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The Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences PAU

The Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences PAU

The Past

The Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded in 1872 as a result of transformation of The Krakow Scientific Society that had functioned since 1815. Although its activity was formally allowed only within the territory of the Austrian partition, it fulfilled, from the beginning, the role of a national scientific and cultural institution. Its activity went beyond the Austrian partition embracing researchers from all over Poland and many other countries. The Academy radiated far outside the borderds of the partitions - in 1893 it was entrusted the collections of The Polish Library in Paris, the largest collection of Polish histrorical materials accumulated by the Great Emigration. Its outpost was created in Paris and even earlier the Roman Expedition had been initiated (annual visits to the Roman archives).

After the Great War it was renamed as the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences, it became an independent from the state official representative of the Polish science, both in the country and in relations with international scientific organizations as a founder member of Union Academique Internationale. The interwar period was the time of the most intense activity of the Academy, above all, publishing (over a hundred series of publications, among them a monumental edition of Polski Słownik Biograficzny [Polish Bigraphical Dictionary]. A Research Station in Rome was established.

The same activity was continued after the German occupation until 1952 when its branches and property were taken over by the authorities and made over to the newly established Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. Yet PAU was not dissolved so its activity could be resumed just after the system transformation in 1989.

Immediatley the structures and branches of PAU were being reconstructed. Firstly the Departments were reestablished. The members of The Krakow Branch of PAN were appointed authomaticly so the former Mathematics and Natural History Department had to be devided. In result since May 1990 PAU has had five Departments: I - Philological, II - Historical - Philosophical, III - Mathematical - Physical - Chemical, IV - Natural Science, and V - Medical. In March 1993 Department VI, of Artistic Creativity, was set up. Already in 1990 PAU resumed its publishing activity, starting with The PAU Annual and "The Reports of activities and sessions". Subsequently "The Treatises" started to appear. Successively, beginning with the Middle Europe Commission that was established in 1991, new commissions have been created according to the needs. Nowadays PAU consists of 24 commissions.

On the 24th June 2006 the Academy had 487 members, including 152 active ones, 158 corresopnding members and 177 foreign members. Each one is actively engaged in the Polish science. The Academy has also chosen four honorary members: John Paul II, Jan Nowak-Jeziorański, Władysław Bartoszewski and cardinal Franciszek Macharski.

The Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences Today

Nowadyas the scientific activity of PAU focuses mainly in commissions. There are 24 subject commissions, functioning in various Departments, and some interdepartamental commissions as well. They all publish their treatises, which results in a serious publishing avctivity - several dozen volumes a year. PAU has also at its disposal a research base for the humanities. The Library collection that has been accumulated for two hundred years contains many valuable historical and scientific materials, including periodicals from 19th and 20th century as well a wonderful Cabinet of Drawings. The Archive, which beginnings go back to the times of The Krakow Scientific Society, is a precious source for the historians. Recently in result of an agreenment with The Historical and Literary Society in Paris PAU regained the ownership of the Polish Library. The reorganization of this institution, so meritorious for the country, is now in progress.

Apart from purly scientific research the important role of the Academy is to create a forum for discussions among scholars of various discplines. In the present world of narrow specialities it is very important. Some of the interdepartamental commissions of a general character proceed in this direction.The Commission of History of Science publishes many extremly interesting works, including series about prominent representatives of science, and - basing on the Archives collection - organizes exibitions and events dedicated to them. The Commission on Threats of Civilization, gathering specialists in the humanities and in natural science, discusses a wide range of problems of the contemporary world, from technical to ideological threats. The Commission on the Evaluation of Textbooks reviews school coursesbooks presently published, pointing the attention of public opinion and of the authorities to this imporatnt issue and trying to improve the present, almost tragic situation. The European Commission discusses issues connected with Poland's participation in the European Union, and also the structure and the future of the Union itself. The Commission of Technical Sciences and The Commission of Economical Sciences have started functioning recently.

There is also the PAU and PAN Commission for the Development of the City of Cracow, founded together with The Krakow Branch of PAN (Polish Academy of Sciences). It aims at presenting a common stance of the academic circles of Krakow on the matters vital for the development.of the city.

Since 2002 a monthly PAU Seminar has been held. It gathers 100-200 members on every occasion, prominent authorities deliver lectures, mainly in the field of the humanities. The leading theme of the first period was "Patriotism yesterday and today". The first two volumes of lectures were published. The seminar has slowely been gaining an established position in the intellectual life of Krakow and has become a forum for discussions on the challenges of the epoch.

Referring to the tradition of Open Lectures, the Academy has also started, in cooperation with the daily "Dziennik Polski", a series of events called "A Scientific Cafe". These are academic discussions for general public. This initiative has won a significant place among the cultural events in Krakow.

PAU awards a few scientific prizes. The Tadeusz Browicz annual prize in medicine, every two years the Marian Mięsowicz prize in physics and once in sevedral years the Marian Kukiela prize in military science. Moreover, according to the resolution of the City Council of Krakow, the President of PAU is assigned chairman of the Board of the City of Krakow Awards and he designates three (out of twelve) members of the Board. Finally, every five years PAU grants nine Mikołaj Kopernik prizes founded by the City of Krakow.

The future plans concentrate on systematic widening of research works, mainly in the fields of the humanities and social sciences. In the further perspective the extension of the Library is also necessary, which obviously requires considerable funds. However the most importatnt task is to gather around the Academy scientific and intellectual circles that could discuss important problems of the present and offer solutions. In this way - referring to the tradition - Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences wants to regain its histotical position as a National Institution.


Manuscripts kept in the library:

Variations in E major on a German National Air [op. posth.]; Public autograph

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