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Once Upon a Time on the Baltic Sea. Gdynia of the 1920s of the 20th Century on Roman Morawski's camera (230 objects)

The port of Gdynia and the city which was constructed simultaneously were among the key Polish economic endeavours of the 20th century. Many photographers from all over the country made sure the process was well documented. Roman Morawski (1883-1931) was one of them. The photographer and trader from Lviv came to Gdynia in 1921. Unfortunately, we have not been able to determine his earlier fate. The Lviv address books indicate that a trader with an identical name worked in the city and ran a mercer’s shop in 2 Sykstuska Street. However, it is uncertain whether it was the same person.

Roman Morawski was probably the first photographer to settle in Gdynia permanently. In 2 Starowiejska Street he opened Gdynia’s first stationary and office supplies wholesale company. He also ran a tobacco products wholesale and retail outlet in the same place. He was one of the founders of the Independent Traders Association in Gdynia. Apart from being a trader, he was a photographer too. In 71 Szosa Gdańska (today’s Morska Street) he ran a photography studio – formally, it was registered in his wife Seweryna’s name. He died on 12th December 1931 and was buried in the Witomino cemetery.

He is the author of multiple photographic postcards with views of Gdynia, including the port being built. His work documented the scenes from the city’s and its inhabitants’ lives as well as the establishment and development of the Polish Navy or the fleet of warships. You can also see those who were building the port and the city – from the anonymous workers and seamen, through those who represented local administration to the dignitaries who were visiting Gdynia. The 330 of his photographic postcards by Roman Morawski which belong to Gdynia City Museum’s collection allow to examine the process of Gdynia’s transformation from a village into a large city and port.

It is a certain paradox that we only know Roman Morawski who took hundreds of photos from two rather blurry pictures which are a part of the Gdynia City Museum’s collection. Both the photographer’s biography and his likeness still remain a mystery to us.

The collection of the digitalised objects accompanies the exhibition “Once Upon a Time on the Baltic Sea. Gdynia of the 1920s of the 20th century in Roman Morawski’s Camera” which was co-financed by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage.