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The "Anything Goes" Museum exhibition prepared by children
A group of 69 children aged 6–14 was divided into six curatorial teams. Over six months, the participants got to know the Museum and worked on the exhibition during weekly 4-hour meetings.

WARSAW.- The “Anything Goes” Museum is a museological and educational experiment – coined by the Director of the National Museum in Warsaw, Agnieszka Morawińska – in which children are responsible for preparing the main temporary exhibition at the museum’s building in Warsaw.

A group of 69 children aged 6–14 was divided into six curatorial teams. Over six months, the participants got to know the Museum and worked on the exhibition during weekly 4-hour meetings.

The teams of junior-curators prepared the scripts and selected almost 300 works to be displayed. They also provided ideas for multimedia presentations and exhibition design, designed educational leaflets, recorded audio guides, prepared captions and selected works that were to be used for promotional purposes.

The young curators got to know the entire museum team. Curators and conservators shared their knowledge about works selected by the children. The Education Department coordinated the weekly meetings, the Communication and Marketing Departments shared their know-how concerning the promotional campaign. The Publishing Department supported the junior-curators in the preparation of texts accompanying the exhibition. A book, written mainly by children, will also be published to summarize the activities surrounding the exhibition.

The selection of themes and exhibits may be surprising. Juxtaposing works from different eras and cultural circles illustrates the children’s interests and tastes as well as the functions which – in their opinion – should be performed by an ideal museum exhibition. For the public, they have chosen a large number of mysterious objects, with encrypted information and tasks to be undertaken on the journey.

A Forest
Exhibition of the orange group

This part of the exhibition is devoted to the world of animals. Children tried to answer questions about what we have in common with animals, and what divides us. Domestication, friendship, husbandry, the attribution of divine characteristics… These are just some of the aspects presented in the room. Animal mummies from Egypt, Indian statues of animal-headed deities, sirens and harpies painted by Jacek Malczewski are juxtaposed with china figurines from Meissen and Copenhagen as well as examples of 20th century art.

Dance of the Minotaur
Exhibition of the red group

The design of the exhibition alludes to a labyrinth. In order to find the exhibits, we have to move along winding corridors and dead-end rooms. In doing so, we are guided by animals depicted in both ancient and 20th21st-century objects. The displayed works include a relief decoration in the form of a bull’s head (protome) created over three thousand years ago and ceramic plates with representations of animals by Pablo Picasso. The story of King Minos and the Minotaur is be told by a film set in these parts of the Museum that are unknown to the general public (the attic, basements and technical workshops).

The Ghost Room
Exhibition of the grey group

The objective of the junior-curators was to scare the visitors. The children selected gloomy and disturbing works by such artists as Jan Matejko, Jacek and Rafał Malczewski, Adam Chmielowski, Bolesław Biegas, Zdzisław Beksiński and Jerzy DudaGracz. Visitors are going to see séances, deserted cemeteries, skulls, tombs and mysterious landscapes with ghosts and circling vultures. The main protagonist of this room is a mad collector. The atmosphere of terror will be emphasized by alarming sounds and an interactive screening that will bring some elements of the paintings to life.

Playing the Hero
Exhibition of the yellow group

Who is a hero for children in the 21st century? The exhibition of the yellow group presents 32 heroes selected from among saints, mythological characters and historical personalities. We will also see a pair of antiheroes: Miss Poland who stole her crown and a toreador portrayed by Francisco de Goya. In the centre of the room, we will find a large multimedia crossword — when solved, it will reveal the main motto of this part of the exhibition.

Treasure Trove
Exhibition of the blue group

The children compared the museum to a treasure trove, and found over 50 unique objects in its storerooms. Access to the treasures is guarded by a lioness and a dragon, and inside we may admire exhibits gleaming with silver, gold and precious stones. They come from various corners of the world: Syria, Egypt, the Far East... The display includes figures of deities associated with wealth and good fortune — there is the mythical goose from Thailand or the Chinese dragon of hidden treasures. The exhibition is complemented by children’s statements on treasures, hiding and looking for them as well as what constitutes a true, priceless treasure in life.

Exhibition of the green group

Does fashion entail suffering? What did the clothes of ancient sportsmen look like? Was a sword always used to fight? Who was the Polish Dior? The answers to these questions may be found in works gathered at the exhibition, such as an ancient statue with a characteristic hairstyle, the so-called “wasps’ nest”. There will be no shortage of original dresses, jodhpurs and shirts, and even a collection of footwear: starting from Chinese lotus shoes — testimony to the cruel tradition of foot binding, through 18th and 19th century shoes, to the famous slippers handpainted by Henryk Stażewski and plastic sandals from the 1980s collection designed by Barbara Hoff.

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