This is the first permanent exhibition of amber in Gdańsk after the Second World War. It refers to the past traditions of Gdańsk. The artefacts are presented in two categories: "Amber in nature" & "Amber in culture".
The Naturalists' House
(HQ of The Archaeological Museum in Gdańsk)
AMBER IN NATURE
The topic of this part of the exhibition is the issue of origin of the amber, its deposits, identification and variants. The forms presented are the natural forms – the drip form and forms created through the gathering of resin in tree cracks, the unique forms of the Baltic Amber (succinate), as well as submerged living organisms (organic and plant inclusions). The gathered exhibits also include Tertiary deposits of the Chłapowo-Sambia delta, and from outside the region of the Baltic, Ukrainian amber and from the German Bitterfeld region. There are also some examples of Baltic amber from Quaternary deposits.
Besides the succinate and accompanying resins, one can also view other fossil resins, such as: Sakhalin amber, Dominican amber and Moravian.
The most intriguing exhibits are examples of different types of amber from the old collection of Otto Helm – a donation from Dr G. Krumbiegel from Halle/Saale. It is the last surviving fragment of the amber collection from the old Natural History and Archaeological Museum in the Free City of Gdańsk.
The gathered exhibits, for the most part, come from the collections of the Museum of the Earth in Warsaw (Polish Academy of Sciences) as well as donations and deposits of associate and non-associate amber artisans with the International Amber Association in Poland.
AMBER IN CULTURE
This part of the exhibition consists of amber artefacts and items connected to amber processing which had developed on Polish lands starting with the Stone Age, early Middle Ages and in modern times. Their simplicity moves, their innovation enraptures, they indicate an evolution of creativity, aesthetic pursue and the crafting ability as well as improving the workshop of the amber craftsmen over the centuries.
The Stone Age is represented by fragments of decorations from the end of the Palaeolithic (approx. 12 000 – 11 000 BCE), and anthropomorphic amulets connected with the fertility cult, as well as zoomorphic connected with hunting and forest magic from the Mesolithic period (mostly copies, approx. 8 000 – 4 500 BCE). A significant development in amber processing is noted to have taken place in the Neolithic (approx. 4 500 – 2 300/1 800 BCE); the indicating clue is the variety of forms of beads, pendants, amulets, these also connected to the ancestor, hero and sun cults. The exhibition also contains the equipment from an amber workshop together with tools and half products of decorations.
The Bronze Age (2 300/1 800 – 700 BCE) – the first attempts at fusing amber with metal, which is illustrated by a necklace made out of bronze wire with amber beads and pendant. This idea developed in the early Iron Age (approx. 700 – 400 BCE), when amber beads were threaded onto an iron wire and they were hung from ears of face urns.
Worthy of interest are artefacts from the so-called Roman Empire Influence period (approx. 25 – 375 CE), they originated in workshops of Kuyavia; as well as necklaces composed of amber and glass beads, a variety of silver decorations, coins and other items imported from the Roman Empire in exchange for amber, which were found in Pomeranian cemeteries.
The beginnings of amber processing in Gdańsk reach back to the early Middle Ages and are represented by the artefacts originating in amber workshops found in the Sopot Stronghold (8 – 10th century), as well as within the Gdańsk gord and borough (10 – 13th century). The presented artefacts display a large variety of amulets, crosses, decorations, and the Gdańsk speciality – rings, as well as game dice, half products and a fragment of a drill for drilling beads.
From the modern period, the presented artefacts are connected to the history of Gdańsk pharmaceutic sciences and the utilization of the medicinal properties of amber, this includes tomes from the 16 – 18th century, ex. The Domestic Medic with recipes for medicines containing amber, a glass cob for distilling amber, a copper mortar for grinding and others.
Other noteworthy examples of mass production come from the Königsberg Manufacture (1926 – 1945).
The exhibited items also include a medieval barrel used for transport as well as a modern bailer to fish out amber and a Kurpian spinning wheel used for processing.
The modern Gdańsk craft and art are represented by works of Hildegarda and Jan Podżorski, Danuta and Mariusz Gliwiński, Gabriela and Wiesława Gierłowska, Giedymin Jabłoński, Wojciech Jakubowski, Joanna Mireska-Szuleta and Irena Jackowska, Agnieszka Gut, Elżbieta Krasińska, Paulina Binek and Janusz Wosik.
The exhibits from this part of the exhibition come from the collections of the Archaeological Museum in Gdańsk, deposits of the University of Poznań and Wrocław, The Museum Chamber of Pharmaceutic Science of the Gdańsk Branch, the Polish Pharmaceutical Society as well as gifts and deposits of Gdańsk amber craftsmen.