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Those Elevated Ones. From the Pharaoh to Lady Gaga
date:Friday, 18 May 2012
End date:Sunday, 23 September 2012
category:exhibition, cultural event
Place:The National Museum in Warsaw


The National Museum in Warsaw starts celebrating its 150th anniversary this May. The anniversary celebrations begin May 17-20 with the reopening of refurbished interiors, a new exhibition, concerts, movie screenings and a family picnic. Anniversary-linked events will continue for 12 months.

One of the oldest art museums in Poland, The National Museum in Warsaw, was established in 1862 as the Museum of Fine Arts. After Poland regained independence in 1918, the new country and its capital, Warsaw, had big plans for the National Museum. The modernist building which at present houses the museum on Jerozolimskie Avenue was built in 1927-1938, designed by Tadeusz Tołwiński and Antoni Dygat. During World War II German bombs fell on the museum and part of its collection was destroyed, but most of it survived owing to determined efforts by the museum staff. Their silent struggle against the Nazis continued even after the museum was given the German name of Museum der Stadt Warschau. The staff meticulously documented items which were being shipped away to the Reich, making sure that once the war was over, they could be retrieved.The museum returned to Polish hands on May 7, 1945, and regained its Polish name. Two campaigns were then launched to rebuild the damaged collections. The museum managed to regain items plundered by the Nazis. As a result of the other campaign, aimed at enlarging the collections, within ten years the museum housed four times more items than it had before World War II. At present, The National Museum in Warsaw collections comprise around 830,000 works of art from Poland and abroad, dating from ancient times to the 21st century. They include paintings, sculptures,drawings, prints, photographs, coins, applied art and industrialdesign.

The refurbishment project will also cover the building’s courtyards and the museum will open a new cafeteria and have its screening room renovated. The room will also serve as a venue for meetings with artists. The museum aims to establish a visitor-friendly educational space with a number of attractions for children. It also wants to highlight its significance as a Polish and European center of culture where both individuals and families with children can spend quality time.

Program of the event

“Those Elevated Ones. From the Pharaoh to Lady Gaga” is an exhibition dedicated to the mechanisms and iconography of power. Its objective is to show the omnipresence of hierarchy, from antiquity up to the present time.

The exhibition will reveal historical hierarchies in older European societies (ruler as god, elevation through proximity to god-ruler, hierarchy as will of god), but also hierarchies in democratic, republican, and declaratively egalitarian societies (power as will of the people, equality as negation of birth hierarchy). Hierarchies in modern societies will also be an element of the exhibition, especially where an authoritarian regression took place, a return to old totalitarian hierarchies (Nazism, fascism, Stalinism, dictatorship of the proletariat, communism). The exhibition will conclude with present day hierarchies and their new apparatus serving the purpose of “elevation”, namely the privilege of access to media or the world of fancy gadgets.

In order to illustrate the dominance of hierarchical thinking and to represent the lavishness of its visualizations, the exhibition will display objects from a number of eras – from ancient Egypt (e.g. sarcophagus and a cartonnage of a Pharaoh's mummy), through monarchic power attributes (coronation garments), up to contemporary objects of splendour (Vacheron watch or Ferrari car). The old and the contemporary “elevated ones” will collide with each other, so will the methods by which they highlight their uniqueness and build their image.

Krzysztof Pomian, the director of the Museum of Europe in Brussels provides scientific oversight of the event. The exhibition, in which most of the sections and studios of the NMW partake, is realized by a team of curators under the guidance of Prof. Antoni Ziemba and Dr Grażyna Bastek, with the participation of Aleksandra Janiszewska. The exhibition will be accompanied by a lavishly illustrated Polish-English catalogue.

Co-financed from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage funds.


ticket price: different for each event.

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