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Founded in 1926, Museum of Belarusian Polesie in Pinsk moves into magnificent former Jesuit Collegium

Museum exhibition treasure trove

Founded in 1926, Museum of Belarusian Polesie in Pinsk moves into magnificent former Jesuit Collegium
Founded in 1926, Museum of Belarusian Polesie in Pinsk moves into magnificent former Jesuit Collegium

Last autumn, Pinsk welcomed the Dozhinki regional festival, its town centre altering beyond recognition. Residential houses were reconstructed in the central square and a section of Lenin Street (close to the square) was brought into order. Moreover, the town’s Culture House was completely renovated and part of Pervomaiskaya Street became pedestrianised.

Exhibitions at Pinsk museum

The former Jesuit Collegium building also changed its appearance, with more than Br1bn spent on repairing and painting facades, and having new external illuminations fitted, ensuring that it sparkles through the night. Its grounds have been landscaped, making them an inviting gathering place for young people on a warm evening.

The 70 Victorious Years exhibition marks the 70th anniversary of the Great Victory, with the museum hosting a gallery of partisan glory, and a permanent exhibition entitled Pinsk Land in the Years of the Great Patriotic War. Its Childhood Burned by War displays, aimed at school students, feature multimedia and sound equipment, ensuring great interest from younger visitors; their number increases year on year.

The Pinsk museum is a treasure box of rare, diverse and fascinating items: a Varangian fork, an amphora fragment, a 12th century ceramic tile, woolly rhinoceros bones, a royal charter, an 18th century Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and, even, a wooden bicycle. Displayed by theme or period, a walk through these exhibits is both inspiring and overwhelming. History almost seems to assail us.

Certain simple pieces stand out — such as a calendar left open on June 22nd, 1941. However, without their own individual cabinet and special illumination, it’s easy for such items to ‘disappear’ among the mass of artefacts, Some ‘redesigning’ is necessary to make the most of particular pieces.

Although its ‘external face’ is already finished, and well-polished, the interior layout, with its numerous halls and exhibits, needs an urgent ‘reload’, to ensure maximum enjoyment for visitors. A cohesive artistic concept is needed, taking into account the architectural features of the Jesuit Collegium. Individually-tailored show-cabinets and special illumination, as well as general design, are vital to creating an attractive museum space. Such work comes at a price (at least Br1bn) but such funds are unlikely to be available any time soon. The Deputy Chairman of the Pinsk City Executive Committee, Alexander Kanevsky, explains that, since last year, the Collegium grounds have been under development and landscaping. Of course, it will take time to achieve change at the Museum of Belarusian Polesie. It took five years to partially update Brest’s Regional Local History Museum. As the Pinsk building is much bigger, it is likely to take far longer. However, all good things are worth waiting for.

By Artem Kiryanov
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