International Cultural Centre in Cracow
The ICC has the status of a national institution of culture* active in the fields of research, education, publishing and exhibitions. It pursues its mission of public diplomacy by facilitating international cultural dialogue, taking Central Europe as the point of departure for its action and thought on heritage.
The byword in all our areas of work is interdisciplinarity. We are active in many fields, combining differing points of view and leveraging the achievements of many disciplines in order to pass on our knowledge on cultural heritage in the universal dimension as broadly and as cohesively as possible.
*a governmental institution financed directly by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage
Main themes: cultural heritage theory and management, the phenomenon of memory, the art and cultural space of Central Europe, intercultural dialogue, the city as a mirror for civilisation, cultural policy and the economics of culture.
Central Europe is the point of departure and point of reference for all our projects. It is through the prism of our geographical location and by comparison with our neighbours, both immediate and more distant, that we observe the processes unfolding at the intersection of culture, heritage, art, politics, economics and social phenomena. This is the angle adopted by our quarterly periodical, Herito, and it is also discernible in our research projects, the programmes of the conferences we host, and the publications we produce.
One form of international activity that is especially close to us is our cooperation with our partners in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. In line with a decision taken by the ministers of culture of the Visegrad Group, every year we organise a specialist summer school, Management of UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Sites in Visegrad Countries, and every other year the ICC also hosts a major international conference, the Central Europe Heritage Forum, which brings together the region’s heritage experts, as well as specialists from across the globe with a scientific interest in this part of the European continent.
Our activity on the international scene is a key aspect, but not the only form of our work. We are equally active on the local level, with a busy programme for those who come to us. The space designated for these projects is the historic Ravens House at 25 Rynek Główny, the square that is the heart of Krakow’s Old Town complex as inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1978. This is truly a place that invites reflection on heritage.
Even as in our offices we are at work on projects not visibly evident to our audiences on a day-to-day basis, the ICC Gallery always has an exhibition that is open to the general public. The exhibitions we stage are designed to showcase the best that the European and world avant-garde has to offer – again with a strong accent on Central European art – or to examine a theme of contemporary importance in culture and art. The ICC’s seat also houses a specialist scientific library of Polish and foreign literature from the field of cultural heritage. Our conference rooms are used to host lectures, meetings, debates and our impressive educational programmes for groups of all ages, including our post-graduate study course the Academy of Heritage.
Our target audiences
We operate a range of programmes designed for many different target groups because we believe it important for as broad a swathe of society as possible to have the opportunity to experience various dimensions of cultural heritage. The ICC’s work is aimed at audiences both abroad and in Poland, from scholars and experts at the one extreme to those just embarking on their adventure with heritage at the other. Many of our projects are run in English, and many of our books, as well as our quarterly magazine Herito, are published in bilingual Polish and English editions, as a way of ensuring communication with our foreign audiences.
The ICC was an initiative of the first Polish government after the fall of Communism. Its creation was unveiled by prime minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki at the Paris Summit of the Conference of Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE)* in November 1990, as the new architecture of Europe was taking shape. Its activity was inaugurated in May 1991 during the CSCE Symposium on cultural heritage held in Krakow. It was the first new-generation public institution of culture to be created in Poland after the watershed year 1989. It is no accident that Krakow was chosen as the location for its seat – this city is a laboratory of Polish thinking on heritage. From the outset we have been based in the historic medieval townhouse The Ravens House in the heart of the Old Town, which in both literal and metaphorical terms is Krakow’s window on Central Europe.
* (now the OSCE – Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe)