With more than five hundred items from the collection of the Gdynia City Museum ordered, categorised and arranged in the space of 200 m2 – is this not actually a storage area? Can an exhibition look like a storage room? How many objects should be displayed and are all of them fit to be shown? Why are such collections so important? How to look after the particular holdings? There are more questions and each answer brings about further questions*.

A historian of art will cry out: horror vacui**, and will find the selection of the works accidental… – but this is only on the surface level, as each item has its own particular place in the display. Owing to this unusual, minimalist, technical, section-based form of the exhibition we may bring to light objects that are unobvious, large, or composed of many elements. The omnipresent motif of the metal netting is not meaningless – it is on such large format netting that paintings are stored in museums. This sort of an exhibition is a complete novelty in our institution – owing to it we open ourselves more broadly to the public and break with the lack of access to our holdings, making the contents of our storage areas available not only to conservators-restorers and registrars.

There are seven paths to choose from and to follow to become acquainted with the collections of the Gdynia City Museum. Regardless of your choice, you will first see one of our largest and heaviest sculptures, which is shown for the first time in its entirety. Connoisseurs of painting will encounter as many as 90 paintings hung on the netting. Various printmaking techniques – such as linocut, copperplate engraving, and woodcut, as well as illustrations and designs – are waiting to be discovered in the drawers. Textiles of multiple sizes, colours and textures will tempt everyone to touch them, but it is first worth to look at our mini textiles – will excessively close contact not harm them? The exhibition also provides space for design, which the Gdynia City Museum collects inter alia owing to the cycle of exhibitions under the title Polish Designs Polish Designers. In turn, for those of us who are moved by stories of transformation, we provide a path called conservation, which makes us aware of the dangers facing museum holdings and the importance of the challenging work of conservators-restorers. Finally, it is worth having a look at the cabinet of curiosities – kunstkamera, displaying not only works of art, but also the boring and the exciting, the typical and the unusual objects of everyday use connected by a single theme – Gdynia.

*QR codes spaced around the exhibition lead to articles on the history the particular items; look for object cards placed by the individual sections to learn about the particulars of specific holdings

**Horror vacui – fear of space or emptiness (its opposite – amor vacui, is tantamount to the love of emptiness); in art it is equivalent to the filling of the entire space of a painting with decorations and representations, without leaving any empty background


Katarzyna Gec-Leśniak