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The National Museum in Krakow

The National Museum in Krakow

The National Museum in Krakow is the oldest ad simultaneously largest museum on a national scale in Poland. It was created in 1879 by a decision of the City Council of Krakow. Up until the end of World War I, it was the only large museum open to the public in Polish lands, and until today it remains the museum with the largest number of collections, buildings, and permanent galleries. The collections which are maintained by the Museum include nearly 900,000 exhibits, which aid the Museum in achieving its mission of spreading awareness of Polish and foreign art.

The National Museum in Krakow comprises 10 branches. The main branch is the Main Building, located at Al. 3 Maja 1, in which three permanent galleries are housed: the Gallery of Arms and Uniforms in Poland, the Gallery of Decorative Art, and the Gallery of 20th-century Polish Art. Other rooms in the museum house temporary exhibitions, as well as being the venue for educational workshops, lectures, and meetings for children, teens and adults; numerous conferences, seminars, and training sessions are also held there. The administration and management offices of the Museum are located in the building, as are the library and some workshops and studios. 

The oldest branch of the National Museum in Krakow is the Sukiennice or Cloth Hall, located in the Main Square numbers 1–3, which was chosen as the headquarters of the newly formed museum in 1879. The Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art located at the Sukiennice is one of the most well-known museum collections in Poland.

The Museum also features three biographical branches devoted to great Polish artists: the Matejko House at ul. Floriańskiej 41 (the private home of the greatest Polish historical painter) and the Mehoffer House at ul. Krupniczej 26, which includes a garden designed by Józef Mehoffer and considered to be the most beautiful garden of the Young Poland period in Krakow, reopened in 2004 after a 60-year absence.  The third biographical branch is located outside Krakow, in Zakopane at ul. Kasprusie 19, and is the biographical museum of the great Polish composer, Karol Szymanowski, located at the beautiful Atma wooden villa.

The Szołayski House, at plac Szczepańskim 9 (formerly the Stanisław Wyspiański Museum), apart from permanent and temporary exhibitions, hosts lectures, concerts, theatrical performances, and educational events. There is also a museum gift shop and cafe.

The Erazm Ciołek Palace, at ul. Kanoniczej 17, houses two permanent galleries which present artworks from the National Museum collections. The first floor showcases the “Art of Old Poland. The 12th-18th Century” gallery, where works of Polish Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque art can be admired. The ground floor houses the “Orthodox Art of the Old Polish Republic” gallery, while in the restored basement, 800 fragments of the most valuable architectural sculptures from around Poland can be seen, originating from such places as St. Mary’s Church, Krakow Cathedral or Gniezno Cathedral. The exhibition is part of the “Krakow Within Your Reach” project presenting architectural sculpture from the collections of the National Museum in Krakow.

The collections of the National Museum also boast a priceless numismatic collection of 100,000 objects including the finest collection in the world of Polish numismatics. Its core is made up of a group of more than 11,000 items collected by the famed numismatist and collector of historical memorabilia, Count Emeryk Hutten-Czapski (1828–1896). This collection, together with the museum building itself, was donated to the National Museum in Krakow, thus forming the Czapski Museum, located at ul. Piłsudskiego 10–12. In 2016, the Czapski Pavilion was constructed at the site in memory of the Count’s grandson, an outstanding painter, writer, and victim of the Katyń Massacre.  

In 2013, in the historic old granary located at plac Sikorskiego 6, a new branch of the Museum was opened, the EUROPEUM – European Culture Centre, presenting works of European art from the 13th to the 20th century.

On the 29th of December 2016, the collection of the Princes Czartoryski became an integral part of the Museum. After renovation of the Princes Czartoryski Museum building at ul. św. Jana 19 and the adjacent Arsenał with entrance from ul. Pijarska, this priceless collection including 86,000 exhibits will again be open to the public. The collection also includes 250,000 manuscripts, old prints, books and documents which can be viewed at the Princes Czartoryski Library, located in the historic townhouse at ul. św. Marka 17.

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The National Museum in Krakow
ul. 3 Maja 1
30-062 Krakow
12 433 55 00
12 433 55 55