The Mystery of Light. Medieval Art in Pomerania

The Mystery of Light. Medieval Art in Pomerania. A new permanent exhibition in The National Museum in Szczecin at Wały Chrobrego. Curator: Kinga Krasnodębska. Avaliable since September 23rd, 2021

"The Mystery of Light" is a new permanent exhibition of the National Museum in Szczecin, showcasing medieval art from the historic region of Pomerania, starting in the 1120s, with the formal end of the Christianisation, up until the next religious upheaval, connected with the adoption of the Reformation in 1534.

The majority of the pieces and artefacts presented at the exhibition were collected in Pomeranian churches, and back in the day they used to be connected with worship and religious rites, reflecting the ideas of medieval Christian thought, fulfilling the religious and social needs of believers and founders. The creators of these works, whose names were lost to history, worked in workshops and studios, wandering across Europe to disseminate new artistic trends or settled in cities and established craft guilds, which was more typical of the late Middle Ages.

By entering the exhibition, one enters a somewhat dark, distant era, yet somewhat illuminated by a metaphysical glow. The age of mystery and fantastic imagination, the world of medieval Christianity. Some of the most prominent pieces presented at the exhibition include the Gotland columns from the Cistercian monastery in Kołbacz, with the depiction of the monks during their everyday chores, and the famous devil pulling the hood of one of the monks. A lion-head-shaped bronze door handle from Kołobrzeg and the hoard of luxurious accessories uncovered in Szczecin reflect the wealth of medieval centres operating within the Hanseatic League – a powerful union of northern European cities.

A gallery of sculpted and painted representations of saints, extraordinary heroes of the medieval world, depicts a form of religious worship particularly characteristic of medieval culture – the cult of saints and relics associated with them. Among them, some of the easiest to notice are St Dorothy in a beautiful gown, with a basket of paradise flowers, St James – the patron saint of pilgrims – with a scallop shell on a hat, as well as St George wearing a knight’s armour, defeating a dragon.

The main highlight of the exhibition is the impressively large, yet subdued Kamień Crucifix – the true treasure of the collection of medieval art housed by the Szczecin museum. Placed in the centre of the monumental hall, just like it once stood in the heart of the church, it reminds the viewers of the universal nature of salvation through the cross and marks the axis of the medieval Christian world. A series of paintings dedicated to Mary and Christ on the altar wings of the polyptych from the Church of St John in Stargard, which reflect the popularity of intense colours and the brilliance of heavenly gold, serves as a particularly well-selected backdrop for this unique piece.

 

The Mystery of Light. Medieval Art in Pomerania

Curator: Kinga Krasnodębska

Honorary patonage: 
Marshal of the West-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Olgierd Geblewicz
Prime Minister of the German State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Manuela Schwesig

 

The exhibition was created as part of the “Common Heritage, Common Future. Central Pomeranian Museums Presenting the History and Culture of Pomerania” project co-financed by the European Union from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the Interreg V-A – Germany/Mecklenburg-Vorpommern-Brandenburg-Poland cooperation programme, as well as from the funds of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship.

 

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