The conference was held on November 19-22, 2018 under the slogan Let's meet and exchange experiences! The conference was organized by the Cracow Saltworks Museum in Wieliczka and cooperation with the "Wieliczka" Salt Mine and the Bochnia Salt Mine. The first joint project of these three places, creating Cracow Saltworks for centuries, was initiated by the director of the Museum - Jan Godłowski.
The conference was held in locations showing the beauty of mining heritage: the Alfons Długosz Chamber and Kazanów Chamber in the Wieliczka Salt Mine, the Ważyn Chamber in the Bochnia Salt Mine and the Saltworks Castle in Wieliczka. The conference attracted participants from 18 states (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, France, Germany, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Sweden, Hungary, Italy, the United Kingdom and United States). They represented institutions operating underground mining museums and tourist routes in mines of various resources: salt, coal, silver and gold, copper, iron, mercury, zinc, lead and slate. The conference was attended by international organizations, such as: the UNESCO, the TICCIH – International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage, the ICOM – International Council of Museums and the ICOMOS – International Council on Monuments and Sites. The Chair of the Honorary Committee of the conference, Prof. Dr. hab. Piotr Gliński, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Culture and National Heritage, was represented by Dr. hab., Prof. of the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Magdalena Gawin, Deputy Minister of Culture and National Heritage and the General Conservator of Historical Objects.
Lectures were given among others by: Suay Aksoy – President of the ICOM; Peter Debrine – manager of key projects in the UNESCO, Barry Gamble – an expert in world industrial heritage who has successfully promoted entries of mining objects in the UNESCO List (recently, the silver mine in Tarnowskie Góry); Professor Helmuth Albrecht from the Boards of TICCIH and ICOMOS, Professor Roger Burt – recently manager in the IMHC (International Mining History Congress) and MHA in the USA (Mining History Association), and Dr. Margaret Faull – President of the Network of Coal Mining Museums. The conference took place in a year of important anniversaries for the Polish mining industry: the 650th anniversary of the Articles of Cracow Saltworks (1368) and the 500th anniversary of A Short but Precise Description of Management and Relations in Wieliczka and Bochnia Saltworks in 1518. The original documents were displayed in the Saltworks Castle. All participants in the conference, inhabitants of Wieliczka and lovers of archive objects could see them.
Other important anniversaries were also celebrated during the year: the 40th anniversary of entry of the Wieliczka Salt Mine in the First UNESCO World Heritage List (1978) and the 5th anniversary of addition to the entry of the Bochnia Salt Mine and the Saltworks Castle in Wieliczka. The first celebratory conference session in the Długosz Chamber was dedicated to those anniversaries. The 100th anniversary of restoration of Poland’s independence was commemorated during the conference by the opening of exhibition named “On the Way to Independence” in the Wieliczka mine. Importantly, both the conference and the exhibition were held under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture as part of the Multi-annual Programme named “Niepodległa” (the Independent). In line with the motto of the event (“Let us meet and share our experience”), the conference provided the participants with a platform where to get to know each other, share practical knowledge acquired in organizing routes and overcoming various difficulties but also to proudly display successes achieved.
All participants were enabled to show their objects on illustrated posters. About 40 lectures were given during the conference and each session included an interesting debate. The Cracow Saltworks Museum announced its initiatives that might become important for the entire museum community: the idea of compiling an International Catalogue of Good Practices for mining museums and underground tourist routes in mines, and the idea of establishment of a mining museum section as part of the ICOM. The conference provided the guests with an excellent opportunity for becoming familiar with the mining heritage of Wieliczka and Bochnia, visiting both mines, the Saltworks Castle and the Wieliczka graduation tower. They were under a strong impression created by all objects, emphasised the richness of heritage preserved to date, an interesting way of its presentation and great care given by the hosts to conservation of historical objects. They also enjoyed the extraordinary multimedia show named “Wieliczka 1860” held in the impressive Maria Teresa Chamber in the Museum area.
Opinions about the conference expressed by the participants were very favourable. They emphasised the high level of contents and organization of the event. They also suggested the need to organize another meeting, assuring that they would be pleased to participate. The organizers greatly appreciated smiles on the guests’ faces and the strong feeling that the event contributed to integration of the community. The next conference is scheduled for 2021, and preparations for the event with work on the Catalogue of Good Practices will begin in the new year.
The Cracow Saltworks Museum in Wieliczka is a beneficiary in the Multi-annual Programme named “NIEPODLEGŁA” (THE INDEPENDENT) for the years 2017-2021, adopted by the government of Poland. The Museum received co-financing for organization of the conference from the funds of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage as part of the programme.
We cordially invite you to the next conference, ICMUM Wieliczka-Zabrze, which will take place on May 22-25, 2023.