The National Museum in Kraków is the oldest Polish museum with the “National” moniker. It was established in 1879, initially as a museum of Polish contemporary art. Thanks to subsequent donations and acquisitions, it stands today one of the greatest museums in Poland, in terms of the number of buildings (17), branches (11) and items entrusted (800,000). Although the Museum still specialises mainly in Polish art and culture, its property also contains exquisite collections of European and world art, e.g. paintings, graphic works, Western European sculptures, Far East art and crafts, ancient art, Orthodox church art, Judaica and an extensive collection of crafts, military items and fabrics from the West and East as well as numismatic items.
The Museum’s scientific activities led to it becoming the only museum in Poland to receive the status of a research unit, granted by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. The National Museum organises several dozen exhibitions and temporary displays each year, which are acclaimed by visitors and the media. It also conducts various educational activities for different age groups as well as the disabled and disadvantaged people.
According to the prestigious British magazine Art Newspaper, the National Museum in Kraków is the only Polish institution classified among the most popular world museums. It is visited by more than 650 thousand people each year.
The main building of the National Museum in Kraków is located at 1 Aleja 3 Maja. It is one of the most interesting Modernist buildings in Kraków. It houses three permanent galleries: “Arms and Uniforms in Poland”, “Gallery of Decorative Art” and “The 20th Century Polish Art Gallery.”
The first seat of the National Museum in Krakow was in the Cloth Hall [Sukiennice], which still houses the Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art (Main Market Square nº 1–3). It is one of the largest permanent exhibitions of 19th century Polish paintings and sculptures in Poland.
In the Gothic and Renaissance Bishop Erazm Ciołek Palace [Pałac Biskupa Erazma Ciołka] (Kanonicza Street nº 17) there are two permanent galleries open to visitors: “The Art of Old Poland. The 12th–18th Centuries”, “Eastern Orthodox Church Art of the Old Republic of Poland” and an atelier collection of architectural sculptures.
The Emeryk Hutten-Czapski Museum [Muzeum im. Emeryka Hutten-Czapskiego] (Piłsudskiego Street nº 10–12), re-opened for visitors in 2013 after 70 years, is situated in the 19th–century Czapski Palace and the neighbouring Łoziński House. It presents the largest collection of Polish numismatic items in the world as well as splendid foreign numismatic items stretching from ancient times to the modern age.
The National Museum in Kraków has four biographical museums. The Matejko House [Dom Jana Matejki] (Floriańska Street nº 41) is the oldest biographical museum in Poland. The artist’s works and mementos left by him can be seen in the house where he was born, where he lived and worked.
The Mehoffer House [Dom Józefa Mehoffera] (Krupnicza Street nº 26), with its authentic equipment preserved, is surrounded by one of the most exquisite gardens in Małopolska. It contains the works of this painter who lived during the Young Poland period.
The Szołayski House [Kamienica Szołayskich] (Plac Szczepański 9) contains exhibitions devoted to Stanisław Wyspiański, the most prominent representative of Art Nouveau, and to the art of his era. It also houses a temporary collection of mementos of Wisława Szymborska, the Nobel Prize in Literature winner.
The Karol Szymanowski Museum [Muzeum Karola Szymanowskiego] in the “Atma” Villa in Zakopane (Kasprusie Street nº 19) is situated in a historical building in the Zakopane style, dating back to the 19th century. In the 1930s, it was the home to the second most famous Polish composer after Chopin. It is the only museum of Szymanowski in the world and the venue for concerts as well as lectures devoted to music.
The Princes Czartoryski Museum [Muzeum Książąt Czartoryskich] (św. Jana  Street nº 19) is currently undergoing a renovation. The Gallery of Ancient Art is available in the adjacent Arsenal (Pijarska Street nº 8).
The Princes Czartoryski Library [Biblioteka Książąt Czartoryskich] (św. Marka Street nº 17) contains collections of books and manuscripts as well as the archives of the Czartoryski family. It also houses a collection of manuscripts from the National Museum in Kraków.
A new branch, the EUROPEUM European Culture Centre [Ośrodek Kultury Europejskiej EUROPEUM], was opened in September 2013 in a former 17th century Granary (pl. Sikorskiego 6). It houses a permanent exhibition of collections covering a period of seven centuries of Western European painting art and is a centre of information of Western European paintings in Poland. EUROPEUM is to be a venue of exhibitions, events, concerts and lectures devoted to European culture in the broadest possible sense.

