... the establishment of this institution [...] results from the mission of the university, which should not only educate, but also document fields of study [...], it is the payment of the debt owed to the many generations of teachers and students who left their works here without having seen the implementation of the idea which has been discussed and sought since the beginning of the University’s existence.[i]

The Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts, after many years of problems with becoming established and finding a permanent location, was reactivated in 2003, by virtue of a decision of the rector, Prof. Jan Pamuła and approved by the university senate as a university-wide unit.

The location of the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts – at “the heart of Polish art”[ii]

The 200-year-old Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków is considered by many to be the „heart of Polish art”. Its headquarters is located at Matejko Square, in a large, historical edifice which resembles a treasury from the outside. This neo-Renaissance palace, built in 1879 according to the design of Maciej Moraczewski, was created as the first building owned exclusively by the Academy thanks to Jan Matejko’s efforts. The architect gave it the shape of a mythical or fairy-tale casket with six griffins at the top. The beasts seem to protect valuable content: the cultural legacy and the tradition of shaping next generations. It is this very building which, apart from the workshops of sculpture and architecture, also hosts the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts in two of its rooms. Due to the limited space, only temporary exhibitions are organised here, while the Museum organises larger exhibitions using the rooms of the faculties located in the same building.

The beginnings

The history of the collection, which now constitutes the core of all the collections of the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts, dates back to 1818, when the painters Józef Peszka and Józef Brodowski, who operated at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries,  contributed to the establishment of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków as part of the Jagiellonian University and were the first two on the long list of names of artists turned academic teachers and their students, extended by the subsequent grades of alumni-to-be of the oldest Polish arts academy.


The exhibits in the collections of the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts are of diverse origin and come from different periods. Despite the unsystematic gathering and the losses incurred over two hundred years, the Museum’s collections are nowadays a clear record of trends in arts as well as the evolution of teaching methods and curricula. The collections amassed for educational purposes were simultaneously designed to raise the prestige of the academy created in Kraków, following the example of renowned academies of fine arts in Rome, Paris and Munich. Among the exhibits gathered at the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts, there are mementos of the professors and their works, as well as the works of distinguished students, representing the disciplines taught at the Academy of Fine Arts. The collection of the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts remains unique, even despite the interruptions and losses it has had to endure.

The earliest exhibits in the collections of the Academy of Fine Arts include seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century paintings of Polish, Italian and Dutch painters. These come from donations and the first purchases made by the professors who founded the Academy. At that time, the university’s collections were enriched by a set of extraordinary oil paintings, whose origin dates back to the first half of the 18th century, called the Book of Plants and Animals and attributed to the Hamilton brothers. The earliest museum acquisitions also include plaster copies of antique sculptures, originating from the once-numerous European foundry workshops, which, along with paintings, engravings and other specimens of fine arts, were brought to the school’s gallery and which can be seen today in the monumental spaces of corridors and exhibitions rooms of the Academy’s building at Matejko Square.

The works of the professors and distinguished students were transferred to the collections, in accordance with the regulations issued by the university’s senate in 1836. The Museum of Fine Arts hosts examples of the youthful artistic explorations of figures such as: Jacek Malczewski, Stanisław Wyspiański, Józef Mehoffer, Witold Pruszkowski and Wojciech Weiss. The self-portraits and portraits of the the university’s director and rectors are displayed in the rector’s office and the senate hall: starting from Jan Matejko, Julian Fałat, Jacek Malczewski, Józef Mehoffer, Leon Wyczółkowski, Wojciech Weiss, Jan Stanisławski, Teodor Axentowicz, and ending with contemporary figures. The group of painting accessories exhibited in these halls, many of which can be found in the compositions of master Matejko, is testimony to the existence of the Jan Matejko School of Historical Painting.

Copies of contemporary paintings, some of which may date back to the period of the Parisian branch managed in the 1920s by Józef Pankiewicz, come from the subsequent decades of the Academy’s history. The collection of the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts also hosts numerous student works, including graduate theses in the field of painting, and documents the initial artistic explorations of the most important Polish artists of the 2nd half of the 20th century, such as: Tadeusz Kantor, Andrzej Wajda, Jerzy Nowosielski, Czesław Rzepiński, Stanisław Rodziński, Tadeusz Brzozowski, Wacław Taranczewski, Zbysław Maciejewski, Zbylut Grzywacz, Leszek Sobocki and many others, notwithstanding the representatives of younger generations. The museum also owns a collection of approx. 300 student works in the field of artistic fabrics from the 1970s and 1980s.

