Exhibition: Church Bells in Eastern Europe 1914-1945

The exhibition “Church Bells of Eastern Europe. 1914-1945” prepared a few years ago as part of the Heuright program coordinated by Andrzej Jakubowski is now available on our website.

The Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences holds a large collection of historic survey photography of the region placed between the territories of two EU member states (Poland and Lithuania) and the bordering countries of Belarus and Ukraine, called within the Polish historiographic tradition  ‘the Eastern Borderlands.’ This is a mosaic of small, often vestigial collections from the turn of the 19th century up to the outbreak of the Second World War, once belonging to various institutions, societies, amateur photographers, etc. Dominated by architectural and artistic heritage, it includes folk art, ethnography, and landscape.

Cast out of bronze and safely mounted on high towers they could not escape the ravages of war. In particular, during the First World War, they were removed en masse by all of the belligerent parties as a prime material for weapons. Transported in chaos, stored in distant places, in many cases, they have never returned to their places of origin. The exceptional wartime surveys of bells consisting of measurements, descriptions, drawings, tracings, plaster-casts, and photography are today the only material traces of this bygone material and sound heritage. Photography again is the most telling evidence of its importance and dramatic fate. The pictures capture not only the bells themselves, but the acts of their removal and destruction, the endless “bell fields,” and the difficult work of the surveyors. Photography was also an irreplaceable witness of the peoples and communities once inhabiting these lands be it in the ethnographic type genre or ethnographic surveys.

We invite you to see the exhibition