Motto:

... 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.

Collections

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
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Opening hours

October  — April
Monday  — Friday
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Ticket Prices

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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.

Portrait of Rev. Franciszek Siarczyński by Karol Schweikart

The portrait was based on the lithographic image of Franciszek Siarczyński (1758–1829) – a priest, historian, geographer, journalist, librarian and first director of the National Ossoliński Institute in Lviv.

Jacek Malczewski’s palette

Jacek Malczewski’s palette is one of the several painting palettes preserved in a collection of memorabilia of famous artists associated with the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. It served for oil painting. Its large size, streamlined, heart-like shape and thumb hole, as well as its small weight – resulting from the type of wood used – made it possible to conveniently hold the palette on the forearm and support it by propping it against the side. 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;}

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.

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.

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.

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.

An embroidered jerkin – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

A jerkin embroidered with silver (?) and golden (?) threads, with a large cut-out at the front, adorned with baubles decorated with red coral (eight baubles on each side), geometric ornamentation prevails.

A workbench for mural painting designed by Wacław Taranczewski

A wooden table on metal wheels, doubling as a palette for mural painting, designed by Wacław Taranczewski. In the years1948–1970, the artist held the post of a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, managing the faculty of decorative painting. 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;}

A sketch of a not created painting “Długosz and St. Kazimierz” by Jan Matejko

The presented pencil drawing by Jan Matejko is a sketch for the painting entitled Długosz and St. Kazimierz which was eventually left unpainted. On his paintings, Matejko often presented historical topics from the reign of the Jagiellonians. One can mention, among others, such paintings as: Stańczyk during a ball at the court of Queen Bona, in the face of the loss of Smolensk (1862), Union of Lublin (1869), The Hanging of the Sigismund bell (1874), or Prussian Homage (1880–1882).

A sketch for the painting “Stefan Batory at Pskov” by Jan Matejko

The drawing is a preparatory study for the oil painting by Jan Matejko Stefan Batory at Pskov, which can be found in the collection of the Royal Castle in Warsaw. The painting was completed in 1872, and the artist began sketching it three years earlier. This work loosely refers to the events of the three war campaigns against Moscow conducted over the years 1577–1581 by King Stefan Batory.

A royal crown – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

A children’s crown, open-work, closed by two yokes, on the junction of which there is a sphere with a trace of a broken-off cross. The ring is decorated with eight fleurons: four with palmetto-ribbon patterns at the base of the yokes, and four leaf-like ones. The crown, on the other hand, is decorated with colourful glass imitations of gemstones of a cabochon cut and various faceted cuts. 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;}

A plaque commemorating Stanisław Wyspiański by Konstanty Laszczka

The reliefs commemorating Stanisław Wyspiański (1869–1907) and Jan Stanisławski (1860–1907) are set at eye level in the wall by the landing of a staircase between the first and second floors of the main building of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. 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;}

A plaque commemorating Jan Stanisławski by Konstanty Laszczka

The reliefs commemorating Stanisław Wyspiański (1869–1907) and Jan Stanisławski (1860–1907) are set at eye level in the wall by the landing of a staircase between the first and second floors of the main building of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków.

A Persian helmet – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

The present helmet is of eastern origin. It was popular, among others, in Persia and Turkey, from where it was adopted in Poland. In the 17th and 18th centuries, such helmets were worn, among others, by towarzysze pancerni [literally: armoured companions], a type of Polish cavalry unit. The bascinet presented on the website probably comes from Persia. 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;}

A leather belt decorated with metal ornaments: a prop from the School of Fine Arts

A leather belt fastened with two buckles, covered with fittings made of brass sheet decorated with cast plant ornaments. The belt fittings consist of alternating plates in the shape of rectangles with... 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;}

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...

A breastplate – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

A breastplate made from a sheet of iron, lined with riveted brass, cut out trimmings along the edges. Decorated in the middle with a Maltese cross made from a brass sheet fastened with rivets.

A black pendant with a cross – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

This is probably a piece of funereal jewellery from the time of the partitions. Corals, along with the cross, have probably been made of black lacquer, with velvet tapes for tying around the neck. The object was used as a prop in the School of Fine Arts in Kraków.

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.