I want to be sure what I am selling - an interview with Tomasz Mikołajczyk
Tomasz Mikołajczyk, associated with the amber industry for 25 years, talks about his latest "going beyond accepted schemes and canons" project, i.e. the private Amber Museum in Krakow, and the purchase of a spectrometer that is "to bring the market back to normal".
Where did the idea to open the Amber Museum come from?
I decided to implement this idea because something like this is not yet in Krakow. This city has been such a Polish center of amber for years, but in the commercial dimension. Gdańsk is the World Capital of Amber, because mainly there are production plants and workshops, while in Krakow the most amber products are sold, because the most tourists come here compared to other cities in Poland.
What effect do you expect?
I think that during the changes in raw materials on the market and the displacement of natural amber by imitations, there is a need to create a place where the natural, which is the most attractive, will be shown. That he would remind him of his history, his values and why so many people think he is the most beautiful.
Admission to the museum will be free, how are you going to finance this venture?
I am passionate about amber and do a variety of things, not all for commercial purposes, such as the Amber Portal, which does not bring income but enjoys environmental recognition. I do not expect the Amber Museum to be a commercial success, because it is a charity with free admission. I hope that we will obtain funds for its maintenance from running a store at the museum and that it will meet with the favor and willingness of cooperation from people from the industry, museums and other amber lovers. We need this kind of "spiritual support" in this complicated project. For the ones we have already held, we would like to thank. Especially Prof. Barbara Kosmowska-Ceranowicz and employees of the Museum of the Earth of the Polish Academy of Sciences from Warsaw - without them and their exhibits, our exhibition would be much more modest and probably not so well-developed.
The effects of our work will be available from mid-July. Then we will make available to visitors over 220 m2 of exhibition space in the heart of Krakow plus a small coffee garden for tourists tired of wandering around the museum. The interiors are very elegant, created with the help of the well-known architect Marek Błażucki. It will be a cool, tourist-friendly place where we will be able to organize various events - trainings, courses, shows, exhibitions - for people who want to learn more about amber. And, most importantly, our museum will be open all year, not just during the tourist season.
At the Amber Museum, you can also examine the authenticity of amber and products made from it.
The purchase of an amber spectroscope is a continuation of the mission. A year ago, amber.com.pl published my statement on the undertakings of amber organizations, whose task is to ensure the purity of amber and fair trade. There were already Amber Passports, MSB certificates - however, there is practically no verification behind it, dishonest practically do not bear the consequences, there is still a painful lack of knowledge about amber among sellers. More than half a year has passed since this publication and nothing happened, nobody did anything. How the situation looked at this year's Amberif, everyone saw: a fraction of the exhibitors' offer was natural amber, other resins were rarely signed. But the rush of customers to see what they had invested in was huge. It gave me the idea to take matters into my own hands. Today only the spectrometer - based on infrared spectrum analysis - makes it possible to distinguish Baltic amber from copal and other resins. So I bought an analogous device like the one used in the Amber Laboratory at the fair, where amber authenticity tests are carried out under the patronage of the Amber Portal. I employed two graduates of AGH-UST after geology, who are currently undergoing intensive training under the guidance of industry specialists. They already have enough knowledge and sufficient practice to study amber. I invite you to use this service - both tourists and shop and gallery owners. Each test is confirmed by a certificate with an individually designed, registered and numbered hologram. Our certificates are attached to the specific product and not to the point of sale. The test is paid, but maybe it is worth trying to attach certificates of authenticity to products, especially the more expensive ones ...?
Are you not afraid that hardly anyone cares about the "purity" of amber?
I care. By selling so much amber, I want to be sure what I am selling. It is unrealistic to go to Gdańsk or Warsaw with each subject to the Polytechnic and verify its authenticity there. Now it will be possible, although with the number of products currently on offer, it will probably take a while to test all of them. The most important thing is that from now on I will buy with the awareness of what I am buying and I will sell it on purpose. Which does not mean that I will resign from selling modified amber: it will still be on offer and will continue to be signed truthfully. If you want to check what you bought from us or elsewhere, you can already do it. This is probably the only spectrometer in private hands used to study amber - locating it in the Amber Museum will give free access to all interested parties. Also the owners of galleries and shops, who until now - like me - were not sure what they were buying, everything was based on trust in reliable producers. I believe that a certificate with detailed description and cataloging will undoubtedly be an additional commercial stimulus for buyers of amber products - not only in the Boruni chain, but also in other galleries and stores. I hope that we will bring the market back to normal - because that is what we care about most.