Dr. Uwe Schröder - Laureate of Pomerania Nostra Award

Dr. Uwe Schroeder, creator and long-time director of The State Museum of Pomerania in Greifswald (Pommersches Landesmuseum Greifswald) was awarded the "Pomerania Nostra" award for his work for Polish-German cooperation.

There could be no better person to win the award, as Dr. Schroeder has been involved in cross-border cooperation for several decades; moreover, the cooperation has been carried out at an unprecedented level in Polish-German relations. In a laudation delivered during the ceremony Dr. Marcin Majewski, Prof. US, gave a deteiled picture of Dr. Schroeder's biography, therefore we can limit to reminding the laureate's of cooperation with The National Museum in Szczecin. In his speech during the award ceremony, talking about cooperation between "central Pomeranian museums", Dr. Schroeder compared them to twins, one of whom is bigger and stronger, but this does not affect their relations. This perfectly captures the essence of cooperation between the two institutions and their directors: Uwe Schroeder and Lech Karwowski.

While in the first period of his office Dr. Schroeder focused on works related to building the museum in Greifswald in the most basic, physical dimension, since 2004 he was involved in a broader cooperation with the equivalent of his institution on the Polish side of Pomerania, that is, The National Museum in Szczecin, co-creating the foundations of systemic cooperation between "both central Pomeranian museums". This definition of the rank and meaning of both museums, formulated by dr. Schroeder in 2008, during the preparation of one of the joint projects, is the best description of his attitude towards the Polish partner, assuming the equivalence of both institutions in joint activities. The symbol of this mutual openness was the initiative undertaken jointly at the beginning of the cooperation, on the day of Poland's accession to the European Union, when both museums opened free of charge also for the inhabitants of the neighboring country. In the following years, the museums implemented a number of joint educational, exhibition and editorial projects, ranging from relatively small and self-supporting ones, to those that were huge, of multi-million value, implemented with the support of the Pomerania Euroregion within the funds of the following three editions of the Interreg program. It was important for them to develop an attitude of trust between both museums, referring to common substantive interests and needs, as well as the common collecting past of both institutions. The State Museum of Pomerania in Greifswald and The National Museum in Szczecin focus on collecting, developing and displaying works of art related to Pomerania, as well as other material evidence of its history and culture. An important part of the collections of both institutions are the collections of pre-war Szczecin museums: the Municipal and the State ones. The city collections, partly evacuated during World War II, exhibited until the late 20th century at The Pomeranian Foundation in Kiel, became one of the foundations of the current museum in Greifswald. Dealing with art and history of one historical area by two museums located in neighboring countries should – as one might think – inevitably lead to their competing, and perhaps even fighting. However, the relations of The National Museum in Szczecin and The State Museum of Pomerania in Greifswald not only managed to avoid this danger, but even turned the unfavorable starting point into a huge asset of both institutions. Instead of competing for objects, exhibitions and media interest, "central Pomeranian museums" took the effort to strenuously build close cooperation, which brought excellent results. Apart from trust, its foundation was the decision to support common ventures in order to maximize the potential of both museums.

The effects of museums' cooperation were manifested, among others, during the exhibition entitled "August Ludwig Most (1807-1883). Pomeranian Artist of the Biedermeier Era”, presented in 2007 in Szczecin and Greifswald. It was prepared in terms of content by The National Museum in Szczecin, supported by a number of other institutions, including primarily the Bundesinstitut für Kultur und Geschichte der Deutschen im östlichen Europa in Oldenburg. The State Museum of Pomerania in Greifswald undertook an extremely delicate mission of negotiating with the owners of the paintings and lending them for the exhibition in Poland and Germany. On account of this, it was possible to propagate the multi-layered work of an extremely interesting Pomeranian artist of the 19th century, who, following Caspar David Friedrich – though in a different convention – consistently portrayed the landscape of Pomerania, and also created an extremely suggestive painting vision of the folklore of the Pyrzyce area. With many other activities – exhibitions, publications or educational programs – "central Pomeranian museums" cooperated less spectacularly but equally effectively, primarily by exchanging their knowledge.

The synergy of the activities of both institutions was most fully manifested in three projects implemented within the Interreg program, starting in 2006. The first of the projects, quite limited yet, concerned mainly fitting of the museums with necessary equipment and infrastructure, likewise other similar projects implemented along the Polish-German border. However, already the second venture – the project entitled "We are stronger together ...", implemented in the years 2010-2013 – fully showed the possibilities that were behind the new model of cross-border cooperation. Its effect was, among others, the establishment of a large permanent exhibition in Greifswald, showing the extremely complicated and difficult history of Pomerania from the Thirty Years' War to the late 19th century. As part of this project, the exhibition "The Golden Age of Pomerania. Art at the Court of Pomeranian Dukes in the 16th and 17th Centuries" was created at The National Museum in Szczecin. In 2012, it was awarded "Sybilla" – the most important Polish prize for museum exhibitions. The assumption of the project was, among others, deep cooperation at the curatorial level. It is worth to emphasize the attention with which Dr. Schroeder listened to the voices of Polish museum workers regarding the narrative of his exhibition and its reception on the Polish side. The second innovative assumption of the project was the way in which the texts for the exhibition were developed (in particular the audioguide content). The museums assumed that they would not be simply translated into the neighbour's language, but they will be deeply corrected in relation to the original version – considering different historical perspective, cultural experience, the knowledge of recipients, as well as a different way of functioning of the language. Of course, this would not be possible without mutual trust, as well as knowledge of the culture and history of the partner country (which was contributed to by Dr. Schroeder's interest in Polish affairs and knowledge of Polish history he had since his doctoral studies). The result of this approach was the creation of an extremely lively and interesting and, above all, clear narrative. The third common project implemented since 2018 as part of the Interreg program "Common heritage – shared future ..." took the success of the previous one as a starting point. The museums decided, that in creating permanent exhibitions, different national perspectives should be used on one hand, and the compatibility of their collections should be shown on the other.

The uniqueness of cooperation between The State Museum of Pomerania and The National Museum in Szczecin has already been recognized for numerous times. At a conference on cross-border cooperation at the Zeitgeschichtliches Forum in Leipzig in 2008, a special panel discussion was even organized with the participation of Dr. Schroeder and then deputy director of The National Museum in Szczecin Dr. Rafał Makała, in order to picture this phenomenon. Director Schroeder, answering participant's question about what he did in case of both museums' conflict, said: "we do not conflict, we just work together" – which is probably the best reflection of his attitude towards The National Museum in Szczecin, as well as the true joy of winning the "Sybilla" by The National Museum in Szczecin for the exhibition carried out as part of the common project, shown by publishing an enthusiastic message on the website of The State Museum of Pomerania. On other occasions, as the director of his institution, he regularly emphasized the uniqueness of the situation of the museum in Greifswald.

It should also be emphasized that Dr. Schroeder combines openness to the partner institution with great modesty and attention to his colleagues. While giving thanks at the "Pomerania Nostra" award ceremony, he emphasized, among others, that he receives it as an award for the entire museum team.



The National Museum in Szczecin