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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » November 19, 2008
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Changing Face of Wroc³aw
November 19, 2008 By M.H.    
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The National Museum in Wroc³aw is marking its 60th anniversary with an exhibition of some 550 works of art linked with the city, from the first view of Wroc³aw dating back to 1493 through those created after 1945. They are largely prints and drawings, but there are also medals, artistic handicrafts and a separate display of postcards.

The exhibition aspires to depict the city's changing face over the centuries. It consists of five parts: Wroc³aw in Medieval times, Renaissance, Baroque, 19th century Wroc³aw, and the city in the 20th century.

The part devoted to the Middle Ages has views of the famous Benedictine Abbey in Wroc³aw's neighborhood of O³bin: a monumental Romanesque building pulled down in the 16th century. It also has representations of Gothic tenements, either pulled down or reconstructed long ago, together with the former City Hall building in Wroc³aw's New Town. The Renaissance section contains Wroc³aw's oldest city map, painted on canvas by Barthel Weihner and his son of the same name in 1562.

The Baroque view of Wroc³aw includes prints by F. B. Werner. They document not only buildings but also the city's splendor and busy life, with customs, traditions, festivities and ceremonies of the day. The Oder River, an important artery through Wroc³aw and a distinctive feature of the city landscape, is a frequent setting.

The Guckkasten and Zograscope viewing boxes conjure up with the use of special set of lenses an illusion of perspective and light effects.

The exhibition also has works about a well-known catastrophe in Wroc³aw: the explosion of a gunpowder tower, located near today's intersection of W³odkowica and Krupnicza streets, caused by a bolt of lightning in June 1749. The explosion killed 65 people, mainly local Jewish residents. The city authorities opened a new Jewish cemetery as their resting place.

The greatest changes in the city's appearance took place in the 19th century. After Napoleon's army captured the Wroc³aw stronghold, demolition of the city fortifications started in the years 1806-1807. In the next decades, following the dismantling of the defensive wall, the city expanded and its old, compact historical center opened up to a view from a new perspective.

The exhibition closes with Wroc³aw motifs in works by 20th century artists.

National Museum in Wroc³aw, 5 Powstańców Warszawy Sq., until Jan. 25
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