The Warsaw Surveying Company WPG was established as a state-owned company in 1950. Forty-five years after, it was converted into a joint-stock company. Apart from doing typical jobs in classical surveying, photogrammetry, and cartography, the company also committed itself to cultural heritage protection from its very beginning. In 1971, a team of highly experienced specialists received the management’s permission to make a photogrammetric documentation of the Royal Castle in Warsaw. The work was done free of charge as contribution to that heritage and it became very important for the later careful reconstruction of many details of the Castle, a symbol of Polish statehood destroyed by the Nazis during World War II.

Further experience in this field was gained from work on the photogrammetric documentation of the towns of Zamość, Kraków, and 107 shepherd’s huts in the Tatra Mountains which were afterwards entered in the list of protected historical objects. Other achievements of WPG in the areas related to culture and museums include the reconstruction of a drawing of King Jan III Sobieski’s stage coach done for the Museum in Wilanów. The few surviving fragments of the stage coach were re-used as parts of what is known as the Rostrum of Radacz, now in the collection of the Castle Museum of Słupsk.

As the documentation projects became more frequent, the company invented a method for filing its output in a way ensuring the completeness of documents kept in the archives. We can see today that this fact was the actual inspiration for having WPG S.A.’s Surveying Museum which was opened at the company premises on December 14, 2007. The ceremony of official opening was performed by WPG S.A. President Ryszard Brzozowski.

The beginnings of the Museum, however, date back to 1997 when WPG S.A. Management Board issued Instruction No. 7/97 on March 6, 1997, on opening a Museum Room at the company office building because it would be a shame to get rid of equipments which were used for years by generations of surveyors. However, as early as in 1991 WPG started to collect these items with the intention to gather a set of exhibits for its own Museum.

During a dozen or so years of collecting various instruments, measurement equipment, maps, and books, the company amassed over 2,100 exhibits. The collection was also replenished by donations and purchases. The whole Museum resource can be divided into the following parts:

  • Maps
  • Surveying instruments
  • Computing machines, drawing instruments, accessories used in office work
  • Manuals and other scientific aids.

All the exhibits have been catalogued and their back-ups were made.

It is important to note that over centuries geodetic measurements have been devised for the purpose of producing adequate documentation of existing buildings and developed areas. Geodetic and cartographic techniques have played an important role in the spatial development of towns. Many great architects, known to us as authors of monumental buildings, were also the engineers who did the measurement works. This group of architects includes, for example, such great names as, Jakub Fontana, Jakub Kubicki, Jan Chrystian Kamsetzer, Dominik Merlini. Their spatial arrangements of towns are not only perfect in technical terms but they also have high artistic value and are recognized as true pieces of art. Great artistic value is also attributed to Lindley’s excellent cartographic maps of Warsaw made on the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. These items should be accessible to a broader public not only in the Archives but rather as a proper museum exhibition.

Museums of this type protect for the community many priceless objects that illustrate the development of the trade, such as, unique tools, measurement instruments, and research equipment—all of them very well presenting the past technological thought.

The idea is to make sure that the future generations will be aware that all human skills, not just man’s technical abilities but also all human culture, developed in close connection with the improvement of tools.

The WPG S.A. Museum offers a living exhibition which is changed occasionally to present all the exhibits whose number prevents showing them all in the available exhibition space. This is why, apart from the permanent collection, visitors may see interesting special temporary exhibitions presenting the daily work of a surveyor and cartographer and various cartographic products in the form of maps of many Polish towns and of the whole country.

We hope the WPG S.A. Museum will find its due place in the list of permanent industrial museums and will excellently perform its intended cognitive and educational functions, as well as provide a rare documentation of the Polish technological thought.

What is most interesting to see in each of the exhibitions?

Light box I shows: the surveyor’s workshop in the past: 19th and early 20th century

Light box II shows: the evolution and technological progress in measurement instrument in between early 19th and end of 20th century.

Light box III shows: theodolite—the basic angle-measuring tool used in urban surveying

Light box IV shows: a photogrammetric lab in the years 1955-1990

Light box V shows: precise measurement instruments (theodolites and range finders) of the late 20th and early 21st century

Light box VI shows: a sworn surveyor and his emblems, 19th and early 20th century

Light box VII shows: Polish surveying in old days—surveying equipment of the 19th and early 20th century

Light box VIII shows: surveyor’s computing machines of the 20th century

Light box IX and X shows: equipment used in mapping and map plotting, 20th century

Light box XI shows: various surveying accessories, late 20th century

Light box XII shows: a family of levelling instruments, old theodolites, signals, a photogrammetric camera, and typesetting equipment, late 19th and early 20th century

Light box XIII shows: various accessories and tools used in the surveyor’s daily work

Light box XIV shows: mapping and integration instruments, 20th century

Light box XV shows: surveying bibliography—manuals from the WPG library

Light box XVI shows: reports of the Company Centre for Technical and Economic Information on the key technological, and economic developments in the company in the years 1960-1980

Light box XVII shows: surveying bibliography—historical samples of surveyor’s reports from the WPG library

Light box XVIII shows: WPG monographs

Light box XIX shows: surveying library—instructions, guidelines, professional developments from the WPG library

Light box XX shows: surveying library—photogrammetrical library, from the WPG library

Light box XXI shows: surveying library—famous Polish surveyors, from the WPG library

Light box XXII shows: historical technological guidelines, recommendations, instructions, logarithmic tables, and trigonometric tables