“The Armenian Cathedral in Lviv and Its Creators”: Exhibition in the Wilanów Orangery

Lviv is a unique city for Poles. Whilst wandering along its streets, it is impossible to overlook the tokens of the former, multi-cultural Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the joint, Polish-Ukrainian past; most of them are located within the borders of the old town. The exhibition of the International Cultural Centre and the POLONIKA Institute entitled “The Armenian Cathedral in Lviv and Its Creators”, which was open from 2 October until 25 November 2019 in the Orangery of the Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów, transported the visitors to this unique city, which is still filled with the atmosphere of the past centuries.

The Armenian Cathedral in Lviv and Its creators - poster

“The Armenian Cathedral in Lviv and Its Creators” exhibition was a unique opportunity to visit one of the oldest and the most historic churches of Lviv. It presented both the architecture of the cathedral, as well as the wall paintings of Jan Henryk Rosen, which adorn its interior. They are some of the most important works of the Polish sacral art of the inter-war period which - on account of their nature - cannot be presented outside of the cathedral. Thus, the Warsaw exhibition was the first opportunity for many people to see these unique paintings and to learn about their history.

Apart from Rosen’s works from the Armenian Cathedral, the exhibition also presented other works of the artist that embellish churches around the world, as well as works created for the Armenian Cathedral by other artists. The viewers also saw designs for reconstruction of the cathedral prepared by Cracow’s architect, Franciszek Mączyński, and designs for ornamental decorations by Józef Mehoffer. Additionally, the exhibition was accompanied by historical and cultural context pertaining to the Armenian population of Lviv and the development of the multi-cultural Lviv, along with information from the realm of conservation work carried out in the cathedral since 2006. The work offered an impulse for organising the exhibition.

"The Institution of the Eucharist", painting in the presbytery of the Armenian Cathedral in Lviv, photo: P. Mazur

The conservation work was carried out by the Heritage Academy Alumni Association - post-graduate studies offered since 2001 by the International Cultural Centre and the Cracow University of Economics. The work financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the POLONIKA Institute was carried out by Polish and Ukrainian conservators under the supervision of Professor Joanna Czernichowska from the Fine Arts Academy in Warsaw. After completion of work, the International Cultural Centre prepared an exhibition which was shown for the first time in Cracow in 2015 and later in several cities in Poland and Armenia, whereas its version, which was presented in Warsaw, was updated and supplemented with new elements. 

Interior of the Armenian Cathedral in Lviv, photo: P. Mazur

The exhibition had the form of boards and spatial reconstruction models, but it was also accompanied by multi-media materials. One of the key elements were podcasts, where Joanna Wolańska, Ph.D., art historian specialising in the works of Jan Henryk Rosner, revealed facts and titbits about the cathedral and its authors, whereas Dorota Janiszewska-Jakubiak, Director of the POLONIKA Institute, talked about the Polish cultural heritage abroad. The podcasts also featured information about the Armenian history, culture and relations of the Armenian population with Lviv.

The Armenian Cathedral in Lviv, photo: P. Mazur

The exhibition was supplemented by the “Przebudzone spojrzenia” movie, which set the paintings of Rosner alive. The persons painted by the artist revealed their identity and thanks to this, the viewers could discover the secrets hidden behind their poignant gazes and got to know the artistic relations in Lviv at the beginning of the 20th century.

The authors of the exhibition did not forget about children: the POLONIKA Institute prepared the second episode of educational cartoon “Polo i Nika” where the two main characters go on a trip to the Armenian Cathedral. They meet Jan Henryk Rosen who is busy working on his paintings and they learn about the conservation of works of art. Additionally, educational classes according to specially prepared scenarios were also conducted as part of the exhibition.

The films accompanying the exhibition (“Przebudzone spojrzenia” and “Polo i Nika. Katedra ormiańska”) will also be available at the website of the POLONIKA Institute: www.polonika.pl. 

The exhibition “The Armenian Cathedral in Lviv and Its Creators” was open for visitors between 2 October and 25 November in the Orangery in the Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów. The exhibition was accompanied by an album entitled “The Armenian Cathedral and Its Creators” prepared in Polish, English, Ukrainian and Armenian language versions.

The ticket for the exhibition was the same as the ticket for the park Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów.

The exhibition received the honorary patronage of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. 

Organisers: POLONIKA Institute, International Cultural Centre in Cracow, Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów
Supervising institution: Ministry of Culture and National Heritage
Content-related supervision and exhibition concept: Michał Wiśniewski
Exhibition arrangement: Barbara Kowalewska
Photographs: Paweł Mazur
Graphic design: Wojciech Kwiecień-Janikowski
Cathedral model:  Katarzyna Suszek, Jakub Suszek (Atelier La Scala)
Multimedia production: OSORNO Krzysztof Czeczot
Media patrons: TVP Kultura, TVP Polonia, Radio Kolor, Polska Times. Metropolia Warszawska, Presto, Spotkania z Zabytkami, naszemiasto.pl, dzieje.pl

POLONIKA The National Institute of Polish Cultural Heritage Abroad was established on the 18th of December 2017, as a specialised state institution of culture, founded by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage. The purpose of the Institute is to preserve the material traces of Polish culture abroad and to form Poles’ awareness with respect to their cultural heritage. The projects of the Polonika Institute are conducted as part of three strategic programmes: PROTECTION, RESEARCH AND POPULARISATION of the Polish cultural heritage abroad.

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