Wrocław’s monumental Battle of Racławice panorama reopens after 10-month-long facelift
Wrocław’s Panorama of the Battle of Racławice is preparing to welcome back visitors after an extensive 10 month modernisation – the biggest renovation in its history.
A monumental painting measuring 15 x 114 m and depicting the victorious 1794 Battle of Raclawice led by General Tadeusz Kościuszko against the Russian Army, the battle is commonly known as the Kosciuszko Insurrection or Uprising.
Born from an idea by Lviv-based painter Jan Styka to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle, it was created in collaboration with eight other artists, including Poland’s most famous painter of battle scenes Wojciech Kossak.
The artists spent nine months on the enormous depiction of the battle, working on a canvas specially woven to order in Brussels set on an iron construction made in Vienna and was first displayed in Lviv at the Great National Exhibition in 1894.
At a time when Poland didn’t exist as a sovereign nation after being wiped off the map of Europe by the three partitions between 1772–1795, the Panorama provided a comforting memory of the importance of the Polish nation.
Surviving WWII bombing raids and years of being hidden in a wooden crate filled with rat poision, after the war the painting was transported to Wrocław as part of the Ossolineum collection from Lviv.
But it was not until 1980 when political sparring over how and where to put it on public display and wider political conditions became favourable enough that approval was given for it to be housed in a specially built rotunda in Wrocław.
The official opening of the rotunda, a flagship example of brutalist architecture built with the help of funds from a nationwide public collection, took place in June 1985 and quickly became a popular attraction and draw to the city, with visitors including Pope John Paul II, Queen Beatrix of Belgium and poet Czesław Miłosz.
Today it brings in around 400,000 visitors each year from Poland and abroad.
Shortly before the announcement of its opening, Piotr Oszczanowski, Director of the National Museum in Wrocław of which the Panorama is a part, said: “I am aware that people are missing it and want to see the place that is a visiting card for Wrocław.
“The modernization must be detailed and intriguing, therefore we are changing the educational formula, we are using mapping and huge LCD screens.
“Everything that until now we narrated, will now be screened and presented, because we want a visit to the Panorama to not just be a one-off visit.”
The value of the renovation was approximately 30 million PLN, with funds coming from the EU’s Infrastructure and Environment 2014-2020 Operational Programme.
Announcing its long-awaited reopening on social media, the museum said its doors are to open on July 27th.