Both tangible and intangible, post-Teutonic heritage remains an inseverable part of the cultural landscape of multiple countries across the world, Poland’s northern territories in particular. Extending beyond castles typically quadrilateral in form and brick churches, it comprises secular buildings, historical technology artefacts, and entire urban development complexes in towns incorporated by the Teutonic Order. Tangible heritage further includes movable artefacts, sacral relics in particular: altars, paintings, sculptures, liturgical paraments, and sanctuary furnishings. The Teutonic Order has left a legacy of assorted items: chronicles, treatises, poems, liturgical texts, and sheet music. This is a huge research area with tremendous cognitive potential in fields of history and culture, as well as a cultural phenomenon triggering considerable social interest, in many cases an essential part of local identities. Furthermore, post-Teutonic heritage is a cardinal contribution to Polish history and national tradition.
Museums are scientific institutions engaging in basic and detailed research. In order to deliver their fundamental tasks, i.e. collect, preserve and share artefacts, museum staff have to work – i.e. study them. Their display form most frequently involving presentation in exhibition catalogues, research outcomes become a basis for further and more extensive studies, general conclusions, hypotheses and theories, the latter generally engaged in by academic institutions and specialised research institutes. In consequence, specialist museum staff – their greatest basic knowledge and specific scientific competencies notwithstanding – are deprived, for purely organisational reasons, of the opportunity to continue studies or share competencies gained, a substantial loss for science and the staff themselves.
In case of the Malbork Castle Museum, specialist personnel study movable artefacts as well as castles in Malbork, Sztum and Kwidzyn. Interdisciplinary research covers fields of history, art history, architecture, archaeology and historical monument conservation, its scope frequently extending well beyond aforesaid castles and artefacts preserved within. Such studies ought to be continued and developed, their outcomes confronted with the academic community. The Centre for Post-Teutonic Heritage Research would offer such opportunity in institutionalised form.
Initiating and engaging in scientific research apart, the Centre’s particular focus would involve documentary evidence. Currently hugely fragmented, scientific documentation (status quo of research) will become a natural basis for academic efforts once collected and preserved in digital format. To that extent, the Centre will serve the interests of Castle Museum employees and scientists, as well as investors, contractors of conservation and construction studies and works, and anyone else concerned.
A pivotal part of the Centre’s work will involve education, popularising research outcomes, and publishing. The Centre’s activities will support efforts to create space for collaboration and experience exchange in areas of practical studies, conservation and reclamation works, and management. The Centre under design will be the first institution with an exclusive focus on tangible and intangible post-Teutonic cultural heritage. Responsible for managing the largest brick castle of the world – a site inscribed onto UNESCO’s World Heritage List – and boasting tremendous experience across all fields of related activities, the Castle Museum is a natural location for such Centre as described herein.
Once the project has been completed, the planned cultural-and-educational offer of the Centre for Post-Teutonic Heritage Research will include the following:
- An online database,
- A series of popular science conferences with a focus on the destruction of castles on territories of the former Teutonic Order dominion in Prussia during World War II,
- “Living history” classes,
- Liturgical singing workshops.
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