Engineer Janusz Witwicki (1903-1946), architect and architectural historian, was the initiator
of the concept and construction of the “Scale Model of the Old Town of L’viv” 4 . Around 1931 he
began to make a 1:200 scale architectural model representing L’viv circa 1775.
Using all resources available, very intensive historical-architectural studies of the image of
18 th -century L’viv preceded the creation of the model. First, a test model of the old town of L’viv,
the so called the “Little Panorama”, was created in 1932 in 1:500 scale. The work on the “Scale
Model of the Old Town of L’viv” began four years later, in 1936. While Witwicki created the
miniatures of the most important buildings, a team of model makers, visual artists and architects
worked with him on the project.
Although the elements of the base, as well as the buildings, were made of simple materials
(plywood, cardboard, paper, metal strips, copper wire, lead sheets, and transparent and silver
foil), they were finished with the highest precision and antiqued so as to imitate the passage
of time, climate and human influence on them. The work on the model was supported by the
Association for the Construction of the “Scale Model of the Old Town of L’viv” which was
established at the end of 1935. Just before the outbreak of the WWII in September 1939, the most
important and the biggest structures and some of the tenements were completed.
In spite of great difficulties, the work on the Model continued during the Soviet occupation
of L’viv and subsequently during the German occupation of the city. All in all, about 350 objects
were finished by 1946, including approximately 80% of buildings within the fortifications and
a small part of buildings outside the city walls.

Soviet authorities nationalized the model which then became the property of the Academy
of Architecture in Kyiv. At this point, engineer Witwicki began to apply for permission to move
to Poland with his family and also to take the Model and all associated documentation with him.
Appeals with the highest U.S.S.R. authorities and the Socialist authorities of Poland resulted
in Witwicki being allowed to leave L’viv. The permission to leave came with a steep price: the
documentation of the work on the Model was taken from the workshop by the members of the
Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian S.S.R. A day before his departure, engineer Witwicki was
brutally murdered in unexplained circumstances. His wife, Irena, managed to take the Model to
Warsaw on the last transport train to Poland before border was closed.
Between 1946 and 1989 the Model was kept in secret in various scientific and museum
institutions in Warsaw and later, in Wrocław. After it became the deposit of the Historical Museum
(later: Municipal Museum) in Wrocław in 1994, it was exhibited for the first time. From June
2006, the Model has been the property of the Ossoliński National Institute (the Ossolineum) in
Wrocław. Since that time, the Model has undergone general reconstruction and conservational
work: it has been cleaned, hundreds of damaged details have been fixed and the missing elements
have been reconstructed. By the agreement between the Wrocławskie Przedsiębiorstwo “Hala
Stulecia” and the Ossolineum in November 2013, the reconstructed “Scale Model of the Old
Town of L’viv” by engineer Janusz Witwicki will be permanently exhibited in one of the rotundas
in the historical complex of the Centennial Hall.

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