• The "Motława" ferry does not operate due to the river embankment renovation until further notice

100 Years of the Polish Sailing

„…Who has not heard the streams of water splashing behind the stern, singing their song of eternity, then indeed in the harp of their life had one string mute and its chord was incomplete.” – this is what General Mariusz Zaruski, the pioneer of Polish sailing and maritime education, wrote about sailing in the 1930s. Just a few years earlier, on 11 May 1924, the Polish Yachting Association was established – the official sailing federation of the re-born Republic of Poland. The delayed beginnings compared to other countries did not stop the Polish male and female sailors from reaching for the highest yachting accolades in the future. Many times, ahead of more experienced nations, for subsequent 10 decades they would bravely take on the challenges of solo voyages, achieve honourable places on world record lists and win championship and Olympic medals. The exhibition entitled “100 Years of the Polish Sailing” in the Granaries on Ołowianka Island is the first in the history of Polish museology to tell such a comprehensive and multifaceted story, about both the most famous successes and the lesser-known aspects of the Polish sailing sport.

The exhibition centres around the stories of the great voyages of the Polish male and female sailors. Their stories are presented e.g. by the models of Władysław Wagner’s Zjawa yachts, the stern of the 1967 Euros, the vane blades from Mazurek, the yacht of Krystyna Chojnowska-Liskiewicz and Fanfan, the yacht of Joanna Pajkowska, elements of electronic equipment from Spaniel, the boom and storm mainsail from Opty of Leonid Teliga, as well as a complete sailing outfit of Krzysztof Baranowski. – We aim to illustrate the historic voyages of Poles not with souvenirs or medals, but with the actual equipment and parts of the vessels used by the sailors to make their achievements – says Radosław Paternoga, the exhibition curator. – Thanks to the creative arrangement, our exhibition centres around a unique, multifaceted and multimedia essence of Poles’ achievements in ocean yachting.

WIn the section dedicated to sports sailing the visitors can see for the first time the cup from 1937, awarded to the Poles for the second place in the Gotland Runt regatta. The pre-war exhibits also include the team sew-on badges from the 1936 Berlin Olympics, owned by Juliusz Sieradzki, the later designer of the iconic Omega. Particularly interesting are the team jerseys of the Polish Olympic athletes and their trophies; these also include the replicas of medals donated by Mateusz Kusznierewicz (Atlanta 1996) and Agnieszka Skrzypulec-Szota (Tokyo 2020), and the original medal of Przemysław Miarczyński (London 2012).

Whereas the return to the origin of Polish sailing constitutes a part of the exhibition referring to maritime education. Visitors can see here, e.g. a sailing outfit from the inter-war period, a pre-war book of orders from Zawisza Czarny and items owned by General Mariusz Zaruski. The exhibits also include the boatswain’s glove, a hammer used to lay the keel for Pogoria, and musical heritage essential to sailing – shanties and instruments played by Marek Szurawski and Jerzy Porębski.

The activity of sailing clubs and districts is associated with artefacts of a unique history. These include e.g. the original cap of the Polish Yacht Club, once owned by Ludwik Szwykowski – the president of the Polish Yachting Association between 1926 and 1929 and the author of the first Polish sailing handbook. On display there is also a flag of the Academic Maritime Union from 1934 and elements of metal tableware from the Polish Maritime Club, which survived World War II hidden in… a henhouse. At the exhibition, inland sailing is represented by a collection of club signs and pennants. These include a unique curiosity – the pennant of “Miś” Class Enthusiasts’ Club, a class invented especially for budget-built yachts. Whereas the narrative about the Polish community sailing is illustrated by club pendants, souvenirs from sailing rallies and the history of ocean voyages of Poles living in exile.

The abundance of themes, stories and artefacts on display are captured in an immersive design, referring to the sea, foaming waves and endless horizon. – The aesthetic we have applied evokes both the sea depths and dark blue sky moving in the wind. Whereas the motifs of isobaths and the sailing voyage route surrounding the exhibition give the viewers the impression as if they were looking at a vast map of the oceans – explains Bartłomiej Garba, the second curator of the exhibition. The importance of exhibits, as well as the visual effect of yachts moving on the sea waves, has been emphasised through a creative play of light. What particularly catches the attention of visitors is the above-mentioned spatial arrangement in the centre of the exhibition: visitors can see there a massive yacht structure, which is a conceptually daring synthesis of ocean sailing.

The exhibition was developed in cooperation with the Polish Yachting Association, which celebrated its 100th anniversary on 11 May 2024. The organisation, which initially comprised just four clubs (the Sailing Club in Chojnice, the First Polish Yacht Club in Gdańsk, the Sailing Section of the Military Rowing Club and the Sailing Section of AZS Warsaw), over many decades became the foundation of the Polish victories at the Olympic Games, the World Championships and voyages by the Polish sailors to the farthest parts of the world.

In addition to artefacts from the collection of the National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk, the exhibition will present artefacts and memorabilia provided by: Academic Maritime Club in Gdańsk, Klasyczne Jachty Foundation, Sopot Sailing Club, Historical and Ethnographic Museum in Chojnice, VBW sp. z o.o., Jerzy Wąsowicz, Marek Padjas, Maciej Sodkiewicz, Przemysław Rey, Piotr Myszka, Przemysław Miarczyński, Monika Bronicka, Agnieszka Skrzypulec-Szota, Jolanta Ogar-Hill and Mateusz Kusznierewicz.

Moreover, the exhibition has poster editions: a Polish and an English one at the Polish Museum of America in Chicago. The latter presents the history of Polish sailing with a focus on the achievements of the Polish sailing community.

Team of Curators: Radosław Paternoga and Bartłomiej Garba
Exhibition Design: Trias Avi sp. z o.o.
Exhibition Construction: Meteolab sp. z o.o.
Exhibition Partner: Polish Yachting Association
Media Sponsor: TVP 3 Gdańsk, Radio Gdańsk, Trojmiasto.pl, WodnaPolska.pl, Żeglarski.info

100 Years of the Polish Sailing
12.05.2024 – 4.05.2025
Granaries on Ołowianka Island

„100 Years of the Polish Sailing” exhibition is co-financed by Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland