The Centre for Documentation of Modern Sacred Art was established by a resolution passed by the Senate of the University of Rzeszów on February 26th, 2009. It was integrated into the organizational structure of the university as part of the Faculty of Art and affiliated with the Research Laboratory for the History of Art.
The Centre was founded in response to the request from the participants of a national conference, which was held in 2007 under the patronage of the Rector of the University of Rzeszów and dealt with the development of research into the sacred art of the last two centuries.
The Centre for Documentation of Modern Sacred Art is the publisher of the Sacrum et decorum quarterly; as a research unit, whose scope of interest covers the sacred art of the 19th and the 20th century, it also serves as an archive and an information centre..
The Centre enjoys the patronage, advocacy and support of professor dr hab. Andrzej K. Olszewski. An eminent art historian in the field of modern sacred art, professor Olszewski had called for the creation of the Centre for several decades. Once it was established, he endowed it with the wealth of documentation he had collected over the 30 years of his research into modern sacred art.
keywords: University of Rzeszów, Centre for Documentation of Modern Sacred Art, Andrzej K. Olszewski
The Centre for Documentation of Modern Sacred Art was established in the structure of the University of Rzeszów by the resolution of the Senate on the 26th of February, 2009; it was established in the Faculty of Art and linked to the Research Laboratory for the History of Art.
The Centre was created in response to the postulate directed at the University authorities by the participants of the national symposium devoted to the development of research into the 19th and 20th century sacred art, which was organized in 2007 under the auspices of the Rector of the University of Rzeszów.
The scientists’ initiative was received with approval by Professor Włodzimierz Bonusiak, the Rector of the University at that time, who initiated the creation of the Centre, entrusting all of the organizational tasks to Doctor Grażyna Ryba, a researcher and a teacher at the Faculty of Art.
The efforts towards the creation of the institution were finalized by Professor Stanisław Uliasz, the present Rector of the University. Contributors who joined in the tasks necessary for the creation of the Centre with great sympathy and commitment were also Professor Aleksander Bobko, the Vice-Rector for Research and International Relations, and Professor Jerzy Kierski, the Dean of the Faculty of Art. Invaluable assistance and advice was also provided by workers of particular sections of the university administration, most of all by Ms. Janina Kut M.A., the Bursar of the University.
The Centre for Documentation of Modern Sacred Art is a unit of archival-informational and scientific-research character; the range of its interest includes the 19th and 20th century sacred art. The aims and tasks of the unit are listed in detail in the Regulations, approved by the Rector. They include, among others: obtaining, archiving and digitalizing documentation of the 19th and 20th century sacred art related to authors, particular objects and object complexes, patrons and investors (Reg. 5.1), creating photographic documentation and inventory cards (Reg. 5.2), gathering information on scientific works and press articles concerning modern sacred art (Reg. 5.3), undertaking research work (Reg. 6), and allowing access to its collection to researchers conducting studies in the fields related to the Centre’s activity (Reg. 5.4; 5.5).
The Centre intends to organize scientific conferences devoted to various aspects of the research into the sacred art of the last two centuries (Reg. 7.3). Research results of the studies conducted within the unit, or in collaboration with the unit, will be published in the form of monographs and cyclic publications included in its editorial activities, in cooperation with the University of Reszów Publishing Office (Reg. 7.4).
It must be mentioned here that the Centre has already started issuing a yearly magazine “Sacrum et Decorum”, a periodical of national range, published in two language versions, which includes publications on issues in the 19th and 20th century sacred and religious art. The second volume of the periodical is now being delivered to the readers.
An inadequate legal protection of modern works of sacred art in Poland frequently enables thoughtless destruction even of most excellent realizations. With scarce documentation existing, these works often become forgotten. At the same time, numerous research problems occur, resulting from the lack of systematic archiving of source materials and of gradually collected information on the creation of new sacred realizations, introduced as decorations in churches, often provincial ones, situated far from academic centres.
Many interesting works are not known to the researchers, and the lack of their critical analysis condemns them to inexistence in the scientific world, thus making it impossible to create a synthetic and possibly objective picture of the art of the passed century. The works consistently undertaken and developed in the Rzeszów Centre for Documentation of Modern Sacred Art are intended to keep for the history of art, and to introduce, on a larger scale, to the social awareness modern sacred realizations, as well as to assist all those researchers who choose religious art as the topic of their studies.
