When the Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts (Zachęta means encouragement) was established in 1860, women would not be accepted as its members for the next several decades, according to the association’s statute. Despite this, women are behind the story of the Zachęta both in the past and today. Ludwika Górecka, née Linde, was the first of them. Her generous gift – a tenement house and a plot of land at Małachowskiego Square – made it possible to extend the Gallery’s building, erected in 1900, and to support the Society financially until the outbreak of World War II. Like many women in history, the donor did not boast about her gift, remaining in the shadows and acting primarily for the benefit of Polish culture. Nevertheless, the Society decided to honour Górecka’s extraordinary generosity… by offering her honorary membership.
In the post-war history of the Zachęta, there is no shortage of strong female personalities. Gizela Szancerowa and Bożena Kowalska shaped the character of the institution then called the Central Bureau of Art Exhibitions (CBWA), creating its exhibition programme and developing modern education. Apart from Ludwika Górecka, these women are the protagonists of the research project Female patrons, visionaries, researchers. You will find their profiles in the subsequent issues of the Zachęta Online Magazine. In our last issue in 2021, we invite you to read the story of the ‘founding – mother’, Ludwika née Linde Górecka. And also, we would like to recall the artists, curators and directors thanks to whom the Zachęta still has a feminine face.