Polish museum in Switzerland must move out

The Polish Museum in Rapperswil must move out of its premises by the end of next year. The local authorities want to remove the Polish museum from the medieval castle, which next month will celebrate its 150th anniversary.

Anna Buchmann, director of the Polish Museum in Rapperswil, informed the "Rzeczpospolita" daily that moving out of the castle has become imminent. "There would have to be an exceptional situation to force the town's community to change its decision. We have until the end of 2021" - she added.

The head of the institution explains that the museum is not only a location, but also a collection. "In this respect we cannot talk about the liquidation of the museum. The art collections entrusted to us for care, the archive and the library remain private property. It will be up to the museum's managers to decide on the future fate of the collection and the shape of the future museum. With leaving the castle, the history of the museum at Rapperswil castle is gone, but the history of the Polish Museum in Switzerland does not end" - she assured “Rzeczpospolita”.

The fate of the museum and its rich collection will be decided on October 25th by a general meeting of the Society of Friends of the Polish Museum. On this day the museum will also be celebrating the 150th anniversary of its foundation.

It was the local authorities that decided to change the development of the castle where the museum is located. They are planning its modernisation and gradual privatisation. A restaurant will probably be set up in the premises which are today occupied by the Polish institution. Representatives of the Swiss Polish community point out that this decision was preceded by an "unprecedented hate campaign against the presence of Poles in Rapperswil, organised by local politicians.

The museum at Rapperswil Castle has been present, with short breaks, for 150 years. It was founded in 1870 by Władysław Count Broel-Plater. Famous Poles lived in the castle, among others the writer Stefan Żeromski created his works there during a four year residence.

The collection includes paintings (paintings by Józef Brandt, Józef Chełmoński, Teodor Axentowicz, Jacek Malczewski among others), a collection of medals, old maps, sculptures and militaria. There are also unique historical memorabilia, such as a medallion with Tadeusz Kosciuszko's hair, his watch, Henryk Sienkiewicz's armchair and the so-called silent keyboard used by Jan Ignacy Paderewski.