Temporary Exhibition: 1989. A Dialogue Attempt

From 31/05/2019 15:00 until 30/08/2019

The 30th anniversary of the political upheaval in Poland in June 1989 was the pretext for creating the exhibition. A turbulent year, called "annus mirabilis" (a year of miracles) by Norman Davies, in Poland was marked primarily by two events: the meeting of the authorities and the opposition at the Round Table and the election on June 4th. It was at that time that the Poles strongly opted for the victory of the ideals of "Solidarity" and a change in the political system.

These events in Poland were preceded by difficult years of the socio-economic crisis, by the wave of strikes in spring and summer of 1988, and, above all, by the authority's growing awareness of the failure of the system and the threat of economic collapse. The situation in the Soviet Union and the declarations of the USSR leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, that the countries of the Eastern Bloc can decide their own destiny, were important for the change.

The concept of the Round Table significantly divided the opposition: some of its members, accepting the leadership of Lech Wałęsa, said that this might be a good idea to get out of the impasse, the more radical part – which no one invited to the discussions – was saying that it made no sense to negotiate with the communist authority. These divisions were visible during the sessions, during elections and then during the entire process of the formation of the Third Polish Republic.

The events in Poland have become an impulse for change in all countries remaining under the influence of the Kremlin since the end of World War II. An avalanche, which wiped out the communist system, the "Iron Curtain" and the post-Yalta order – went down to history as the Autumn of Nations.

Szczecin and West Pomerania were very active in all episodes connected with the disassembly of the communist system. It was here that the strikes in 1988 took place, which broke out in very few centers. The first Obywatelski Komitet Porozumiewawczy (Citizens' Coordinating Committee) in Poland was created here as well, which took charge of preparing the Solidarity electoral campaign. Here too, the divisions of the opposition were visible in a large extent and deepened with the passing of the following months. That is why many nationwide events of 1989 will be shown at the exhibition through the prism of what has happened in Szczecin and West Pomerania. The characters of those days will be presented, as well as photographs and documents.

We will also present the assessment of the events from 30 years ago, which still evoke extreme emotions, not always understood abroad. The exhibition is only an introduction to the discussion about the essence of the upheaval. What for some has become a turning point in life, for others was only a game of political forces.

The exhibition will be accompanied by history lessons in the space of the NMS-DCU permanent exhibition and in Solidarity Square at a symbolic round table; by meetings with people of upheavals; by debates involving witnesses of history, politicians and youth from secondary schools; by presentation of posters made by youth and by sport events.


Curator: Agnieszka Kuchcińska-Kurcz
Review: Prof. Antoni Dudek
Curatorial cooperation: Aneta Popławska-Suś, Paula Sendra

Organizer: The National Museum in Szczecin, Western and Northern Territories Network