Four Domes Pavilion

photo: WFF Wrocław

The Pavilion was built in Wrocław at the beginning of the 20th century on the exhibition area in the eastern part of the city (Breslauer Messe A.G.), which, together with the nearby Centennial Hall (former Peoples’ Hall) and other accompanying objects (the Pergola and the Japanese Garden), was the venue for the last pre-war international trade fair, which took place as late as May 1939. The Pavilion was built according to Hans Poelzig’s project between August 1912 and February 1913 by Schlesische Beton Baugesellschaft.

After World War II, in 1948, the Regained Territories Exhibition was organised there. It was a series of propaganda exhibitions and events which presented the accomplishments in rebuilding the territories received by Poland after the war. The Four Domes Pavilion opened with a Vestibule of Victory – opposite the entrance, against some lances, two huge swords of Grunwald (Tannenberg) were displayed; on the floor there were remains of broken and corrugated German weapons and military flags. A series of exhibitions and lectures was intended to summarise three years of existence of the Ministry of Regained Territories, led by Władysław Gomułka. On the occasion, a steel Spire, which is still standing, was constructed, as well as a high tower made of ordinary galvanized buckets, which were supposed to symbolise the post-war rebuilding of industry. The exhibition lasted 100 days and around 2 million people attended it, including the participants in the World Congress of Intellectuals for the Protection of Peace, who represented 46 countries. The exhibition was a huge propaganda success, and for Wrocław it became a chance to facilitate the process of putting it back in order and to open some restored buildings to the general public.

Since 1952 the Four Domes Pavilion has been owned by the Wrocław Feature Films Studio (Wytwórnia Filmów Fabularnych, WFF), initially as a branch of the Łódź film studio and after the 1954 as an independent state institution. The first film shot in the Studio in 1954 was Maria Kaniewska’s ‘Niedaleko Warszawy’. Since then about a quarter of all Polish post-war films has been made there. In its heyday, film directors such as Lenartowicz, Chęciński, Has, Holland, Kawalerowicz, Kieślowski, Pogański, Kutz and Wajda made there films in the Studio, among them: ‘The Saragossa Manuscript’, ‘Knife in the Water’, ‘Ashes and Diamonds’, ‘The Eighth Day of the Week’. Nowadays WFF produces documentaries and feature films; in 2006 Peter Greeneway’s ‘Nightwatching’, a British-Dutch-Polish co-production, was shot here.

Unfortunately, most of production areas located in the Four Domes Pavilion has been damaged significantly with the passing of time and needs deep regeneration. In 2011 the building will be modernized. The newly renovated Pavilion will host an exhibition of contemporary Polish art from the collection of the Wrocław National Museum.

Text: SURVIVAL Art Review,

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