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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » August 2, 2010
Exhibitions
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Ethnographic Museum
August 2, 2010   
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The Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw has two interesting exhibitions running up to the end of August: one devoted to the Olędrzy who settled for several hundred years in the region which is Mazovia today, and the second displaying the work of one of Mongolia’s most outstanding artists for the first time in an EU country.

The Forgotten World of the Olędrzy is an exhibition devoted to the history of the Olędrzy on Polish lands. Originally this Polish term referred to settlers from Friesland and the Netherlands, mostly of the Mennonite faith, who in the 16th and 17th centuries founded villages along the River Vistula and its tributaries, in the Kujawy, Mazovia and Wielkopolska regions. At that time they were the wealthiest group of peasants. They continued to practice their own faith because Poland had adopted a liberal attitude to immigrants.

Later, until the mid-19th century, settlers of various nationalities, mainly Poles and Germans, were referred to as Olędrzy, as were Scots, Czechs and Hungarians who enjoyed freedoms which had previously been granted to settlers from Friesland and the Netherlands. Historical research has shown that the Olędrzy founded at least 1,700 settlements. Traces of these are still visible to this day, in the village architecture, the physical layout of villages, and place names.

In the Museum of Ethnography exhibition you can see artifacts from the culture of the Olędrzy such as farms, houses, tools, and also from their religion.

The honorary patrons of the exhibition are the Dutch embassy, the German embassy, the governor of Mazovia province, the mayor of Warsaw and the Bishop of the Lutheran Church.

The Mongolian embassy and Polish foreign minister are the honorary patrons of an exhibition called Meditation. The Art of Zanabazar and of His Students. It highlights the work of Zanabazar, the outstanding Mongolian artist and Buddhist religious leader and politician, who lived in 1635-1723 and was dubbed the “Leonardo da Vinci of the Great Steppes.” Today his sculptures fetch millions of dollars at auctions.

The exhibition has been organized jointly with the Museum of Fine Arts in Ulan Bator. Mongolian, French and British researchers were invited to compile a catalogue for the exhibition.
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