WAWEL CASTLE RESTORED TO THE NATION. THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE RETURN OF WAWEL CASTLE TO POLAND (Wawel - narodowi przywrócony, obchody 100-lecia powrotu Wawelu do Polski)
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The year 2005 marked the hundredth anniversary of the recovery of Wawel Castle from Austrian hands: an act returning the Castle and the Senators Tower was signed on 7 August 1905. Restoration was inaugurated almost immediately since in the wake of the second Austrian occupation (from 1846) the Castle did not resemble its former Jagiellonian-era magnificent self. In connection with the anniversary ceremonies, held under the honorary patronage of Aleksander Kwasniewski, President of the Republic of Poland, the Royal Castle on Wawel Hill prepared two large-scale temporary exhibitions: 'Wawel restored to the nation' and 'The Crown of Poland. Wawel motifs in Polish art 1800-1939'; it also issued a number of publications presenting the Wawel collections: '100 najpiekniejszych obrazów z kolekcji Zamku Królewskiego na Wawelu' (100 Most Beautiful Paintings from the Collections at the Royal Castle on Wawel Hill) and 'Renesansowe glowy wawelskie' (Renaissance Wawel Heads) as well as a book summing up the hundredth anniversary of conservation on Wawel Hill: 'Zamek Królewski na Wawelu. Sto lat odnowy 1905-1939' (The Royal Castle on Wawel Hill. A Hundred Years of Renewal 1905-1939). The 'Wawel restored to the nation' exhibition (March-June 2005), featured in the western wing of the Castle, was presented in six parts: 'The royal residence (eighteenth century) and the Austrian citadel (nineteenth century)', 'The recovery of the Castle', 'The beginning of renewal (1905-1914) under the supervision of Zygmunt Hendel', 'Wawel revived in artists' visions', 'The Castle prepared for fulfilling its functions' and 'The Royal Castle on Wawel Hill and its surrounding in old photographs'. The shows depicted the grandeur of Wawel Castle as a royal seat, its fall after the Hill and Castle were adapted for the purposes of Austrian army barracks and transformed into a citadel, the successful Polish campaign to recover the Castle, as well as the enormous efforts made by the whole nation to resurrect Wawel Castle and reinstate its former splendour after more than a hundred years of servitude. The exhibition also demonstrated the accomplishments of the first two architects who headed the restoration of the Castle: Zygmunt Hendel (1905-1914) and Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz (1916-1939). Alongside the 300 displayed exhibits - paintings, sculptures, graphic art, historical documents architectural drawings, elements of the original Renaissance masonry and photographs, an additional attractive highlight was a stereoscopic panorama specially restored for this occasion. The second show - 'The Crown of Poland ...' (held in July-October 2005) portrayed the impact exerted by Wawel Castle upon artistic creativity and the role played by this royal residence in Polish art during the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. The exposition amassed more than 200 examples of painting, sculpture, graphic art, and the crafts, which enabled the visitors to appreciate the influence of Wawel Castle upon the oeuvre of numerous Polish artists as well as the place occupied by Wawel Hill, its monuments, and associated legends in the hearts of all Poles.
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