Kolekcja „MOJE WIATRAKI Wirtualne Muzeum”

Wiesław Szkopek from Poznań began his adventure with windmills in the early 1970s.

He was „infected” with a passion for windmills by Feliks Klaczyński, an engineer from Wielkopolska, who for several decades documented the disappearing world of windmills and made faithful copies of them.

Kolekcja „Wirtualne Muzeum MOJE WIATRAKI”

It is worth mentioning that W. Szkopek, as well as part of his family, were for many years active tourist guides of the Polish Tourist Society (PTTK), where they led tours around Poznań and the Wielkopolska region, hence the collector’s fondness for and extensive knowledge of regional history.

Initially, Wiesław Szkopek collected press articles and publications about windmills. Later, he became interested in postcards depicting windmills. Over time, the collection grew to a sizeable collection of more than 8,200 artefacts acquired from all continents. Some of them are „age-old” objects – the oldest dated exhibit is a coin minted in Brussels in 1650. Thus, his windmills came from Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America and Oceania – a total of 177 countries. For more than fifty years, he has collected a wide variety of objects featuring or depicting a windmill.



This has resulted in a collection that includes:

  • studies on windmills and milling
  • more than 8,000 pages of publications
  • more than 3 thousand photographs of windmills, including some 250 photographs from the Wielkopolska region taken in the years 1966-1998, which gave rise to this collection – the collection is successively being supplemented by further ones
  • 1,800 postcards – including postcards and commemorative postcards,
  • stamps and commemorative date stamps and postcards (over 600) from 167 countries
  • coins and banknotes (including some 150 so-called notgelds)
  • telephone cards (more than 80)
  • rally stamps, business cards and company logos, including on faience factory shares
  • police uniform badges
  • packaging, containers and labels, including
  • more than 400 match labels and
  • at least 550 labels, coasters and beer caps
  • plates and other kitchen utensils, vases, coffee mills, lamps, candlesticks and clocks bells, collector’s spoons, smoking accessories
  • jewellery
  • figural windmills
  • calendars, posters
  • ceramic tiles, wallpaper, curtains
  • toys, puzzles, playing cards
  • ex-librises
  • gramophone records.

In addition to figural windmills, frying pans, clumps, thermometers, a baseball bat or a szkandel (a copper vessel for heating a bed) and a nightstand – which bear the image of a windmill – the collection includes a number of 'windmill trinkets’ such as. The collection includes a number of 'windmill trinkets’ such as beer bottle caps, thimbles, pendants, bracelets, pendants, cufflinks, earrings, a razor, a shoe spoon, a horse harness clasp or office clips and a pencil sharpener.

The exhibits are made of various materials; for example, metal, felt, plaster, shells, ceramics, stained glass, straw, paper, wire, mosses, lichen and straw, wood or dough.

As a collector of such an extraordinary collection, V. Szkopek has already been invited to various meetings at which he presented his collection. It is enough to mention the presentation of a fragment of his collection, which he was asked to do on 18.09.2011 during the 1st Meeting of Windmill Lovers, which took place during the Jaracz Milling Festival, as well as new versions of the same, which he presented during subsequent Meetings of Windmill Lovers at the Milling Museum on 15.09.2013, 20.09.2015, 24.09.2017, 29.09.2019, 5.09.2021 and 10.09.2023.

During these meetings, he also shared his knowledge of windmills by giving papers related to this topic, including a study on the 'History of windmills in Poznań’. It is also worth noting that parts of W. Szkopek’s collection were also presented in May 2018 and June 2022 at the National Agricultural Museum in Szreniawa. On the other hand, on 28.09.2015, he presented a collection of coins, banknotes and surrogate money with the image of a windmill at the Financial Crime Prevention Department of BZWBK in Poznań.

A more scientific summary of the object of his passion was presented on 28.11.2011 during one of his master’s seminars at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Faculty of Fine Arts, Institute of Monuments and Conservation. It was during such meetings that Wiesław Szkopek often heard suggestions that it would be worthwhile to make the collection available to a wider circle of interested parties in some way. At the same time, two ideas emerged – the well-known YouTube website and, partly because of the regional nature of the collection, including a rich collection of photographs of windmills from the Wielkopolska region, the Wielkopolska Digital Library.

Thanks to the support of the Kórnik Library of the Polish Academy of Sciences, since 2012 the „MOJE WIATRAKI Virtual Museum Collection” has been available online as a publication of the Wielkopolska Digital Library. The great interest in the collection in question is evidenced by the high number of times this publication has been displayed in the WBC – as of 11.2022, it had been viewed 12.5 thousand times. During the academic conference 'Audiovisual Archives of the 21st Century’ held in Poznań on 27.11.2013, among other things, the publication of the 'MOJE WIATRAKI’ collection in the WBC in the form of a virtual museum was presented as an attempt to make a private collection accessible to a wider audience.

The value of the collection lies not only in the interesting and diverse exhibits, but also in the fact that some of them (above all photographs and postcards) document the disappearing world of windmills. They are therefore essential iconographic documents. When made available on the Internet, they contribute to the popularisation of issues related to historic architecture, landscape and the problem of protection, conservation and adaptation of technical monuments. The value of these documents is enhanced by the fact that many of the presented windmills include information about their location, as well as their history and current use.

The collection is being continually enlarged and digitalised, so that updates to the „MOJE WIATRAKI Wirtualne Muzeum Collection” can be periodically placed in the Wielkopolska
Digital Library – https://www.wbc.poznan.pl/publication/251856

As of November 2022, the publication 'MY WINDMILLS’ totalled more than 7,000 pages (slides).

Interestingly, Wiesław Szkopek is still collecting source information on more windmills depicted in photographs and postcards. This information is most often collected from witnesses, and the collector’s documentary work is perhaps the last chance to immortalise them. It is worth adding that the collection in question also includes at least several dozen unique photographs of windmills that no longer exist today. It should also be emphasised that a further several dozen windmills immortalised in the photographs are currently in poor technical condition or even in ruins. These photographs are perhaps the last traces of their existence.

Until 2013, W. Szkopek was a member of the Wielkopolska Windmills Association.

Since August 2017, the publication „MOJE WIATRAKI Virtual Museum Collection” has also been available online on a website created and maintained by the collector at his own expense – www.e-mojewiatraki.com – As of 05.2024, the website has been visited more than 250,000 times.

Finally, it is worth noting that the collector also makes his collections available in the form of videos posted on the YouTube website https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvcwLbw48KK-2u20AT3AX6dO3uFPYVIl7.


November 2022

Magdalena Biniaś-Szkopek, PhD, Professor UAM

data update 17.05.2024