państwowych, był doradcą wiceministra w MKiDN (1999- -2001), dyrektorem departamentu archeologii w Urzędzie Generalnego Konserwatora Zabytków (do jego likwidacji w 2002 r.). Pracował także w Zamku Królewskim w Warszawie (w realizacji Programu Trakt Królewski). Autor 450 publikacji poświęconych muzealnictwu, ochronie zabytków i archeologii. Przez 25 lat redaktor kwartalnika „Z otchłani wieków” i „Informatora Archeologicznego”, redaktor „Wiadomości Konserwatorskich” SKZ i „Biuletynu Informacyjnego PKN ICOMOS”. Sekretarz Generalny Stowarzyszenia Konserwatorów Zabytków (1982-1991), wiceprezes Polskiego Komitetu Narodowego ICOMOS (od 2009 r.)


Document Type

Publication order reference



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