AN OPEN MUSEUM
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Celebrating the Chopin Year 2010 is a time of many important cultural events. One of the key investment is  the opening of  a new museum exhibition of Frederic Chopin.

Works on rebuilding the old premises of the museum have been carried out since 2005. The institution is dedicated to collecting memorabilia of Frederic Chopin, for many years located in the historic  Ostrogski Palace at 1, Okólnik Street in Warsaw.  Its redevelopment has completely changed the nature of the previous Museum. As a result of this metamorphosis particular care has been taken to preserve the relation with a long tradition of the institution. At the same time the Museum has gained a new identity as an institution to meet the needs of viewers, depending on their individual needs based on the various collections of artifacts, the results of the latest scientific research and artistic activity.

The biggest world collection of items related to Frederic Chopin, includes  musical manuscripts, printed scores, Chopin correspondence, personal items (cufflinks, diaries etc.), iconography, as well as biographical works about him and critical commentaries on his compositions and his reception as a composer.

A collection that has been gathered since 1899 by the Warsaw Music Society, since 1934 the Frederic Chopin Institute, which, since 1953 has continued  the activity of the   Frederick Chopin Society, and more recently by the Frederic Chopin Institute,  is located in the renovated Ostrogski Palace.

In 1859 the renovated building became the home of the Institute of Music, in 1919 renamed the Conservatory. This high-level music school was the successor to the Warsaw Conservatory from the times of Chopin’s youth, then known officially as the Music Section of the Fine Arts Department of the Royal University of Warsaw.

The architectural reconstruction project was prepared by the  Grzegory & Partnerzy Architekci Studio. New concept of functional museum was designed after the technical expertise and gathering the necessary documentation.  The project aimed at increasing the working space of the museum (managed to increase by 90%) and the construction of a new concert hall.

The Competition for the ideation and realization of the permanent exhibition design of the new Chopin Museum closed in August 2008.

The project presented by  the firm Migliore+Servetto Architetti Associati,   belonging to  two Italian architects Ico Migliore and Mara Servetto turned out to be the best. Their company deals with the architectural designs of buildings and interiors as well as implementing the concept of interactive exhibition for Museums and Institutions.

The investment is financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Operational Program Infrastructure and Environment. Care of the content and the executive of the Chopin Muzeum holds the Frederic Chopin Institute. The Chopin Muzeum is the focal point of the Chopin Year celebrations in 2010 and also the most important national institution of the memory of a great Composer.

 – It is a difficult task that we wish to accomplish, due to the complexity and specificity of the theme itself – says Alicja Knast,  the Chopin Museum curator. – We are dealing with matter and the elusive intangibles that everyone receives in their own unique way: with music. Frederic Chopin and his work is, of course, in the center of our interest. The main question we set for ourselves, was how to show that wealth in an accurate, but also attractive and undisturbing individual needs and preferences of the audience way. Therefore, we do not limit ourselves to one medium, we will not only offer visitors with headphones. Also, there will be a choice of several options communing with the sound: the sound installation via the arrangement of an audiophile up to live concerts. We want the museum to be a universal, inspiring and thoughtful site,  corresponding at the same time with the individual needs of the visitors. It might sound pompous, but I strongly believe that this goal can be achieved, primarily because it is essential to create  a museum of XXI century that gives credits to Chopin’s genius.

The innovation of the museum is mainly based on  an individual approach to the viewer. Each guest receives a ticket  made with the use of the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology.  Information about viewer’s preferences will be digitally encoded in the ticket. Depending on the person’s decision and needs the right profile tour will be chosen. The use of RFID technology allows customization of the audio-visual content, taking into account four levels of narrative: basic, advanced, for children and for the visually impaired. Each level will be presented in eight languages. An omnipresent ‘soundscape’ which is based on its own scenario will go silent in the room documenting the composer’s death.  With the use of the light and sound  the elements of particular interest to the viewer will be exposed. Visitors will be able to choose one of eight languages, and one of the four tour profiles.

The exhibition is developed on the four levels of the palace, ranging from the basement. Each floor’s exhibition will be devoted to life and work of the composer from a different perspective. One will get familiar with the facts from different periods of his life, for example in Poland and in Paris. We’ll see works by Chopin, his inspiration, the women in his life as well as  the circumstances of birth and death of the Composer.

The Museum is focused on the individual reception, the specifics of its construction at the same time implies a kind of universality. The various components of exposure have been designed in such a way so that everyone in the museum finds something for themselves:  the school tours, artists as well as students seeking in-depth knowledge of manners and people  of Chopin’s era.

All these features allow the institution to break the stereotypical image of a “museum” as a dull, ‘dead’ exhibition . Interactivity, self-selection and an extremely wide range of information from different fields will allow the new  Chopin Museum to be  both the central to the Chopin’s Year celebrations and  the National Memorial of Frederic Chopin.

dr hab. Maria Popczyk