The museum also boasts a rich collection of sculptures made by artists such as: Konstanty Laszczka, Paulin Wojtyna, Xawery Dunikowski, Józef Marek, Stefan Borzęcki, Wanda Ślędzińska, Marian Konieczny, Józef Sękowski, Jerzy Nowakowski, Antoni Porczak, Bogusz Salwiński and Ewa Janus.

The collection of the ASP Museum is still growing systematically, mainly thanks to the generosity of its donors, and currently includes over 5,000. exhibits. Co-operation with the Faculty of Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art of the home university, which includes holiday internships for students co-organised by the two institutions, has contributed to improving the condition of dozens of exhibits

Significant exhibitions, organized during the fifteen years of the ASP Museum’s operation, included both the university’s own collections, as well as exhibits borrowed from other institutions and private collections. They have made an unquestionable contribution to the popularization of the university’s collections and were also a form of introduction to the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, in 2018. During subsequent exhibitions, the outstanding figures and works of the former rectors and professors were successively commemorated, including: Jan Matejko, Julian Fałat, Jan Stanisławski, Wojciech Weiss, Władysław Jarocki and Konstanty Laszczka.

The Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts belongs to the nationwide Association of University Museums and cooperates with many institutions, including the Malopolska Institute of Culture in Kraków. Every year, the Museum participates in projects such as the Night of Museums (since 2009) and the Open Day of Kraków Museums.

Elaborated by Małgorzata Sokołowska, (The Jan Matejko Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow),
Licencja Creative Commons

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

Photo: prof. Stanisław Tabisz, © all rights reserved

[i]A. Baranowa, W mateczniku [in:] Dary 2004–2009, exhibition catalogue at the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, ed. Małgorzata Sokołowska, Magdalena Szymańska, Krakow 2009, p. 2.

[ii] In the original, the term “matecznik” (a Polish expression correspondent to the phrase “the heart of something” in its figurative meaning, or the words „den” and „lair,” if interpreted literally) was used interchangeably with the word “ecosystem” with regard to the Academy of Fine Arts by Anna Baranowa, as a reference to the 4th Book of “Sir Thaddeus” (verses 509–513 therein).

pl. Jana Matejki 13, I piętro
31-157 Kraków

phone 12 299 20 29
page museum

Opening hours

October  — April
Monday  — Friday
9:00 — 17:00

Ticket Prices

Free admission 0 PLN

Chain with a cross – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

The presented chain with a cross was used as a prop in the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków – at the school of historical painting of Jan Matejko.

Russian headdress piece – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

A headdress piece stiffened with wires, made of strips forming a diagonal chequered pattern. It is embroidered with imitation pearls and laced with metal threads, forming a convex plant ornament. The crown is placed at the back. The whole piece was covered with fabric, and straps were sewn into it at the head for fastening. The object was used as a prop in the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków.

“Audience of a Polish envoy before the Ottoman Sultan” by Lucjan Wędrychowski

The presented image from the collections of the Museum of the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts is untypical of Wędrychowski. It presents an unspecified Polish legation in audience at the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. The characters costumes and interior refer to the 17th and 18th centuries. The scene takes place in a faithfully devoted real interior – Arz Odası, the auditorium of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. MEPs according to the Turkish custom have their own costumes put on special caftans in which the deputies were dressed before visiting the grand vizier or sultan. This richly decorated attire was highly desirable by Polish visitors.


An anonymous, undated work that refers to the tradition of 17th and 18th century painting – both in terms of form and composition.

“Male nude figure” by Adam Ciopcio-Siemianowicz

Adam Siemianowicz (family name: Ciopcio) was born in 1902 in Orenburg on the Ural River in the Russian Empire. The future painter was the son of Szymon Ciopcio and Julia née Abramik, peasants from Podlasie exiled to the Urals in 1888. The boy began to paint while still in Orenburg. At that time, he usually painted postimpressionism-styled landscapes.

“Interior of Cracovian or Bronowice cottage”

The work is attributed to Włodzimierz Tetmajer or Henryk Uziembło. Both were fascinated by folk themes, which at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries were a fashionable source of inspiration.

“Model worker” by Andrzej Wróblewski

The portrait entitled Model worker represents a man dressed in blue work clothes with the collar of a white shirt poking out. The model is rendered en trois quarts. His short hair is neatly combed, smoothly clinging to the head, and his face seems emotionless.

