Complex conservation of Aula Leopoldine – one of the most important conservation challenges of the beginning of the 21st century
Aula Leopoldine is one of the most well-preserved secular Baroque interiors in Silesia, and its decoration – executed in the years 1731-1732 – is considered one of the most beautiful not only in Silesia, but in all of Central Europe.
Dominating panorama of the Old Town, the main building of the University of Wrocław (Collegium Maximum), constructed and decorated between 1728 and 1740, is today a landmark of Wrocław and one of the most valuable Baroque monuments in Europe. To fully appreciate and understand the ideological message of the building and its interiors, it is essential to know that in its rich history Silesia, together with its capital Wrocław, was under Czech, Austrian, German and Polish influence, and that the Leopoldine Hall, like other monuments in Wrocław, is the common heritage of many nations.
As the most representative interior of the main building of the University of Wrocław – the only one preserved in an almost unchanged form and at the same time fulfilling its original function – Aula serves not only the University but also other universities in Wrocław and many institutions, as it is here that the most important ceremonies for the academic community are held. As part of the Museum of the University of Wrocław, Aula Leopoldine is the second – after the Racławice Panorama – most frequently visited museum space in Wrocław. In 2017, despite significant difficulties and restrictions caused by ongoing conservation works, it was visited by over 120,000 people (compared to over 100,000 people in 2015 and over 140,000 in 2016).
The difficult and complicated fate of the university over the past three centuries, the damage to the main building caused by warfare, as well as the restoration works carried out in the past, have led to a reduction in the attractiveness of this remarkable interior. In the first decade of the 21st century, it became necessary to undertake thorough, comprehensive conservation and restoration work. Their aim is to stop the destructive processes and to restore the Baroque masterpiece to its original character and splendour. Experts agree that the complex conservation of the Leopoldine Hall is one of the most interesting conservation challenges of the 21st century.
Text and design: Kamilla Jasińska
Scientific and technical consultation concerning conservation processes: prof. Jan Harasimowicz, dr Łukasz Krzywka, Anna Mossler, Wit Podczerwiński, Anna Pater-Luty
Photos: Dominika Hull, Marcin Fajfruk, Anna Mossler, Kamilla Jasińska, Łukasz Krzywka
Photos from as-built documentation: Roland Róg, Agata Warszewska
Archival photos from 1893: University Library of Wrocław