Interpretations
Here you will find topics interpreted by specially invited authors from the world of science, culture and art. Thanks to them, you will see selected exhibits in new contexts and will learn the connections between them. These proprietary collections are described with texts and illustrated with images. Some can be listened to — read by people related to the Małopolska Region.
To interpret means to seek connections between seemingly distant things; to present what is known in a new light; to tell enchanting stories; to look for unobvious meanings; to juxtapose what would never come together; to turn to the other side; and finally to create totally new contexts in one’s own subjective and imaginative way.
You are encouraged to create your own theme collections and share them on the website!

Book Stories


Interpretations

A museum playground

A playground in a museum? Yes! Visiting a museum can be fun. No more serious labels and showcases. Why don’t we go to a circus? Or let’s play hopscotch or impersonate somebody and take funny pictures. We can also… do treasure hunting! Or canoe, ride a bike, spin on a carousel, play a shop game…There are numerous attractions waiting for you in our playground. Together we will search for interesting objects which resemble elements characteristic of playgrounds by their look and function. Those associations will not always be obvious. However, it is worth stopping for a while to see and examine each exhibit. And during the next visit to the museum find more objects that could become a part of our virtual museum playground.
Author: Anna Komorowska

Ancient museum of imagination

The Ancient Museum of Imagination is a collection of images of antiquity, created through the ages for the needs of the moment and as the situation allowed - images studied by other images.
Author: Karolina Pachla-Wojciechowska

Book Stories

The route is based on a selection of exhibits referring to characters and stories from chosen children’s books published in Poland. One of the aims set out by the author of the elaboration is to popularise the valuable children’s literature and illustrations.
Author: Joanna Osiewicz-Lorenzutti

Caligraphy, if you write

“Writing is not talking” – this is the way an illiterate peasant from a Podlasie village explains the significance of a written word to his son in Edward Redliński's novel Konopielka. The boy returns home after his first day at school, shows his parents his notebook, an elegant pencil, and proudly announces that he will know how to write by the end of the winter. He asks his father to show him how to write letters. With his back against the wall, careful not to lose his authority, the father goes outside and writes letters – “round, angular, branching, curling up, by hitting the frost-bitten earth with a stick time and time again (...)“ (translator’s note: free translation). From the sprawling signs he reads out important things and voices an opinion that “you can’t write just anything”, “writing is not talking.” He starts by praising Jesus Christ, presenting the family, offspring, laws of nature – the sun rises and sets, winter is cold, summer is hot. Those watching this are impressed by the knowledge, literacy impresses them; they are amazed that each written word is a truth. The boy reacts by crying when the father jokingly reads that his son is lazy and greedy. He is afraid of the written word. The scene unfolds in quite an absurd atmosphere, it is full of solemnity, just a step from ridicule, yet, nevertheless, it leads us into the sphere of writing and shows enormous respect for the scribe and those who are literate, fascination with letters and writing tools as well as anxiety about words preserved in writing, words that transform reality.
Author: Grzegorz Barasiński

Change of AT(T)mosphe(I)RE

Author: Sylwia Trzaska

Cut, pulled out, dried — servient plants

When we hear the word “plants”, we usually think of ornamental garden plants, maybe some wild, meadow, or forest ones. Among spontaneous associations, seldom are there domesticated plants. We usually associate them with food, furniture, celebrations. We are interested in their posthumous life, the result of transformation made by human hand or only by mind. The way of looking at them suggested here is supposed to reverse the process of transformation and show a living plant in an exhibit or its surroundings.
Author: Piotr Klepacki

Dying occupations

Situated at the banks of the Dunajec, Raba, Kamienica, Skawa, Białka, Biała, Ropa, Prądnik, Szreniawa and other rivers and rapid streams, the historic factories and wooden industrial plants in the country operated using the forces of nature, such as water and fire. The water falling down on waterwheels with great force moved the wooden devices in the country mills, lumber mills, fulling mills, oil mills, etc. Fire was used for work in smithies and pottery kilns. Many items essential to households were produced in the countryside to satisfy the needs of the inhabitants of the village and its neighbouring areas. Many products came from other areas: they were bought at fairs and markets in nearby towns, during pilgrimages to church fairs; while some goods were delivered by travelling merchants straight to the people’s homes.
Author: Elżbieta Porębska-Kubik

