The museum’s mission
In the area of Polish musical culture, the Polish musical tradition is of exceptional importance. As a result of social and economic changes, it is increasingly often operating in a non-folk context, becoming a historical category, cultivated in “open-air museums” through competitions and festivals as well as by folk music enthusiasts with non-folk background. One of the most important foundations of this tradition are folk musical instruments, which, as the product of the human handcraft they are a mine of information about the life of the individual who produced them, but also about the life of the people (K. Moszyński). The Museum of Folk Musical Instruments in Szydłowiec has the largest collection of folk musical instruments in Poland, is one of the oldest museums of its kind in the world, and according to some musicologists, the first independent museum of its kind in the world1, and is an institution particularly predestined to undertake active efforts related to the subject of music and folk musical instruments. Therefore, the main mission of the museum is to collect, protect, disseminate and promote the most valuable objects and phenomena of tangible and intangible musical tradition related to folk instruments as emotional messages, discovering and broadening knowledge about folk instruments and musical repertoire, building national and local identity, discovering folk music as music of participation creating interpersonal bonds, shaping sensitivity, sense of aesthetics, creativity, as well as allowing to perceive traditional music as an inspirer of professional artists, which penetrates the area of high art and leaves its mark in the form of outstanding works. This mission, materialized both through the visuality of musical artifacts and the “matter” of live music, allows the museum to undertake valuable activities which take various forms: traditionally offered exhibitions and shows, which are most often a point of reference for many other museum activities, such as: concerts, workshops, museum lessons, lectures, competitions, scientific meetings, educational films prepared on the basis of materials collected as a result of field research, publications, as well as projects deviating from the usual, projects of a modified or even innovative hybrid structure, combining aesthetic, informational and didactic values, showing the undertaken topic in a panorama of accompanying phenomena. The museum’s offer is aimed at various groups of people: enthusiasts and supporters of traditional music, music lovers as well as all those who are interested in the surrounding world, all those who seek evidence to human creativity in the areas where spirit and matter meet.
The Museum’s location, the 15th–16th century Szydłowiecki and Radziwiłł Castle, as well as the historical and artistic collections related to the oldest history of Szydłowiec help us to see the mission of the Museum also in the promotion of knowledge about the history and culture of the region and the history of Poland in this fragment of the times of Szydłowiec’s greatest splendor — the 16th–17th century. The history of the town built at the bank of Korzeniówka River in the Middle Ages and its artistic achievements, with evidence of the activity of the most eminent Renaissance and early Baroque artists and craftsmen perfectly focused, among others, in the Castle — the location of the Museum (preserved architecture and its details, painting decorations) allow to discover its fascinating history, which is not devoid of legends, as well as value and beauty of local and national cultural heritage of Szydłowiec.
1 In the mid-1970s. dr. Erich Stockman, the head of the study group aimed at researching folk musical instruments at the International Folk Music Council and the vice-president of this international organization, expressed the opinion that the Museum in Szydłowiec is the first independent museum in the world dedicated to folk musical instruments. Private archive of Danuta Paprocka, Ludwik Bielawski’s letter to Danuta Paprocka, the director of Museum of Folk Musical Instruments, dated 25 April 1975.