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1933-1942 [ENG]

In the 1930s, there were discussions regarding the construction of new headquarters, which could accommodate the Museum’s entire collections: warehouses, offices as well as permanent and temporary exhibitions. At that time, the concept of handing over the building at 4 Gdańska Street appeared, however, it was not implemented then.

One of the most important events in the Museum’s history took place in 1937. A rich collection of works and personal memorabilia of Leon Wyczółkowski was acquired, donated by Franciszka Wyczółkowska, the painter’s widow. Among them were: oil works, watercolours, graphics, drawings, personal memorabilia (including medals) and items constituting the artist’s studio equipment – a total of 942 items. This painter, connected with the region towards the end of his life, chose the Bydgoszcz facility as a place where his memory and that of his work would be preserved. The deed of donation said:

Professor Franciszka Wyczółkowska, wishing to express the cordial feelings that her husband, the late Prof. Leon Wyczółkowski, had for the city of Bydgoszcz, and wishing to create a permanent monument to his great art, hereby donates the works and collections of Prof. Leon Wyczółkowski included in the list constituting an integral part of the act of donation.

Due to the expansion of the collections, the City Hall made efforts to expand the Museum premises. It was decided to transfer the building of the former Borderland Boarding School (currently 32 Chodkiewicza Street) for exhibition purposes.

The Museum brought objects from all over the country for exhibitions. One such exhibition was the Contemporary Belgian Medals exhibition (1935). Works of local artists were also shown in the Municipal Museum. The first edition of the Bydgoszcz Salon took place in 1936. In the following years, this event became an annual element of presenting the achievements of the local artistic community. From 1923 to 1939, about 120 temporary exhibitions were presented, mostly related to visual arts.

The tense international situation at the end of the 1930s led to a change in the Museum’s priorities. Thinking about further expansion of resources, it was necessary to think about how to protect the accumulated collection during war. In August 1939, when the threat seemed to be imminent, safeguarding of the most valuable artefacts began. In order to protect the exhibits, chests were prepared in which the exhibits were packed. Most of them were left in the Museum’s building in the Old Market Square, and the building itself was secured and closed.

On September 5, 1939, Bydgoszcz was occupied by German troops. The Museum (as Stadtmuseum Bromberg) continued to operate while remaining the property of the city. The collections in Bydgoszcz and the institution itself were recognized as German, which was a blessing in disguise as it meant that they were under protection and their looting or transporting to other German institutions was not allowed. After the occupation of Bydgoszcz, the city was bloodily pacified. Mass shootings took place, among others, in the Old Market Square, in front of the very building of the Museum.

In 1940, the Museum lost its headquarters. In accordance with the decision of the German authorities, the western part of the Old Market Square was demolished, including the post-Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola. A period of wandering began for the institution’s collections. The building at Burgstraße 1 (currently Dom Polski, 1 Grodzka Street) was designated as the first location for temporary storage. The relocation of the artefacts took place at the turn of November and December 1939. A little later, the premises were selected to serve as a chamber music hall, so the Museum’s management faced the task of finding new premises. The former residence of the Bydgoszcz Region Mayor, located at Hermann Göring Straße 8-10 during the war (now 25 Marszałka F. Focha Street), was chosen. Technical documentation, cost estimates and even equipment were designed. Bold plans were not organized and exhibition activities were kept to a minimum.

Exhibitions organized in the first years of the occupation in Bydgoszcz were held in many places and were supposed to play a propaganda role. The first of them was the Deutsche Kunst im Braheland exhibition, which was organized in 1941 in the Zivilkasino (Civil Casino) room at Adolf-Hitler-Straße 20 (currently 20 Gdańska Street). It presented selected works of artists from Bydgoszcz and the surrounding area. In the following year, the Bromberger Kunstausstellung 1942 exhibition was prepared in the auditorium of the Königliche Gymnasium (currently the 1st High School) on Weltzienplatz (currently Plac Wolności).

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