The Great Days of Wroclaw. Recovered Territories Exhibition in Wroclaw in 1948

exhibition on view till June 10, 2018

Wrocław, a city with a long exhibition tradition, has extensive and well-developed Exhibition Area that has been developing at the edge of the Szczytnicki Park since 1913. The area includes monumental buildings such as the Centennial Hall, Four Domes Pavilion, a pergola and a restaurant, some of the works designed by such outstanding architects as Max Berg and Hans Poelzig. It was here that the new Polish authorities decided to create the impressive Recovered Territories Exhibition in 1948, which in one hundred days, by presenting creative possibilities of Polish artistic communities, including architects and urban planners, was to emphasize Poland’s historical rights to the Western and Northern Recovered Territories.

A, B, C - the propaganda character of the exhibition provided for dividing it into three parts: problematic, centered around the exhibition areas of the Centennial Hall (at the time renamed into the People’s Hall) with the centrally set Iglica monument designed by Stanisław Hempel specifically for this purpose; the socio-economic part located on the present grounds of the Zoo and a commercial part located in the city center (former Młodzieżowy Square, currently the area at Bar Barbara on Świdnicka Street).

All the architectural and artistic works were coordinated by Professor Jerzy Hryniewiecki, who emphasized that: (…) If we really want to communicate with people using the language of contemporary art, then we must just speak with new architectural forms from the walls of the exhibition pavilions (…), because no words, no charts or adverts will be remembered like the language of art and architecture.

Fifty additional pavilions were constructed for the purpose of the Exhibition in the vicinity of the Centennial Hall and the Zoo. Many architects, mainly from Warsaw, were employed to organize such a large project. They already had experience in designing Polish pavilions at international exhibitions in Paris (1925 and 1937) and New York (1939). In addition to Jerzy Hryniewiecki, more than 100 artists participated in the work with Stanisław Hempel, Marek Leykam, Stanisław and Wojciech Zamecznik, Stefan Porębowicz and Tadeusz Ptaszycki, Xawery Dunikowski and Jan Cybis. Although the exhibition organizers - as they put it themselves - tried to “hide” the German past of Wroclaw and “Prussian” exhibition buildings (the Centennial Hall, then renamed the People’s Hall, was particularly prominent in this group) – the venues turned out to be so functional that they were successfully used during the Polish exhibition.

The activity of artists, architects, planners and green designers resulted in a great variety of artistic forms presented at the exhibition. Thanks to this synthesis, the most important mediums during the RTE were sculpture, painting, film and using the contrast of light and shadow, as well as compositions of consciously designed greenery (e.g. flower beds in the form of two maps of Poland). At the same time - artists and architects had the opportunity to present the Polish design school, and some of the temporary pavilions referred to the achievements of Polish pre-war modernism.

The exhibition, presented at the Museum of Architecture in Wroclaw from April 12 to June 10, 2018, was prepared on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Recovered Territories Exhibition. The main element of the exhibition constitutes dozens of photographs documenting the assembly process and the Exhibition opening as well as photos showing the architecture of the exhibition pavilions taken by such outstanding photographers as Adam Czelny, Krystyna Gorazdowska, Jan Bułhak and Edward Falkowski. The exhibition also shows watercolor sketches for the “Battle of Hundsfeld” panorama, posters from the RTE as well as guides and numerous gadgets created for the occasion.

In addition, in June this year a one-day scientific conference devoted to topics related to the Exhibition will take place at the Museum of Architecture.