Historical-artistic workshops

Historical-artistic workshops 2008–2017

Each year between 2008 and 2017, our Museum organised a historical-artistic workshop for children. The project – open air, day-care and supervision – was prepared to cater to the growing need to popularise archaeology and increase knowledge about the statutory heritage preservation requirements. Our idealistic premise was to educate the Public, to make them aware of the historical space around it, to help them understand it; as a result, the Public would respect said historical environment and accordingly shape their attitude towards archaeologists’ work and archaeological sites.

When designing the programme, we drew upon extensive experience of our colleagues in Germany (Kreisjugendring Centre in Kirchheim), who follow pedagogical principles laid out by Rudolf Steiner. Two points in his methodology were of particular note to us:

  • The assumption that children up to twelve years of age think figuratively, not abstractly. Hence, one should use simple yet suggestive methods to build a specific space allowing children to explore the subject at hand.
  • The principle of combining different types of activity – intellectual, physical and manual – all of which are natural manners of expression for children of such age.

The project was carried out regularly, always in the first week of the summer vacations. Each day, children spent seven hours at the workshop. Each year’s event attracted some sixty participants whom we then split into three age groups, assigning them different tasks appropriate for their level of perception.

The programme for each day was designed as to combine various complementary activities – a lecture illustrated with a re-enactment or original artefacts, hands-on experience (e.g. moulding clay), games and sports based upon ancient examples, theatrical activities.

Individual workshop activities were like parts of a puzzle. The participants first experienced a fragment included in the programme for the day, were fed pieces of information which, at the end of the cycle, added up to create a larger whole.

The artistic aspect was an extremely important element of the workshops – the children were thus involved in a creative process, crafting simple everyday-use items such as jewellery or pouches, or taking part in more elaborate activates, such as using simple, natural tools to raise a full-scale dwelling. Theatrical activities were a daily fixture up to the final, open-access day, when the participants presented the show they had prepared.

We strived to make the children feel at ease, to feel that they had freedom of movement and choice of place to spend their time. Hence, we provided additional, fixed historical sites allowing self-expression or – in the case of weariness or overstimulation, or if such a need arose – temporary inactivity and rest.

In every edition we worked with re-enactment groups, vetting them carefully for represented level and capacity for working with children.

The results of our efforts were visible already after a few years. There were children who came back for subsequent editions, up to the age cut-off point. A few such regular participants, having aged out, decided to work with the Museum as volunteers, taking part in further editions, at the same time expanding their knowledge and passing on what they already knew to their younger colleagues. Even today – as adults – they stay in touch with the Museum.

An additional, unique feature was the contact with parents who, through their questions, revealed not only interest in but also compassion towards people living – and working hard – in Mazovia two thousand years ago.

The historical village became part of Pruszków’s cultural landscape, attracting growing interest from the Public, making many inhabitants learn about the Museum’s operations and discover the ancient history of western Mazovia.

Thus, we managed to bring back to life a universe which the world had forgotten.

  • 2008 – First historical-artistic workshop
    A long, long time ago …
    Everyday life in the Middle Ages – customs, traditions and material culture.
  • 2009 – Second historical-artistic workshop
    On the Amber Road
    Contacts between Rome and the world of the Barbarian North – commercial exchange and mutual impact of different cultures.
  • 2010 – Third historical-artistic workshop
    In a Settlement of Ancient Iron-Master
    What was the Mazovian Centre of Metallurgy and why was it unique? Everyday life in an ancient settlement of iron-masters
  • 2011 – Fourth historical-artistic workshop
    We, the Barbarian
    Balts, Goths and Vandals – three tribes which lived in today’s Poland some 2,000 years ago. Cultural distinctiveness as the key to development, better understanding of the world and enriching one’s own culture.
  • 2012 – Fifth historical-artistic workshop
    The Myths of Ancient Iron-Master
    Beliefs and magical rituals involved in the iron smelting. Reconstructed from archaeological finds.
  • 2013 – Sixth historical-artistic workshop 
    The Great Journey
    Trade and military routes. Diversity of ancient cultures and exchange of skills, ideas and values. On the one hand – multicultural wealth, on the other – solid grounds of own identity.
  • 2014 – Seventh historical-artistic workshop 
    King Casmir’s Feast
    Court culture and art in the 14th century. The times of King Casmir the Great, or the time of economic prosperity, castle building, founding new towns, numerous demonstrations, monetary and military reforms, as well as economic and territorial expansion.
  • 2015 – Eighth historical-artistic workshop 
    From the Olympus to the Indus with Alexander the Great
    Alexander of Macedon’s conquests and the vision of a great and united, yet multicultural state.
  • 2016 – Ninth historical-artistic workshop
    At the Roots of the Polish State
    The world of the Slavs of old – their everyday life and beliefs. Baptism of Duke Mieszko and the beginnings of the Polish state.
  • 2017 – Tenth historical-artistic workshop 
    Time of Iron
    The lands and inhabitants of today’s Mazovia over 2,000 years ago. Everyday life and labour of ancient iron makers and smiths. The secrets of smelting iron in bloomery furnaces. The relevance and uses of iron items.