Leon Barszczewski — pioneer of travel photography - Muzeum Pamięci Sybiru

25 October 2023

Leon Barszczewski — pioneer of travel photography

We invite you to the last meeting this year in the series combining travel and creativity broadening knowledge about Siberia.

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On November 9 at 6:00 p.m., Igor Strojecki, varsavianist, genealogy enthusiast, author of the book „Utracony świat. Podróże Leona Barszczewskiego po XIX-wiecznej Azji Środkowej” (“The Lost World. Leon Barszczewski’s Travels in 19th-Century Central Asia”) will be a guest of the Sybir Memorial Museum.

The speaker is a relative of several extraordinary personalities, including: a scientist and inventor, Julian Ochorowicz and an outstanding actress, Elżbieta Barszczewska. His great-grandfather — Leon Barszczewski, is the character of the meeting in the Sybir Memorial Museum.

This future traveler and photographer was born in 1849 into a patriotic family involved in the November and January Uprisings. As a result of reprisals, the Barszczewski family lost their family fortune and young Leon was take into the “government care” and sent to military schools.

In 1876, Barszczewski was sent as a volunteer to Central Asia — to the Emirate of Bukhara, located under the Russian protectorate (today’s Uzbekistan).

There he combined military service in the topographical unit with the development of his own interests. From Samarkand, which became his new home, he traveled on business to various parts of the country, where he explored not only the terrain and geological conditions, but also the local flora and fauna. He was getting familiar with the local culture with commitment.

During his expeditions, Barszczewski discovered deposits including: gold, coal and oil and semi-precious stones.

The fruit of his amateur research in many fields (including geography, glaciology, archaeology, biology, ethnography and anthropology) were thousands of photos and a large collection, which initiated the Museum of Arts of Uzbekistan.

Barszczewski was appreciated as a photographer, among the awards he received was a golden medal at the exhibition in Paris (in 1895).

Nearly 3,500 photos have survived from his rich photographic archive. Some of them will be presented during the meeting at the Sybir Memorial Museum.

Igor Strojecki’s lecture will be preceded by the presentation of the Exhibit of the Month at 5:00 p.m. — Leon Barszczewski’s great-grandson will talk about the souvenirs of his great-grandfather brought to Białystok. Tickets for the meeting are available at the Museum’s ticket office and online.



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