The Polish Mission continues cooperation with Polish Ministry of Culture

1On Monday, November 17, it was our privilege to host Mr. Michał Michalski.  He leads a division of the Polish Ministry of Culture (Ministerstwo Kultury I Dziedzictwa Narodowego – MKIDN) that specializes in Polish heritage abroad, and is responsible for a wide variety of cultural projects that mean the most to the legacy of the Polish diaspora around the world.  On a routine basis, he travels from country to country, meeting with the Polish community in each one, from Tajikistan to the Trans-Dniester, from Switzerland to the U.S., and everywhere in between.  Since The Polish Mission as awarded with the prestigious golden Gloria Artis this year, we’ve experienced an increased degree of dialogue with key individuals and institutions from Poland, and Michalski needed to become personally familiar with the Polish energy in Orchard Lake, as we together plan future programming.

Our association with the Ministry of Culture is no new happening, however.  One of the very first big initiatives started by Director Chumiecki was to reach out to them shortly after his appointment at The Polish Mission in 2008.  Within less than a year, Ms. Karina Chabowska, Senior expert from the Division of Wartime Losses visited the Orchard Lake campus at Chumiecki’s invitation, to survey the then-unknown collections of The Polish Mission.  It was around that time that we were first introduced to Mr. Jacek Miler, MKIDN Senior Advisor.  Those early days witnessed the start of a long and warm association with not only MKIDN, but also with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerstwo Spraw Zagranicznych) that have both served to launch The Polish Mission into the stratosphere.MKiDN_logoeng

Thanks to Chumiecki’s original idea to present the holdings of The Polish Mission to key experts at the Ministry of Culture, the formative years of the modern-day Polish Mission have been marked with an unprecedented degree of financial support and cooperation with Polish institutions, all of which has been thanks to the support of this Ministry, dedicated to the preservation of Polish Heritage.  It was thanks to them to that our partnership with the Wyczolkowski District Museum in Bydgoszcz was first established.  Detroit’s Polonia still fondly remembers when Curator Inga Kopciewicz visited the Orchard Lake Campus for three summers in a row to meticulously catalog the entire art collection at the Galeria.  Up until that point, our treasury of art was little more than a valuable mystery—thanks to her work, we along with countless museum and academic institutions abroad now have a detailed record of the fine collection that will soon have a newly renovated home at the Galeria.

Furthermore, it was thanks to the Ministry of Culture that our cooperation with the National Archives of Poland had been launched.  Today, our projects with the National Archives are healthy, productive, and growing, but it’s taken due time and negotiation to reach that point.  With the support of our numerous associates at the Ministry of Culture, cooperation with the National Archives was initiated, and today, our stunning collection of documents is steadily getting more and more organized and cataloged, thanks to the work of archivists Mr. Tomasz Szpil, and Mr. Paweł Pietrzyk.  Over the last few years, the work of Szpil and Pietrzyk on our campus work has produced 109 liner feet of fully organized archives.  Several sub-collections include the Polish Army AK veterans association – U.S. Headquarters, the Polish Military Mission in Canada, Professor Arthur L. Waldo, and General Stanislaw Feliks Kwasniewski.  Please take a few moments to explore our archives by visiting www.polishmission.com/archives/central-archives-of-polonia/, were you can then be directed to the National Archives website where our collections are digitally stored.

In September, over 100 documents were sent to the Printing and Literature Museum in Grębocin (Muzeum Piśmiennictwa i Drukarstwa), where again thanks to MKIDN, director of the museum Prof. Dariusz Subocz and his staff will perform detailed conservation of our founding documents, among others.  This cooperative project, funded entirely by MKIDN, came as a result of an appeal by Director Chumiecki, which identified many documents and objects in the PM collection that were rightfully defined as treasures of Polonia in great need of conservation.

4Michalski, ever on a tight schedule, stayed at the Polish Mission for only a few days, but lack of time was no obstacle for Marcin, JJ, Ceil, Hal, and Allison—every member of the Polish Mission team spent quality time with our guest to ensure a thorough survey of our operations.  Michalski visited the Galeria, the PARI genealogy institute, and toured key parts of the collections while on campus.  At PARI, Ceil Wendt-Jensen presented a new research website initiative based at miplheritage.org, which allows genealogy researchers access to newly-opened online resources, made available by PARI staff and volunteers.  Director Chumiecki followed by offering Michalski and in-depth update on the project of creating a new Galeria.  A portion of this project is supported by the Edward and Josephine Wikiera Foundation, allowing The Polish Mission to execute North America’s only successful large scale Polish cultural building project in decades.

His visit, orchestrated as a follow-up to the Gloria Artis award dinner, signaled the beginning of several new projects that will materialize in the near future at Orchard Lake.  One of these is a professional numismatic evaluation of our collection.  Following the unprecedented and huge donation by an anonymous donor, The Polish Mission now holds one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of ancient and Polish coins, dating from the first Polish settlements to the Iron Curtain.  We’re grateful for this new initiative, which allows us to honor our anonymous donor by providing the proper care for what has become one of our most prestigious collections.

Another future project is a potential conservation laboratory and workshop, set to be established at The Polish Mission to provide museum-grade services for patrons, museums, and government entities alike.  During his visit, Michalski also visited with Bob Wittmann, who in a great feat of righteousness, worked tirelessly to return a painting looted during WWII, to the National Museum of Poland.  Wittmann earned national acclaim for this dedication, and he along with Michalski and the Polish Mission team found time to share lunch together, while discussing the amazing amount of artwork that has yet to be returned to Poland.

If you know of any such works of art, please contact The Polish Mission at (248) 738-6720 to learn more about how you too can be recognized as a true hero of Polish heritage by returning it to its home country and culture.

Please show your support for the work on the Ministry of Culture by learning more about their mission for the preservation of national heritage by clicking here, and join the Polish Mission team in thanking Mr. Michalski for a wonderful visit.  As we all welcome a new governmental administration, we’d like to thank all of our associates at the Ministry for your generous support, and we remain as ever, ready for more successes in the future.