The house of the Wydrzycki family in Stare Wasiliszki – the birthplace of Czesław Niemen
Czesław Niemen, or rather Czesław Juliusz Wydrzycki, was born on February 16, 1939 in Stare Wasiliszki in the Grodno region, which belonged to Poland at that time. The small house with a garden, situated on the outskirts of the village, was the Wydrzycki family’s home until 1958. They left for Poland as part of the last wave of the post-war expatriation of Poles from the former eastern territories of the Republic of Poland.
The Museum of Czesław Niemen was established in 2011, mainly thanks to the enthusiasm of the fans of his work, who are numerous in Belarus. The museum is located in the artist's family home, built a hundred years ago by his grandfather Jakub for his sons, Antoni and Wiktor.
Czesław Niemen was the son of Anna née Markowska and Antoni Wydrzycki. The artist's father was remembered in Stare Wasiliszki as a talented craftsman, who could also tune a piano or church organ or mend a clock.
Czesław Niemen, an extremely original singer, composer, multi-instrumentalist and author of lyrics, is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable creators of Polish music in the 20th century. His first contacts with music involved singing in school and church choirs in his home town and learning to play the bayan (a kind of accordion) and the organ; he also attended a music school in Grodno, but he was expelled for truancy, as he allegedly preferred to spend his time on the banks of the Neman River.
The collection of the museum in Stare Wasiliszki is mainly connected with the stage of the artist's life spent in the Grodno region. There are not many original memorabilia left on the site, just a few home appliances and furnishings, but the creators of the museum tried to furnish the interior to resemble a typical house in the region in the 1940s and 1950s. The stories about the life of Czesław Niemen and his family are illustrated with reproductions of photographs, documents and correspondence, album sleeves, posters from Niemen’s later performances in the Soviet Union and, last but not least, his music. The exhibition brings back the story of Niemen’s first love, Maria Klauzunik from Stare Wasiliszki, whom he married in Grodno and who moved to Poland with him. An interesting feature are the artist’s school notebooks, drawings and notes, discovered two years ago in the attic of the house, as well as some badly damaged photographs and negatives, probably taken by Niemen himself, who was passionate about photography even in his early years. Sadly, the site of the Museum, the Wydrzycki family’s old house, is currently in a bad state of repair. The Polish Embassy in Minsk and the National Institute of Polish Cultural Heritage Abroad POLONIKA have been asked to help with its restoration and the works are planned to begin in 2019.