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Feuilletons | Monika Gapińska

Comfortable shoes, a thermos with coffee. The Night of Museums is back!

After a two-year break caused by a pandemic, the Night of Museums returns. Already on Saturday evening – and at night, of course – instead of sitting comfortably in front of the TV or going to sleep, you can visit, see, and experience. Many cultural institutions, including the Lentz Villa, have prepared a lot of attractions.
Every year, of course, before the pandemic, about 20,000 residents of Szczecin participated in the Night of Museums. This year, the number should theoretically increase significantly because new institutions or places worth visiting have emerged. So much for the theory. And what will it look like in practice? Will the inhabitants flock to the night sightseeing, hungry for such events? Or maybe the time of the pandemic has made us all so lazy that instead of "going out into the city", we will choose to binge-watch a TV series on a streaming platform? I hope the number of participants in the Night of Museums will increase, perhaps even double, compared to the pre-pandemic years.

My personal experience shows that the Night of Museums can have an extremely effective educational dimension. It sounds serious, doesn't it? The idea is to convince our children to visit museums, galleries and exhibitions and not to associate these outings only with a boring visit, similar to the one at the elderly aunt's name day.

The possibility of dressing up as a king or princess or "entering" a picture and taking a selfie during the Night of Museums is a method that will appeal to children and can be the first step in showing the beauty of art, even to a few-year-old. Fun is the ideal method of education here. Especially that it is worth raising the bar from year to year, our child will discover further levels of "initiation" of experiencing painting, sculpture or visual arts.

Please forgive this lengthy part concerning the educational aspects of the Night of Museums. Still, I can boast of my achievements in this field immodestly. Well, my almost-adult child is a conscious recipient of art and willingly attends museums and exhibitions. Ba! A few years ago, my daughter, still a fresh high school student, went to a show in Krakow on her own, stood an hour in the queue at the ticket office and did not leave the exhibition after a quarter of an hour. Of course, someone who was not a teenager's parent might say, "And this is supposed to be a success?!". Yes. I can assure you that a visit to the museum is not what young people choose as an idea to spend an afternoon during the holidays, having Netflix and their own phone as an alternative. All the more, I am convinced that the attractiveness of the annual May night tour had a significant impact (although it is evident that it was not the only one) on the fact that the daughter does not go to the exhibitions to make her mother feel proud but for her own pleasure.

Recently, however, in a very respectable and serious group, I have heard the opinion that the Night of Museums is a ludic form, which has nothing to do with the authentic tasting of art alone. I disagree with that. If a night tour is called a folk party, then watching the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, in the crowd of visitors, should be called a local or harvest festival. Let's be clear – a visit to the Louvre rarely, or rather, is an occasion to contemplate art alone or even in a small group. Should you, therefore, give up going to one of the most famous museums in the world?!

Although I am not an enthusiast of festivals that are examples of folk attractions, where there are races in sacks, beer in plastic cups and concerts by disco polo bands (or – at best – "fakes" by Abby, Boney M. or Queen), I like the Night of Museums. I like this collective perception of art. As much as I like watching movies with my family, not alone or how much I like going to a show with my husband, when, right after crossing the threshold of the theatre, on the way to the car, we exchange our ratings for acting. The most pleasant moments for me are those moments during the journey when the emotions related to the viewed monument or the view of nature can be immediately confronted with the companion of the trip.

That is why I am going to the Night of Museums, wearing comfortable shoes and with coffee in a thermos. I must show up at the Lentz Villa, where a lot will happen. Oh, even a mapping called 1888. THE ILLUSION OF TIME. I saw it during the inauguration of this cultural institution, so I can confidently recommend the show. It is a feast for the senses and an interesting history lesson. Therefore, I will only reveal that the characters of the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries will be brought to life during the show. Writers will be represented by Arthur Conan Doyle, T.S. Eliot, Eliza Orzeszkowa, Henryk Sienkiewicz and Emil Zegadłowicz, inventors by Emil Berliner and George Eastman, and artists by Julian Fałat, Vincent van Gogh and Jan Matejko. The figure of the founder and the first owner of the palace, August Lentz, will also be animated, as well as the number 1888 that closes the event, symbolically referring to the year in which the building concept was created. Intrigued?
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