In January 2005, the Manggha Centre of Japanese Art and Technology entered a new phase in its activity. Formed in 1994, on the initiative of Andrzej Wajda and Krystyna Zachwatowicz, it was a division of National Museum Krakow, and also a place where the Kyoto-Krakow Foundation proactively promoted the culture, art and technology of Japan. In 2005, pursuant to a decision of the Minister of Culture, the Manggha Centre was spun off from the organisation of the Museum and until 1st September 2007 operated on its own as an autonomous cultural institution. Since1st September 2007 the status of the Centre has changed.
The Manggha Museum has no analogy not only in Poland, but also in Europe. Ever since the beginning of its existence, it has combined two functions: that of a museum per se and also that of a centre of culture. In terms of forms and effects, the activities of the Museum match the understanding of the role of the contemporary museum, which is becoming a dynamic institution, introducing new extra-museum forms of activity going beyond the traditional gathering, systematising and displaying of collections. In accordance with the general trend, the old type of museum – the ‘temple of arts’ – is gradually turning into a vibrant centre of culture, and increasingly its primary goal is to propagate art through interdisciplinary work, where the main emphasis is on education in its broadest sense. Instead of typical features of a traditional museum, such as durability and invariability, in the new type of institution the following are foregrounded: openness, adaptability and diversity of activities.
The presence in the Manggha Museum of a rich collection of old Japanese art owned by the National Museum in Krakow makes it possible to offer a versatile presentation of traditional Japanese culture. Ever since the opening of the Museum, the collection has been an integral part of what we offer, which means that, whenever necessary, selected objects form this collection serve as either a starting point or a point of reference form presentation of specific themes in Japanese culture, art and customs…
In popularising knowledge about Japan during all years of our activity we have relied on a variety of methods, including multimedia activities, the use of modern audio and video equipment, and multifaceted treatment of the themes we present. All this is intended to help a recipient raised in the European cultural circle understand the unique character of the cultures of Asia. We try to reach various audiences; we offer a wide and variable range of programmes, both at a popular and a specialist scholarly level. As far as possible we respond to the public interest, and at the same time we continue to work on key motifs and themes connected with art, music, theatre, philosophy, or religion.
Such proactive operation would not be possible without our modern venue, specially designed for these new tasks, and – above all – our young team, which is growing in more ways than one and is always eager to take up new tasks and challenges, and to introduce innovative forms of activity adequate for the specific range of subjects that we deal with.
In its new capacity as a national institution of culture, the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology intends to continue and enhance its activities, previously conducted by the Kyoto-Krakow foundation, in reliance on both the collection of old Japanese art deposited by the National Museum in Krakow and the experience and contacts gained so far.
At present, we wish to extend our area of activity to include other Far East countries, primarily China and Korea, Non-Japanese themes, which in fact have already surfaced on several occasions – in lectures, during academic conferences, exhibitions, dance and theatre shows – will be featuring increasingly in our programme. It will be possible to address new themes primarily thanks to various collections of Far Eastern art in Poland and collaboration with Polish orientalist circles and specialists in a variety of disciplines of Far Eastern art and culture.
We also plan to make direct contact with institutions of culture and artists in that part of the world. Based on our previous experience, we look forward to continued active collaboration with other European countries in promoting the culture of the Far East, joint research programmes and projects, and exchanges of artists and exhibitions. Proper development of our activity will be possible after the Gallery of Far Eastern Art is built near the Manggha Museum, as a separate building intended for exhibitions and other non-Japanese events.
Bogna Dziechciaruk-Maj – Director of the Manggha Museum