13 April 2016 – December 2016
Exhibition curators: dr M. Przybył, mgr T. Kasprowicz, mgr P. Silska
Place: Gorka Palace, ul. Wodna 27, 61-781 Poznań
The baptism of Mieszko I in 966 is commonly perceived by Poles as one of the most significant events in the history of Poland and an act that influenced the development of the Polish state and nation. In the result of a far-reaching decision of our first ruler, the state located in the Warta river basin, although modest in terms of its territorial scope, was incorporated into the Christian community, thus becoming an integral part of the Western European cultural circle. The baptism, profound in its consequences, was the starting point for the Christianization of the Polish lands, the process which began from the conversion of the ruler and his closest people, and led to the emergence of small islands of a new religion in the sea of traditional pagan beliefs. The hearts of these “islands” were focused in the main centres of political power, where the new ideology was quickly taking root.
One of such centres in the young state of Mieszko I, the stronghold located on the Poznań Cathedral Island (Ostrów Tumski), is the subject of an exhibition organized by the Archaeological Museum in Poznań, titled “Archaeological mysteries of the Cathedral Island in Poznań”. Its main objective is to present to a wider public a role that the stronghold played in promoting Christianity in the Polish lands and to remind the visitors about the importance of our first ruler’s baptism in the cultural development of Poland. The exhibition displays spectacular items of medieval material culture discovered during archaeological excavations carried out on the Cathedral Island in Poznań since 1930s to the present day. The field research was conducted in the area of the most important places and buildings associated with the dawn of Christianity in Poland, including the remains of the stronghold complex, the prince’s residence with a palace chapel, and the remains of the oldest Poznań cathedral uncovered within the present day Archcathedral Basilica. In the light of the latest findings, these structures represent the earliest stone secular and sacral buildings in Poland, corresponding chronologically to the time of the reign of Mieszko I. The exhibition, as suggested in the title, is not limited thematically to the issues concerning our first ruler’s baptism; its narration goes beyond this exceptional event which should be considered a symbol of changes in the history of Poland initiated in that time.
The exhibition was subsidised by the National Centre for Culture under the programme “Chrzest 966 2016”.