Fragment of a decorative fabric – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

A fragment of decorative fabric was used as a prop in the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków – at the school of historical painting of Jan Matejko.

A Balkan leather belt – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

A leather belt, wide, decorated with metal elements and large oval semi-precious stones (probably agates), arranged in three rows. The belt is fastened with three metal hooks. Wide, richly decorated belts fastened with many buckles were characteristic of the entire area of the Carpathian mountains and the Balkans.

An order cross – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

A metal cross, open-work, decorated with green and white imitations glass of precious stones. The object was used as a prop at the School of Fine Arts in Kraków.

Epaulettes – props from the School of Fine Arts

The presented epaulettes were used as props at the Matejko school of historical painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków.

A double-barrel flintlock handgun – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

Normal 0 21 false false false PL X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:Standardowy; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"; border:none;} This double-barrelled flintlock was used as a prop in the School of Fine Arts in Kraków. The flintlock handgun shows many signs of usage...

Mace – a prop from the School of Fine Arts or The Fowler Brotherhood

A gilded mace with a head consisting of six blades, probably a copy of a historical weapon serving as military insignia. It was used as a prop in the School of Fine Arts in Kraków and was presented in the still art painted by Tomasz Lisiewicz (1857–1930) and displayed in MVM (M 8).

“Hera of Samos” – a plaster cast of an antique sculpture

The present plaster cast is a copy of an ancient Greek statue stored in the Louvre. The sculpture was discovered in 1875 on the sacred road leading to the heraion (temple of the goddess Hera) on the island of Samos. In 1881, the statue was appropriated and taken to the Louvre, where it is still currently stored (Inventory No. Ma 686). The plaster cast from the collections of the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts was made in the Louvre, as evidenced by a metal plate with the inscription “Musée du Louvre” on the back of the plaster figure.

“Charioteer of Delphi” – a plaster cast of an antique figure

The original bronze statue of the Charioteer was found in 1896 under the sacred road in the area of the Sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi. It shows a charioteer. Next to the statue, there were also excavated fragments of the draft animals and a dedicatory inscription certifying that the statue had been part of a sculptural group funded by the Sicilian ruler Polyzalos.

“Germanicus” – a plaster cast of an antique sculpture

The present plaster cast of an antique statue is a copy of the original marble statue kept in the Louvre (Musée de Louvre, Department of Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities, Inventory No. MR 315 (Ma 1207). In the seventeenth century, the statue was placed in the gardens of Pope Sixtus V in Rome, and then in Villa Montalto-Negroni. The statue was then deemed to be a likeness of Germanicus (Gaius Claudius Drusus Caesar Germanicus, 15 BC–19 AD). In 1685, through the agency of the painter Nicolas Poussin in Rome, it was purchased by the king of France, Louis XIV. Then it was restored by François Girardon (1628–1715) and placed in the Palace of Versailles, in the Hall of Mirrors.

“Portrait of Wojciech Weiss” by Xawery Dunikowski

The portrait of Wojciech Weiss by Xawery Dunikowski is dated to 1910. It shows one of the most outstanding painters, draftsmen and Young Poland graphic artists, who is considered to be a representative of the expressionistic current in the art of this period. The portrait is made in a realistic manner and duly reflects the characteristic features of the artist (known from painted portraits and photographs). Young Weiss is a man with a slender face, high forehead and focused eyes.

“Study of the nude figure of a standing woman” by Stanisław Zygmunt Malcher

The present Study of the nude figure of a standing woman was created during Malcher’s studies at the academy in Kraków. The post-impressionist style and vivid colouration of the image testify to the impact that the works of both his university masters exerted on the artist.

“Study of the nude figure of a sitting woman” by Bronisława Galiczanka

Little is known about the life and artistic work of Bronisława Galiczanka (Bronisława Olga Galica) and her achievements are limited to a few student works. She was born in Czertez near Sanok in 1902. She was registered as a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków during the years 1924–1928. She was educated in the studios of Władysław Jarocki and Fryderyk Pautsch, and her work was then recognized and awarded...

“Study of a male figure” by Stanisław Bieńkiewicz

Stanisław Bieńkiewicz (1855–after 1930) in 1871–1880 studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków under the direction of Jan Matejko. During the period 1889–1890, together with Józef Mehoffer and Stanisław Wyspiański, he worked on a polychrome of Mariacki Church in Kraków. Bieńkiewicz painted portraits, landscapes, historical, genre and religious scenes.