Cabinet of Ryszard Kaczorowski, last President of Poland in Exile
ul. Ciołkowskiego 1J
(Prof. Andrzej Myrcha Natural Science Centre of the University of Białystok)
Tel. 85 738 82 69
Mondays – Fridays: 9 am – 3 pm
Saturdays: 10 am – 2 pm
Director: Prof. Piotr Chomik
Custodian: Prof. Adam Czesław Dobroński, Jolanta Żochowska MA
In March 2011, during the ceremony naming the Auditorium of the University Library after Ryszard Kaczorowski, Last President of the Republic of Poland in Exile, the late president’s widow, Karolina Kaczorowska announced the decision to move the furnishings of the cabinet of President Kaczorowski, who died in the Smolensk plane crash in 2010, to the Jerzy Giedroyć University Library. On 28 May 2011, following a meeting of the directors of the University Library and Prof. Adam Dobroński with Karolina Kaczorowska, the contents of his last cabinet were moved from Warsaw to Białystok. The president’s family considered the act of transferring the furniture, library and memorabilia as his last
symbolic journey to the city in which he was born. At present the exhibition contains the entire collection of books donated to the library in the years 2009–2011: 1,883 books, 196 magazines (48 titles), 442 items from special collections, 27 prints, 232 items from music collections and 147 documents relating to social life. There are also 186
individual exhibits comprising memorabilia, gifts, medals, diplomas, pictures and personal items. The central space is occupied by the president’s desk and a carved armchair in the Gdańsk style which are decorated with the ʽJelita’ coat of arms of the Kaczorowski family. The furniture includes bookshelves and glazed cabinets which contain the president’s book collection – in the same way as in Warsaw. However, the true value of President Ryszard Kaczorowski’s cabinet lies mainly in the memorabilia he amassed during his lifetime and placed on shelves and hung on the walls. These were collected by the president during the twenty years of his life he spent in free Poland. They testify to the high esteem in which he was held by people throughout Poland – including senior Members of Parliament, local government authorities, representatives of schools, academic and educational facilities, associations, organizations, enterprises and the ordinary citizens he met in his every day life. One particularly rich collection consists of diplomas and the accompanying souvenirs confirming his honorary citizenship of various cities and municipalities. The collection also includes many small items that were given to the president by people who were close to him as a token
of their appreciation for their many years of friendship (including one from Andrzej Błasik, commander of the Polish Air Force), and gifts given on the occasion of birthdays or during his frequent visits to cities or private enterprises.
These items also testify to his many contacts with veterans and military circles. The walls are filled with memorabilia given to the president by rectors of Polish universities. The gifts he received when he visited schools in Wrocław, Sulejówek and Gorzów Wielkopolski are particularly touching. The president’s desk is a veritable treasury of his personal belongings which include his watch, a container for ballpoint pens, photographs of his wife, his daughters and his family, his glasses, a pen and ink. The permanent exhibition entitled Ryszard Kaczorowski 1919–2010, presents the president’s life and activities over the years. Furthermore, cyclic exhibitions are organized which are dedicated to specific issues in his life: scouting, his activities as an émigré, his stay in Białystok and the University of Białystok. Meetings commemorating the Smolensk tragedy and relating to academic and popular science are also housed in the cabinet, as well as book promotions.