The aims of the 2nd Congress of Polish Conservators are on one hand, providing critical reflection on the state of realization of proposals and postulates of the Polish conservation circles (which were contained in the RESOLUTION of the 1st Congress and unanimously accepted by its members) and on the other, the evaluation of accomplishments and focusing on new challenges and problems linked to protection of cultural heritage. The challenges and problems in question emerged during the recent accelerated social and economic development, which is rather unprecedented in our history. Facing such requirements, posed by our future, we have to very carefully preserve the heritage as bearer of national consciousness and cultural identity, as well as an essential factor of the aforementioned development.
In spite of the unquestionable accomplishments in modernisation and optimisation of the legal and organisational structure of heritage protection and in its financial mechanisms, which were achieved both by the state and self-governmental authorities, there is still a lot to be done, especially in the light of the changing circumstances and emerging threats. We have to be aware that the unprecedented socio-economic growth requires the implementation of innovative tools. They have to be mastered while we have to apply effective means of protection so as not to inhibit the development but to steer it towards the integration of heritage with the contemporary needs of our society in a synergic manner. Thus an unconventional legal and financial framework is required, as well as a revolutionised system of elementary education and social acceptance of universal values that are inherent in cultural heritage.
The elaboration of the innovative, strategic document known as the National Programme of Care and Protection of Monuments for the years 2014-2017, is decidedly noteworthy and has to be welcomed. It was prepared by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the General Conservator of Monuments and it was accepted by the Government. Undoubtedly, it is a chance for both the effective and rational activities for protection of our cultural heritage. One of the key issues that were postulated by the conservation circles is the foreseen commencing of legislative procedures aiming at detaching of state conservation service from the dependence on the governmental regional structures. Further issue is the diagnose of the state of preservation of immoveable monuments and the ordering of the [state] register of monuments.
2nd Congress seems to be the most adequate forum for discussion on the details of the aforementioned solutions and on the quest for a differentiated methodological approach to protection of immoveable monuments (based on a modern system of their evaluation). Given that the socio-economic development of Poland after 1989 and the new financial perspective of the EU for the years 2015-2020 may be the source of the further, necessary modernisation of Poland and of transformation of the space that we live in, we hope that the 2nd Congress shall define new principles of protection of monuments. Moreover, that it will define new principles of protection of heritage and influence social mentality thus allowing for positive answers to the key questions:
Can we effectively protect our heritage and not tame the progress at the same time?
Are we able to maintain the harmonious and sustainable development and not lose our cultural heritage?
Is it possible while retaining the traditional doctrine of conservation and conventional methods and solutions?
Or perhaps the time has come to revise the accepted doctrine and its clichés – revise them in a rational manner, adequate for the new models, tools and means that serve the effective protection of our cultural heritage?
2nd Congress of Polish Conservators should also initiate the legislative, systemic and methodological changes, creating effective basis for heritage protection and allowing for their full integration with the requirements of the future. Evaluating our activities – and lack thereof – in the context of the aforementioned dynamic socio-economic development, one should agree with the optimistic view that was uttered by Roberto Pane in Warsaw, as early as in the 1960s. He held that negative results in heritage protection are solely the consequence of our ‘attitude of resignation and conformism’.