The patron, great supporter and advocate of the Centre is Professor Andrzej K. Olwszewski, an art-historian who largely contributed to the research into the modern sacred art. For the last couple of decades, Professor has been postulating the necessity of creating a centre of that kind, and when it had been established, he donated to the institution the results of over thirty years of his work on documentation of the modern sacred art.
The Centre is the only unit of this type in Poland, and its counterparts have been operating in university centres in Germany, France, or Italy for a long time. Launching cooperation with such institutions, and similar units in Poland, will help to gain experience that facilitates the realization of the tasks set for the Rzeszów Centre.
The authorities of the Unviersity of Rzeszów have allocated one of the most beautiful buildings in the city for the seat of the new Centre; it is the so-called Summer Palace of the Lubomirski family, built at the turn of the 18th century according to the project by Tielman van Gameren, and rebuilt a few decades later as maison de plaisance, which has still retained some of the atmosphere and glimmer of its prime.
The building holds the office and the reading room of the Centre, as well as a conference room with conference backup facilities. The location in the historic centre of Rzeszów, the beauty of its architecture, the pleasant aura of the rooms and the possibility of taking a rest in the garden provide advantageous working conditions to the guests using the services of the Centre and arriving to conferences. The collections gathered by the Centre occupy the storage room that takes up one floor of the University Library, which meets all the requirements for conditions of storing of valuable archivalia.
The ceremony of inaugurating the activity of the Centre for Documentation of Modern Sacred Art at the Faculty of Art of the University of Rzeszów took place on the 18th of February, 2009, in the seat of the Centre. The participants of the ceremony were the representatives of the University authorities and the university society, the representatives of the local church and of the municipality, and the invited guests, as well as all those interested in the development of research into the modern sacred art. The guest of honour was Professor Andrzej K.Olszewski, the indefatigable advocate of the Centre.
The inauguration began with the speech by His Majesty Rector Stanisław Uliasz, who presented the goals and tasks of the new unit and nominated as its Head Doctor Grażyna Ryba, who had dealt with the organization of the unit on behalf of the University authorities. The speech by His Eminence bishop Edward Białogłowski concentrated on the issues connected with the meaning of art in the mission of the Church in the modern society. Professor Jerzy Kierski, the Dean of the Faculty of Art, characterized the activities of his unit, into which the new Centre had been included.
As a part of the inauguration of the Centre, a scientific conference was organized: Documentation of the 19th and 20th century sacred art: aims, methods, realization. The invited guests delivered speeches on their own experience and the experience of their institutions in the field of archiving documents connected with various art disciplines. The Rev. Professor Józef B. Wanat, a distinguished art-historian and archivist, spoke about the significance of the monastic archives in the work of a researcher dealing with objects of religious worship. Rev. Doctor Waldemar Żurek presented the contribution of the Institute of Church Archives, Libraries and Museums of the Lublin Catholic University to the research into Polish culture, and Ms. Izabela Sosnowska-Kozieł M.A., presented the documentary activities of the Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsk. The next event to celebrate the inauguration was the vernissage of the exhibition Express the inexpressible, which presented the works of professors of the UR Faculty of Art: Stanisław Białogłowicz, Tadeusz Boruta and Tadeusz Wiktor. Opening of the exhibition was followed by a lecture by Doctor Grażyna Ryba on formal search in modern art, directed at metaphysical contents. The exhibition was arranged owing to the assistance of Przemysław Tejkowski, director of the Wanda Siemaszkowa Theatre in Rzeszów.
The official opening of the Centre became an occasion to promote the inaugural achievement of the institution, i.e. the first volume of the above-mentioned periodical “Sacrum et Decorum”, prepared simultaneously with the Centre.
The creators and co-operators of the new academic unit express their hope that soon, with the support from the University authorities, associated institutions, the Church and the scholars and artists, the Rzeszów Centre will develop its activities and offer assistance to all those interested in the sacred art of our times.
Translated by Anna Ścibor-Gajewska