Volunteering for Heritage: Study visit to Tyniec (Krakow), Poland
The third study visit of the „Volunteering for Heritage – Best Practice Exchange“ project was organized in Krakow, Poland from 18th to 25th of October 2021. During that week, the participants from Finland, England, Croatia and Poland gathered to continue project discussions, workshops and lectures. Project members were hosted by the Polish project partner in the medieval Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec.
On the first day, participants had a guided tour in the monastery where they learned more about the long history and Benedictine tradition of this place. Built in 1044, the Abbey is the oldest monastery in Poland and today, thanks to the care and dedication of the Benedictine monks, it functions as a place where tradition meets modernity, with the goal of protecting the rich cultural heritage. After the tour, a short calligraphy workshop was organized in the medieval scriptorium, where the participants had the opportunity to see illuminated manuscripts and try to write calligraphic letters.
On the second day of the study visit, participants visited the Museum of Krakow where they met the Museum staff with whom they discussed the topic of volunteering for heritage. During the discussion, the participants presented their volunteer experience and good practices of their local organizations. As participants from Croatia, we shared our experiences gained by volunteering at Culture Hub Croatia and in independent galleries and other associations. Danijela briefly presented the goals and contents of the Culture Hub Croatia platform and various projects in which they participate. Lea described in detail the project “Rural heritage valorisation: creative communities in Podravina” in which she had participated, while Laura presented the Friends of Heritage association and the project “Mapping and documentation of industrial heritage in Ivanić-Grad”, which was created in collaboration with Friends of Heritage, Culture Hub Croatia and European Heritage Volunteers. It was a great opportunity to share the cross-cultural volunteering experiences and to expand the knowledge about this topic.
The participants also had an excellent guided tour of the Krakow Old Town, held by a tourist guide Mateusz Tomaszcyk, who, in a very creative, informative and interactive way, drew his picture of Krakow. Volunteers learned a lot about the rich Polish history, monuments and heritage sites.
The next two days were training days regarding the Interpretation of heritage. In those two days, the participants learned about new approaches to the interpretation of heritage and storytelling. During the creative activities, lectures and assignments, many great ideas came up. The participants were divided in three international groups, where they developed different ideas, such as an exhibition presentation or creating a heritage preservation project in their own country. They learned about the basic techniques of interpretation and the ways interpretation be applied to heritage sites volunteer programs in order to promote their key values. In a creative exercise at the Museum exhibition, the participants used interpretive techniques to create a short guided presentation about their chosen museum object. At the end of the training there was a discussion on volunteer work in our associations and at various heritage sites in our countries. The goal of the training was to learn how to connect people and volunteers to heritage, as well as how to create a link between the public and the heritage itself. Participants gained many useful tools for interpreting heritage, and specific knowledge they could implement in their own local communities when dealing with cultural heritage.
The last two days were about Jewish heritage in Krakow. Staff from institutions and members of the local associations, which actively acts on the preservation of Jewish heritage, shared their stories and experiences on volunteering with Jewish heritage, and the participants of the study visit asked them some questions about the ways they are trying to engage public and make important topic of Jewish history heritage more visible in the Polish public memory.