Emancipation of women

Both history and culture are characterised by their focus on the experiences of men treated as universal, which explains the interest of historical sources in power and conflicts that comprise political history. The social history, the history of everyday life where women are present, is still in the margin of research. Up until the formation of the women’s emancipation movement, history had been interested in women only as distinguished individuals, but never as a social group. In the 19th century, thanks to the efforts of emancipation activists and social transformations, the position of women started to change in the spheres of society, education, labour, political rights, and art. Female artists appeared on the stage as creatresses who associated their life with art. The issue of gender had emerged and had an impact on artistic creation, development opportunities, and position in the history of art.
Author: Ewa Furgał

Engine roar in the museum

“We will sing of great crowds excited by work, by pleasure, and by riot; we will sing of the multicoloured, polyphonic tides of revolution in the modern capitals; we will sing of the vibrant nightly fervour of arsenals and shipyards blazing with violent electric moons; greedy railway stations that devour smoke-plumed serpents; factories hung on clouds by the crooked lines of their smoke (...) because we want to free this land from its smelly gangrene of professors, archaeologists, ciceroni and antiquarians”. Tomasso Marinetti, Manifesto of Futurism, 1909
Author: Dorota Jędruch

Fight under every banner, except the white flag…

In the history of Poland, the rustle of silk dresses has often mingled with the rustle of silk banners — fabric intended to be used for clothing was often used to produce insurrectional banners. Our history has been written by crossed sabres hung on Persian fabrics in mansions belonging to noblemen, and by gorgets placed on whitewashed walls. In palaces and manors the symbols of the past were tournament armours and horse tacks, while at small cottages and huts there were modest peaked cups (Polish: konfederatka) and upright placed scythes, when there was a need to support Tadeusz Kościuszko. All hearts beat for the homeland, no matter if they were hidden under the buckler of a knight, the sheepskin coat of an insurgent or a legionary, or the shirt of the Home Army’s soldier. However, they have not always been beating amicably. It just so happened that they brought harm to the Most Serene Republic of Poland.
Author: Dorota Strojnowska

Foreign bodies. About communion, presence, person, myself

A human being who has not heard another person speak for three weeks can be diagnosed with the first signs of changes in the brain – says Boris Cyrulnik, a French psychologist. As soon as a newborn baby, violently thrown to live in a world where nothing is associated with anything, nothing is known, starts to see better, he or she digs into the gaze of the one who holds him or her in their arms. Communion with the mystery of another person is the core of being a human.
Author: Olga Stanisławska

From 3/4 to mp3

Can you imagine music suddenly disappearing? No mp3s, no records, or radio – there is just silence all around, and the only sounds are those of life, the sounds of a city. Only the rattle and hum of engines, the rasp of wheels on tracks, or possibly the sounds of nature, but without the background music we are so used to because it is present nearly everywhere: in shops, at hairdresser’s, in bars, and on trams, buses, planes, streets – in every place we can put headphones on. And what if we could enjoy music only at a concert when someone plays or sings? Just like in the Middle Ages. Yes, but these “Middle Ages” ended quite recently, a little over a hundred years ago. The greatness of music, nearly its entire history, happened at a time when, in order to listen to music, you had to sit at a piano yourself, take up the violin or the flute, open a music score, sing, or at least have someone else do it for you. However, the last hundred years have been enough to totally change the position of music that had been developing for millenniums. From the status of fine art, considered in the end to be the highest form of art, it has fallen to the level of a simple background sound that always follows the same rhythm of 2/4 or 4/4 with less and less room for originality all the time. The introduction of recordings, on the one hand, has allowed us to enjoy the unembraceable ocean of music collected from its entire history and, on the other hand, brings the artistic oeuvre to the level adapted to the trivial, least demanding, but most numerous group of listeners. The quick road from which it is impossible to get out. How did all of this happen?
Author: Jakub Puchalski

