25 YEARS OF THE IAA

By Anna SOBECKA


The International Amber Association (IAA) is an organisation which brings together the community of Baltic amber manufacturers, researchers and enthusiasts from all over the world.


The organisation’s beginnings are very closely related to the Amberif Fair in Gdańsk. In the first years of the Association, its founding members emphasised the promotion of amber and Gdańsk as the main centre for the manufacture of amber products. The community, initially concentrated in the region, aimed at establishing the Amber Museum in Gdańsk. Founded in 1998 by the then new Mayor of Gdańsk, Paweł Adamowicz (1965–2019), the institution grew with the Association’s immense support. In the same year, the Museum of Amber Inclusions was established at the University of Gdańsk. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the amber industry, the collecting movement and the manufacture of amber art pieces have been developing very intensively. By working with other institutions, including museums and research institutes, the Association has become part of exhibition and publishing initiatives. The Association began publishing a newsletter, which was the initial format of the Bursztynisko. The Amber Magazine. Gradually, and also owing to its members’ participation in trade shows around the world, the organisation began to internationalise in a robust way. Currently, the IAA has members from 41 countries worldwide. The first President of the Association was Wiesław Gierłowski, followed by Wojciech Kalandyk, Mariusz Gliwiński, Mariusz Drapikowski, Anna Sobecka and Ryszard Uliński. Twenty-five years ago, the founding members of the Amber Association believed that amber, when wellpromoted with an emphasis on the quality of workmanship and design, would be an excellent symbol of Gdańsk; they knew to think about promoting amber education in a deliberate and long-term manner. They also believed that, in collaboration with the industry and scientists, it would be possible to create a classification of Baltic amber. Moreover, the Association contributed to establishing the Gdańsk—World Capital of Amber strategy. The IAA supports its members, promotes good design and amber education; together with the MTG SA Gdańsk International Fair Co. and the local community, it organises the Mariacka Street Festival. For five years now, the IAA Office has been located in Warzywnicza Street, Gdańsk, where its amber product certification laboratory operates. Additionally, it provides an opportunity to conduct research for scientific purposes and validate the authenticity of amber. The IAA Experts, who are researchers from various universities, support the laboratory. The trust in the IAA laboratory comes from many years of experience of a whole array of people; it is the result of collaboration between the amber industry and researchers in geology, chemistry, biology, art history and archaeology. An integral part of the IAA’s Office—its gallery—holds several presentations a year. The first exhibition by the members of the International Amber Association took place in Warzywnicza Street six years ago. In 2016, to mark 20 years of the IAA, we held the Bursztynowe przemiany/ Amber Metamorphoses jubilee exhibition. In 2017, a series of presentations of the works by IAA members entitled Showroom was launched in the gallery. The following year, an exhibition of pieces by Michalina Owczarek Black’n’Amber attracted much attention and, in 2019, there was Artistic Jewellery with a presentation of works by Nico Delaide and Nele Blanckaert. In the pandemic year 2020, the IAA gallery held an exhibition entitled Materialisations to showcase examples of jewellery and artistic objects by Jarosław Westermark.

WE VERY MUCH LOOK FORWARD TO THE TIME WHEN WE CAN SEE YOU AGAIN AT WARZYWNICZA STREET IN GDAŃSK