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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » November 30, 2010
On the town
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Trouble at National Museum
November 30, 2010   
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The troubled National Museum in Warsaw has been forced to shut two galleries amid financial problems.

The museum, which has been hit by a string of woes including protests at an exhibition focusing on homoerotic art, has temporarily closed its Northern Schools Painting Gallery and the Matejko Hall after it ran up debts of zl.2.5 million.

New director Agnieszka Morawińska, who is seeking ways to overcome the financial problems, must now decide when the exhibitions will reopen. The museum’s collections cost zl.600,000 every month to maintain.

Although the museum’s debts were written off several months ago, the museum has again stopped paying off its loans.

Morawińska was selected as new director of the National Museum Oct. 28 by 11 members of the Board of Trustees chaired by Prof. Jacek Lohman. She had been asked to apply for the post of director by Bogdan Zdrojewski, the culture and national heritage minister. Morawińska presented her overall proposals for how the museum should work and be promoted across Europe.

Prof. Piotr Piotrowski, the previous director of the National Museum, resigned Oct. 12 after the Board of Trustees turned down his 10-year development plan for the museum. He was also unpopular with the staff of the museum, who had demanded that he be dismissed.

Piotrowski had been appointed director in February 2009. In June this year the National Museum staged an exhibition entitled Ars Homo Erotica which dealt with homosexuality. Stanisław Pięta, a deputy from the Law and Justice (PiS) party, claimed the exhibition was offensive, had a damaging effect on public morality and misused public funds. Pięta addressed a parliamentary question to the minister of culture and in reply, Zdrojewski wrote that the museum tackled issues which were of importance in public life and for democracy.

Prior to taking the post at the National Museum, Morawińska was head of the Zachęta National Gallery of Art.

Morawińska, a historian and art critic, knows the ins and outs of the National Museum because her parents used to work there and for 16 years between 1976 and 1991, she was the curator of the museum’s Gallery of Polish Art. In 1990 and 1991, Morawińska was deputy minister of culture and art. In the 1990s, she was the curator of the Art Collection at the Royal Castle in Warsaw and Poland’s ambassador to Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. She has given lectures at the Fine Arts Academy in Warsaw, and is also a translator and has authored papers on art history.

The National Museum in Warsaw is visited by around 400,000 people every year. The latest exhibition, Chopin—An Iconosphere of Romanticism, was on display until Nov. 14.
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