Funeral ceremonies

We know nothing about death. And this is our whole knowledge on the matter. Nothing can be said about death. The dead might say something about death to us, but the problem is that they are no longer among us. They are not alive anymore, so they do not speak, cannot tell or call things. They are unable to reveal what death actually is. No one returned from “there” and those who returned – like Lazarus – remembered nothing. Death is an enigma for us, an empty place with zero semantics. That is why so much can be said about it – just like everything can be said when there is nothing to say.
Author: Dariusz Czaja

In time and space. Within and beyond senses

A short guide through time and space of folk culture Ethnographic exhibits stored in museums can be our guides through time and space of traditional folk culture, because both time and space operated in two contexts — real and imaginary, ritual and mythical. They were the elements of world structure based on folk beliefs. Within the folk world structure there were similar divisions of time and space.
Author: Elżbieta Porębska-Kubik

Japan – literary interpretations

Murasaki Shikibu (973?–1014?), the lady-in-waiting who came from the influential Fujiwara clan and, also, the author of the monumental work Genji monogatari (The Tale of Genji, of the beginning of the 11th century)2, once claimed that “the literature is a product of the efforts of people who want to overcome the boredom of their everyday existence.”3 In the Heian period (794–1185), when Murasaki lived, that boredom of everyday existence bore unusual fruit by producing unique and exceptional works (usually created by female hands), since regarded as some of the highest achievements of Japanese literature, such as Genji monogatari, Makura no sōshi (The Pillow Book, ca. 1000) by Lady Sei Shōnagon, Kagerō nikki (The Gossamer Years, ca. 974) by the author known as the Mother of Michitsuna, or the first imperial anthology of Japanese poetry entitled Kokinwakashū, Kokinshū abbreviated (The collection of Japanese poems of ancient and modern times, ca. 905), to name but a few. The court culture, which was born during that period, became an inspiration for many subsequent generations of writers, poets and artists.
Author: Joanna Wolska-Lenarczyk

John Paul II

We all know children’s dreams of greatness, for example, imagining that each soldier carries a marshal’s baton in his schoolbag. “So,” thinks a child, “I could also be such a soldier and become a general in the future, couldn’t I? And the story of the ugly duckling which turns into a swan from the tale by Andersen could be my story, too?”
Author: Janusz Poniewierski

Judaism from the inside

Author: Przemysław Piekarski

Kantor and memory mechanisms

MEMORY, both individual personal memory and social, collective memory – is the most interesting topic of contemporary art and literature. As an elementary ability of the human mind to collect experiences and recall impressions or information, memory is a characteristic of human spirituality, a component of intelligence. The gift of memory is what distinguishes us from dead matter and most animals. Without memory we do not exist, as we have no past and become helpless. The loss of memory is equivalent to a loss of identity. What about historical memory, the memory of nations? “The loss of memory by a nation is also a loss of its conscience,” wrote Zbigniew Herbert.
Author: Krystyna Czerni

Latin 2.0

One of the medicine students from one of the best Polish universities shares the following thought expressed in Latin on the Facebook page of “Polska w Europie — łacina w szkole” (Poland in Europe — Latin at school) campaign (https://www.facebook.com/lacinawszkole): “It is a dead language, so it should only be taught to humanities and language masturbators, rather than people who will never use it again”. He used his own words, but actually spoke of something that is, unfortunately, obvious to many: Latin is no longer useful, so it is something redundant. However, the premise on which this reasoning is based is not true, so the conclusion is also erroneous.
Author: Rafał Toczko

Małopolska in the inter-war period

The Małopolska region was like a lens — it accumulated all the trends and tendencies emerging in Poland reborn after the year 1918. The Central Industrial Region, the Academy of Mining and Metallurgy (AGH) and the town of Zakopane, attracting Polish cultural and social elites, are only some of the examples of the contribution the inhabitants of Małopolska made to the huge effort of reintegrating the Republic of Poland from the three partitions, so differentiated in terms of their organisation and economy. Thanks to the relatively large autonomy and good organisation under Austrian occupation, the chaos related with the creation of a new administrative division was quickly tackled and the following new voivodeships were created: Kraków, Lviv, Tarnopol and Stanisławów. In the year of its establishment (1920), the Kraków Voivodeship, with its capital in Kraków, covered an area of 17,448 km2 and had a population of 1,992,810.
Author: Helena Postawka-Lech