Marta Wróblewska – MA in Art History and English Philology at the University of Gdańsk. Currently PhD student in History, Art History and Archaeology at the History Faculty of the University of Gdańsk. Accomplished postgraduate studies in the EU Funds (Business and Administration School in Gdynia) and Cultural and Creative Diplomacy (Collegium Civitas in Warsaw). Visiting PhD student at Technische Universität in Berlin (2018). Published popular articles in art magazines like: o.pl, Obieg, Arteon, Artluk, Kwartalnik Fotografia, Kwartalnik Rzeźby Orońsko (Sculpture Quarterly „Orońsko”), SZUM. Scientific publications in: Heritage Journal MDPI, Porta Aurea, “Progress IS” / Springer Nature Switzerland AG, Interaction Design &; Architecture(s) – IxD&A Journal, Sztuka i dokumentacja (Art and Documentation Journal). Currently working as art curator in Gdańsk City Gallery (responsible for Günter Grass Gallery in Gdańsk).
The Local Vs. Central Idea of Identity – the Battle for Gdańsk’s Museums
Gdańsk has become, over the last several years, the field of intensively negotiated identity narrations. This well-acknowledged memory place, where the Second World War started and communist regime was overthrown, constitutes a perfect ground for exercising conflicting political interests, power battles, individual and collective ambitions. Those processes are especially reflected in the
approaches towards the new prestigious history-oriented institutions: The European Solidarity Centre, The Second World War Museum and Westerplatte. In this case two main identity-making entities are the local government versus central government. Their conflicting political visions, which enter the realm of culture institutions, have resulted in specific political measures undertaken
in order to influence the programming of their exhibitions and narrations, as well as make personal decisions concerning their employees. The founding director of the Second World War Museum was made redundant and replaced two weeks after the institution’s public opening; budget cuts and other kinds of limitations were exercised upon the European Solidarity Centre in order to enforce steps towards re-organizing its team; last but not least, the area of Westerplatte was taken away from the city of Gdańsk’s jurisdiction by the State through a special legal act. Observing the steps taken towards controlling and influencing museums shows not only the importance of their narrations in the historical and social processes of identity making, but also the indisputable power of the identity- making entities to exert their own ideas (ideologies) with the use of different political and legal mechanisms. Those mechanisms have impacted not only the administrative structures of the institutions, but also their audiences whose reactions vary from active empathy and support, to passive consumption of provided information. Those mechanisms – whether based on public debate or its lack – engage many different actors representing the frictions within the realms of politics, history, culture, sociology, architecture, anthropology, etc. in a heated discussion
concerning the scope and limits of political interference into the independence of museums’ functioning. Key words: identity politics, conflicting identity visions, culture institutions, museums, power vs Culture.