The Society of Friends of the Polish Library in Paris
The Society of Friends of the Polish Library in Paris is a Polish non-governmental organization. Its aim is to support the preservation and popularization of the Polish cultural legacy that is kept in the Polish Library in Paris. The Library is administrated by the Historical and Literary Society in Paris (Polish: Towarzystwo Historyczno-Literackie w Paryżu) in cooperation with the Polish Academy of Learning (Polish: Polska Akademia Umiejętności) in Kraków.
The Society of Friends of the Polish Library in Paris was established in 2013 in Warsaw. Currently it has circa a dozen members who are mostly active in cultural institutions, libraries and archives.
The Polish Library in Paris, founded in 1838 is situated in the very heart of Paris on the Île Saint-Louis, on the banks of the Seine. It was established by emigrants after the November Uprising of 1830. They wanted to create an oasis of Polish culture and free political thought, a place of meetings and discussion and therefore collected valuable books and artworks, as well as documents and memorabilia of prominent Poles. Despite its name the Library today is both an archive as well as a museum.
The Mickiewicz family memorabilia collection is a precious section within the repertory of the Polish Historical and Literary Society / the Polish Library in Paris. Some of the objects—Adam Mickiewicz’s quill pen, his wife Celina’s pince-nez, or the couple’s wedding rings—are available for viewing at the Adam Mickiewicz Museum which is housed at the Library in Paris...
The numismatic collection of the Historical and Literary Society/Polish Library in Paris amounts to over one thousand items. The collection was compiled in most part after 1945 from donations of the Historical and Literary Society members as well as from several dozen medallions and medals that had been kept at the Adam Mickiewicz Museum and had survived the war. Old coins had been an integral part of the Polish Library collection since its inception, i.e. 1838.
The history of “The Great Emigration” — the grand as well as the very mundane — is told by the collections of the Polish Library in Paris that was created by the emigrants and that is still a thriving archive of Polish tradition and culture. Some of the materials presented on the exhibition — manuscripts, prints, pieces of art, photographies and memorabilia — leave the library’s storerooms for the first time.
The titular “Isle of Freedom” is the Polish Library in Paris, located on the Île Saint-Louis in the heart of the city — an oasis of independent Polish culture and political thought in the XIX and XX CE. For almost 150 years, since 1838, during the time of the Partitions of Poland until today has the Library been a place of meetings and discussions for the Polish emigrants who created the Library’s valuable book collection, collected artworks and documents.