Stettin/Szczecin – One History. Art of the 19th and 20th Centuries from the Collection of The National Museum in Szczecin

Are Stettin and Szczecin the same city?

Or maybe the more appropriate question would be whether the history of Stettin and the history of Szczecin are the history of one or two separate cities? Both parts of this question can be answered in the affirmative: yes, it is one city, as the memory of the city's past is less and less dividing the historians of Stettin-Szczecin; and: yes, these are two separate cities between which the same historians are quite willing to identify an obvious point of discontinuity. And this applies not to researchers of Stettin-Szczecin history as much as to those who deal with its art. If you look at the review of the collection of The National Museum in Szczecin presented here with the eye of not an expert, but an art lover, it is easy to point out these discontinuities - these gaps, empty places and provoking uncomfortable questions. For example, if we agree, recognize and celebrate freely today that the city used to be a German one, why are there so few German buildings here?

Although they are not comfortable, such questions are rather not worth being left in silence, avoided or - even less! - shouted down. It is better to ask them loudly, because maybe they are the essence of the collection, they focus attention on the cracks through which the full history of the museum and of the city can be seen - not easy, complex, full of gaps and related experiences of both artists and people who contributed to the history of the institution, as well as other residents. This caused that the essence of the exhibition has been the desire to capture what is often invisible, because it does not show a coherent version of the great narrative about the city. Therefore, we decided to introduce the story of both German and Polish city and museum, as well as related art. One should look at the collection bearing in mind the intricacies of the city's history. So the main goal of the exhibition's creators was the need to create a story about one Stettin / Szczecin - the pre- and post-war one, one that combines the Polish and German history of the city into one whole, yet composed of countless experiences. A selection of German and Polish works from the 19th and 20th centuries was used for its implementation. It is a fair representation of the Szczecin collection, as it covers those circumstances that best reflect the key meanders of the city's, and thus the museum's, history. The exhibition is an image of a way leading to a consent to think about Szczecin as a Polish city with a German past (and present).

Curator: Beata Małgorzata Wolska
Co-Organizer: Bornholms Kunstmuseum
Partner: Dansk Kulturinstitut / Danish Cultural Institute / Dänisches Kulturinstitut
Support: Ministry of Culture / Kulturministerium 15. Juni Fonden
Exhibition available between June 4th and November 14th 2021 at The National Museum in Szczecin building at Wały Chrobrego 3. 

Official opening of the exhibition is to be held on June 10th at 6.00 P.M.