Dom organisty w Wielkopolskim Parku Etnograficznym
House of an Organist in the Wielkopolska Ethnographic Park in Dziekanowice
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The new permanent exhibition in the Wielkopolska Ethnographic Park of the House of an Organist was open to the public in May 2011. It regards the way of life and the keeping of the household of a village organist and his family. The exposition continues the process of composing the cult complex within the museum, which began in 1996 with the church translocation. The display was arranged in the oldest object reconstructed in the museum, a single-room house dated back to 1602 from Zdrój village near Grodzisk Wielkopolski. While organizing the show, the rule of presenting an interior used by a typical organist’s family living in the countrywide society in the 1930’s was accepted. Such an assumption was caused by the possibility of getting immediate information about the setting up of the house, the characteristic features of an organist’s and his family’s work and life, as well as by the accessibility of material artefacts. Information collected during the interviews, direct observations and archive queries enabled to recreate quite a real view of an organist’s life. It does not present the history of a particular person within the family, but offers a general notion on managing and using the house by people functioning in a similar social context, taking up a hired job on the same conditions, in a given time. A typical organist is a „nomadic” person, hired on pretty defined terms in the form of a written contract fixed by the parish priest, church supervision or parish council. According to the guidelines of the exhibition, an organist used to work around 20 years in one place, and received a monthly salary plus perks. Moreover, he could rent a house free of charge and receive income from growing a garden adjacent to the house as well as from cultivating a two-hectare field. The above was available on specific conditions. An organist was obliged to play an organ during the mass, maintain order inside and outside the church, take proper care of church clothes, put on the light in the church, and prepare and deliver wafers. Additionally, he prepared a bill of confessions and conducted the church choir. The conditions determined in the organist’s contract were not always sufficient for the maintenance of the organist and his numerous family. Hence, many organists looked for an extra occupation such as: a shoemaker’s, a bookbinder’s or a gravedigger’s. The economic situation of organists is most clearly reflected in the furnishing of their houses. The differences to the typical equipment of an interior used at any specific moment by a poor family are insignificant. The museum display depicts such a situation like this. A single-room house is being occupied by an organist with a four-person family, owning small garden adjoining the house, growing crops in a two-hectare field and breeding tiny livestock. The organist’s sons sleep in the livestock chamber. The simple furniture and basic equipment do not come from the organists’ families, as it was not possible to gain such specific artefacts. Various organists, however, once owned individual items defining the interior as the organist’s one, including: a harmonium, church songbooks, and photographs of the church choir members with an organist. These are supplemented by a cross from the home altar, a cross on the lintel, or lithography depicting the Mother of God. The exposition inside an organist’s house makes up the first show in our Museum dealing with issues connected with self-employed professionals functioning within the village culture, but at the same time included among the village poor. On the one hand, the exhibition reveals an image of an organist’s living standards imprinted in the social consciousness, whilst on the other, it indicates his extraordinary position in the community.
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