Culture in Poznań



Poznań's Fotoplastykon

The Fotoplastykon, dubbed "the big brown drum" by the poet Zbigniew Herbert, is a device used to display stereoscopic photographs. It converts two nearly identical images into a single 3D picture by means of its optical mechanism. Every visit to the Poznań Fotoplastykon is a journey through time...

. - grafika artykułu
Fotoplastykon, photo: M. Malinowski

The prototype of the machine is the so-called stereoscopic salon. Invented by Alois Polanecky, it was shown as a mobile attraction at fairs. The first true photoplasticon, known also as the kaiserpanorama (or emperor's panorama), was constructed by August Fuhrmann in 1883.  

The origins of Poznań's Fotoplastykon are murky and mysterious. The first mention of this kaiserpanorama dates back to 1907, although it most likely does not refer to the same device that has survived to the present day. Other reports speak of a kaiserpanorama in operation in the capital of Wielkopolska since 1923, but there is no evidence to back this up.

What is certain is that the device we know today arrived in Poznań after World War II and belonged to the Silski family. Initially set up at ul. Piekary 19, it was moved to ul. Armii Czerwonej 53 (today's ul. Święty Marcin) in late 1950. In the early 1970s, the Fotoplastykon was purchased by the Poznań photographer Władysław Rut. His son, Antoni Rut, also an artist, inherited it from his father in 1982. Antoni Rut set up the "Fotoplastykon" gallery, which has been in operation since 2005. Unfortunately, with the start of the new millenium, the vintage device fell into oblivion, forcing its owner to place it in storage in a basement.

The machine was briefly displayed in the Stary Browar (Old Brewery) shopping mall during the Photography Biennale in 2009. The Poznań kaiserpanorama was brought back to life in 2014, after it was acquired by Wydawnictwo Miejskie Posnania (Posnania Municipal Publishing House). Placed initially in the Arsenał City Gallery in the Stary Rynek (Old Market Square), the Poznań Photoplasticon pleases the eye through its appearance and through its stereoscopic photographs in the historic Arkadia building on ul. Ratajczaka 44.

Marcel Skierski

translation: Krzysztof Kotkowski

  • Centrum Informacji Kulturalnej (Cultural Information Centre), ul. F. Ratajczaka 44, Poznań
  • vernissage: 5 March, 4 pm;
  • opening hours: Monday - Friday 10 am - 7 pm, Saturday 10 am - 5 pm, Sunday closed, last admission 1 hour before closing time
  • tickets: regular admission - 5 pln, reduced admission - 2 pln, family tickets - 10 pln, group tickets (groups of 10 or more) - 20 pln

© Wydawnictwo Miejskie Posnania 2019