CHOPIN 2010
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    Celebrations Office

    A platform for exchanging information between institutions, journalists and organisers of jubilee events. Brings you official information about:

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CHOPIN 2010 Celebrations office

 

ŻELAZOWA WOLA

The house where Fryderyk Chopin was born is probably the most frequently visited memorial site of the genius composer, both by Polish and foreign tourists. "Żelazowa Wola," say the French, the English and the Japanese with difficulty but also with pride and set out on a quest for the magic which is supposed to surround the undoubtedly already legendary country estate. For decades, however, what was offered visitors from near and far was not the most extensive. The infrastructure was also lagging behind, which – in the face of rising standards in the word’s tourism – was making Żelazowa Wola less and less attractive as a tourist destination. 

The Fryderyk Chopin Institute launched intensive efforts to reverse the state of things as early as in 2005. The Institute bought a plot of land adjacent to the Chopin park, commissioned building construction expert studies, geotechnical and dendrologic research, as well as updating of the tree stand inventory and securing protection for historic trees. Seeking to obtain the building permission, the Institute organised a competition for the restoration of the whole manor and park. The winning project was submitted by the Stelmach and Partnerzy architectural office, the same which has designed the Chopin Centre in Warsaw. The construction works concerning the manor were launched in 2006 – the overall modernisation of the building took a year.

In March 2008 the conservation works were completed; in August 2008 a large-scale investment project was launched envisaging the creation of an attractive and functional museum and tourist centre at the site of Fryderyk Chopin’s birth, a place whose primary goal would not be to meet some specific standards, but first and foremost to fulfil the expectations of its visitors, regardless of their cultural background, age or interests.

Modern revitalisation of  Żelazowa Wola

Since August 1, 2005, the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in Warsaw took under its supervision the composer's house of birth. The new institution had a very serious approach to the task. Already in 2005, a plot of land adjacent to the park was purchased with the aim to move on it the support infrastructure present near the entrance. The mansion’s shingle roof was replaced, and dendrologists examined and catalogued the stand of trees in the park.

In the beginning of 2006, a competition was opened for developing the project for revalorization of the park and the mansion in Żelazowa Wola in cooperation with the Union of Polish Architects. The project’s goal was to transform Żelazowa Wola in the culture and education centre, which would be open to the broad public for the whole year round, and not only seasonally. Moreover, the formula of tourist visits was to be changed from half an hour presentation of the mansion and the park to whole day long trip with the Chopin theme. The atelier Stelmach and Partnerzy Sp. z o.o from Lublin won the competition. Rafał Mroczkowski was responsible for the landscape architecture. Moreover, already in Autumn, work on general modernisation of the mansion started. It was congruent with the project developed by Jarosław Głuszek, the architect. The renovation was completed at the end of April, 2007.

Construction work started in August, 2008, and in the spring of 2009, park revalorisation started, including the greenery and irrigation system (contractor: Konsorcjum Park M, Pleneria). Small architecture started to be planned. Work on controlling water basins and the Utrata River started (contractor: WINNICKI company). The work took a year and a half. The complex was open to visitors in the spring of 2010.

At the same time two light, full of glass elements buildings were constructed. They are an example of modern architecture which coexists with ancient buildings. Such projects are made of materials available in the site where work is conducted (wood and stone). The first building fits ticket desks, cafe, shop and multimedia room. In the second there is a restaurant and a multifunctional room dedicated to concerts, conferences and film shows. The new buildings are located at the border of the park, while the mansion is in the centre of it. Renovation of green space required several hundred thousand new plants, 120 km of underground pipes dedicated to irrigation and 30 m of electric cable for lights enabling visiting the whole place also in the evening. A new, unique system of loudspeakers allows for listening to concerts even in the most remote spots of the park. The whole territory, including buildings, is adapted to special needs of disabled people who can reach every corner of the complex using special platforms and alleys.

The interior of the very mansion underwent radical change. According to the project developed by Tomasz Śpiewak, Zbigniew Brzoza, Mariola Wojtkiewicz and Beata Nyczaj, furniture and items coming mainly form Chopin’s times were removed. Only one piano stayed. The interior now serves as modern exhibition space to present the history of Żelazowa Wola from the 19th century until modern times. On white walls there are among others portraits of the Chopins and Skarbeks families, monochromatic photographs presenting events from the past, reproductions of posters from the concerts and fund-raising to reconstruct the house of birth of Fryderyk Chopin, and postcards and posters from the beginning of the previous century. There are also entries in the first in Żelazowa Wola memory book from 1895. One of the most important exhibits is the manuscript of the score of the Polonaise in G minor dedicated to Wiktoria Skarbek placed in three glass showcases. In future the exhibition will gain a Kaiser-panorama with photographs dating back to the 30s of the previous century. The culmination point of the exhibition is the former bedroom where Fryderyk Chopin was born. Special atmosphere of the place is made of two beams of light, taking out of darkness the interior of the open piano and the Fryderyk Chopin’s portrait. The scene is completed by two reproduced documents related to the composer’s birth showing the disparity in the dates of his birth. Sightseeing in Żelazowa Wola takes place with audio guides.

Żelazowa Wola was opened to broad public on May 7, 2010.

Photographs