Polish Academy of Arts and Science (PAU)
17 Sławkowska Street
31-016 Kraków, Poland
The Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences or Polish Academy of Learning (Polish: Polska Akademia Umiejętności), headquartered in Kraków, is one of two institutions in contemporary Poland having the nature of an academy of sciences.
The Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded in 1872, as a result of the transformation of the Cracow Learned Society, in existence since 1815. Though formally limited to the Austrian Partition, the Academy served from the beginning as a learned and cultural society for the entire Polish nation. Its activities extended beyond the boundaries of the Austrian Partition, gathering scholars from all of Poland, and many other countries as well. Some indication of how the Academy's influence extended beyond the boundaries of the Partitions came in 1893, when the collection of the Polish Library in Paris, the largest collection of Polish materials amassed by the Great Emigration, was transferred to the ownership of the Academy, and a station was founded in Paris, though this latter step had been preceded by the establishment of the Rome Expedition (annual trips to Roman archives).
After the First World War, the Academy was renamed 'the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences' (PAU), and become the official representative - though not state-affiliated - of Polish learning, a status which entailed participation in international learned organizations; among other things, the PAU was a founding member of the Union Academique Internationale (UAI). The period between the world wars was the period of greatest activity at the PAU, especially in the sphere of publications: over 100 publication series were then in print, among them the monumental Polski Słownik Biograficzny [Polish Biographical Dictionary]. The Scientific Station in Rome was also founded during this period.
After the German Occupation, the PAU continued its activities in the same fields until 1952, when the authorities decided to take over its agencies and assets on behalf of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, which was then being established.
The PAU was never formally dissolved, however, so that it was able to resume its activities immediately after the systemic transformations of 1989.
The process of renewing the PAU's structures and agencies began at once. To begin with, the Classes were recinstituted. Since the members of the Cracow Branch of the Polish Academy of Sciences had been automatically appointed as members of the PAU, it was necessary to divide the existing Class of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.
As a result, the PAU as of May 1990 had five Classes:
Class I: Philology;
Class II: History and Philosophy;
Class III: Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry;
Class IV: Natural Sciences; and
Class V: Medicine.
A sixth Class, Creative Arts, was added in March of 1993.
The PAU's publication activities were also reactivated in 1990, beginning with the PAU Annual and the Reports on Activities and Meetings, followed by the publication series entitled Papers. Successively, in a 'grass roots' manner when the perceived need coincided with the possibilities, Commissions began to be formed within the Classes, beginning with the Commission on Central Europe.