Zbigniew Wawer, Director of the Royal Łazienki Museum, passed away

On 12 December 2022, after a long and severe illness, Professor [Prof. nadzw. dr hab.] Zbigniew Wawer, Director of the Royal Łazienki Museum, passed away. "I can’t find the words that could express the immensity of the loss. A loss for culture, for all of us. An outstanding museologist and a wonderful, warm person. I express my condolences to the family and loved ones. Goodbye, Zbyszek!" – these are the words with which the Deputy Prime Minister, Professor Piotr Gliński, bid the Director farewell.

Zbigniew Wawer was a museologist and military historian – an eminent expert on the uniforms and insignia of Polish military units in Second World War. From October 2011, he was associate professor at the Institute of Social Policy and International Relations at the Koszalin University of Technology.

In the years 2012-2016, he was Director of the Polish Army Museum in Warsaw. It was during his term of office that the Katyń Museum, Martyrdom Department of the Polish Army Museum at the Warsaw Citadel, was opened. From March 2017, he served as acting director of the Royal Łazienki Museum in Warsaw, and in 2018, he was appointed Director of the institution. He was a member of the Council for Museums and Places of National Remembrance and the Council for the Protection of Heritage Monuments at the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, as well as the Museum Councils at Józef Piłsudski Museum in Sulejówek, Kazimierz Pulaski Museum in Warka, the Regional Museum in Kutno, the Museum of Sochaczew Land and the Battlefield of the Bzura in Sochaczew.

Zbigniew Wawer was the author of several dozen book publications, including the monograph Monte Cassino – the most complete Polish work on the battle and the work Army of General Władysław Anders in the USSR 1941-1942, co-author of the books Polish Army in World War II, 2nd Polish Corps, Bologna 1945. The last battle of the soldiers of 2nd Polish Corps and their post-war fate, as well as academic articles on Polish history and the military, and popular science publications for Rzeczypospolita, Mówią Wieki, Poligon or Wojsko Polskie – Hachette. He also became known as the author of numerous scripts for historical films. He was the scriptwriter, co-executive producer and author of the commentary to the documentary As long as in our hearts (Dopóki w sercach naszych) about the history of the Polish Institute and General Sikorski Museum in London. Owing to the production of the film, he was granted the title of member of the Brotherhood of the Golden Sabre as the only person residing in Poland.

Professor Zbigniew Wawer was the initiator of many excellent exhibitions, of which the following should be mentioned in particular: ‘The Great War 1914-1918. The Real End of the Belle Époque’, ‘Usque ad finem. Prince Józef Poniatowski in the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig’, ‘Forgotten Heroes. Battle of Britain 1940, Tobruk 1941. On the 75th anniversary of the battles of the Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade in the defence of the desert fortress’, ‘The splendour of orders in the 100th anniversary of regaining independence’, ‘Virtuti Militari’, ‘Splendour of power. The Wettin family on the throne of the Polish Commonwealth’, ‘Masterpieces for the King? Rubens, Van Dyck, Teniers II from the collection of Dulwich Picture Gallery’.

He was awarded with numerous distinctions for his oeuvre, including the Officer’s Cross of Polonia Restituta, the Pro Bono Poloniae Medal, the Dutch Officer’s Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau, the Finnish Order of the White Rose of 4th Class, the Order of Merit of 3rd Class of the Ministry of Defence of Estonia, the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Hungary, the Cross of Merit of 1st Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Commandery of the Cross of Recognition of the Republic of Latvia.

Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and loved ones who are suffering a painful loss.

Mr Director, we will miss you very much! You will remain forever in our Memory as a good person and a great patriot.

Funeral ceremonies for Professor Zbigniew Wawer, Director of the Royal Łazienki Museum, will be conducted on 29 December 2022 in Warsaw.