Elaborated by Katarzyna Bik (Promotional Section of the National Museum in Kraków), © all rights reserved
Photograph by Karol Kowalik (Photography Studio of the National Museum in Kraków), © all rights reserved

www.muzeum.krakow.pl

al. 3 Maja 1,
30-062 Kraków


phone 12 433 55 00
phone 12 433 56 00
phone 12 433 56 37
page museum

Opening hours

The Main Building
Monday
closed
Monday  — Friday
9.00 — 17.00
Saturday
10.00 — 18.00
Sunday
10.0 — 16.00

Ticket Prices

normal 10 PLN reduced 5 PLN family 20 PLN Sunday – free admission to permanent exhibitions

Włocławek cup

The Włocławek cup is the most precious and one of the oldest exhibits of decorative art from the collections at the National Museum in Kraków. It was made in the 1st half of the 10th century, presumably in a workshop located on the territory of Lorraine or Alemannia.

Woodcut “Portrait of actor Kōraiya Kinshō” by Toshūsai Sharaku

Toshūsai Sharaku is one of the most enigmatic Japanese artists. The woodcuts signed with his name come from the period between May 1794 and January 1795. A total of about 150 Sharaku card images depict actors from the Kabuki theatre; these are projects with a completely different new form of expression, often close to a caricature.

Shrine with the Senju-Kannon Bosatsu figure

The portable shrine with the image of Senju-Kannon Bodhisattva (Japanese: Bosatsu) was made with the use of the most valued techniques, and the precision of the fine exposure of details emphasises the high class of the exhibit.

Set of twelve spoons with busts of the Apostles and the Szeliga and Przeginia coats of arms

The preserved Polish inventories dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries inform of a rather high number of silver and gold spoons being the property of the royal court, the Polish aristocracy, the nobility and the bourgeoisie.

Cradle

A Baroque wooden cradle was a gift of King Augustus II for Joachim Daniel von Jauch (1688—1754), royal plenipotentiary for construction matters, on the occasion of the baptism of his son. The King was the godfather of the first-born son of the von Jauch family, Henryk, who died in early childhood.

Paintning “Ahasuerus” by Maurycy Gottlieb

The composition presents a young man with oriental facial features, emanating with sorrow and suffering. He is wearing a decorated dark robe, a royal diadem on his head, and a gold earring in his ear. The painting, in dark tones, was brightened with patches of amber colours for the fragments of the face and shoulders as well as with warm reds for the background.

Painting “Portrait of the Artist's Wife: In the Summer Apartment” by Józef Mehoffer

This painting, characteristically shaped as a vertically extended rectangle, is a portrait of the artist's wife against a background of the interior of a summer apartment. This piece was created in 1904 in Zakopane, where the Mehoffers rented a newly completed wooden highland house for a few months.

Painting “Portrait of King Augustus III in a Polish costume”

The representative room of the Bishop Erazm Ciołek Palace, known as the Room of Virtues, houses the gallery of old Polish portrait paintings that were common in the old Poland. For the nobility, their own images and depictions of their relatives and ancestors formed a vital factor for building family and social ties and documenting genealogy and affiliations.

Painting “Frenzy” by Władysław Podkowiński

Along with Józef Pankiewicz, Władysław Podkowiński is considered to be the precursor of impressionism in Polish art painting. His works also gave rise to Symbolism and Expressionism trends in Polish Modernism. About 1892 Podkowiński’s oeuvre began to feature visionary and phantasmagoric depictions of the issues of love, suffering and death inspired by his personal experiences, with references to achievements by Western European symbolists.

Kontusz sash

The sashes worn with the kontusz by the nobility of the Republic of Poland are of Eastern origin. In Poland they became popular by the agency of Armenians, who first brought them from Persia and Turkey, and later initiated their production in the workshops set up in Poland. The best-known manufacturing factory was located in Słuck.

Włocławek reliquary (Kruszwica reliquary)

The Włocławek reliquary (also known as the Kruszwica reliquary) was created in the 2nd quarter of the 12th century, supposedly in Swabia. It is linked to the Zwiefalten workshop. The exhibit is in the form of a rectangular low chest on four legs made of oak wood and covered with a copper sheet decorated with champlevé (blue, fair blue, white and green), engraved and gilded.

Sculpture “Madonna of Krużlowa”

The figure passes as the most perfect sculptural work of art of the so-called Beautiful style epoch (around 1400) within the Małopolska region. A repertoire of forms elaborated previously in stone sculptures was transformed into a wooden sculpture (so-called Beautiful Madonnas); characteristic cascades of folds at the sides, frontal folds running through Mary’s torso at a semicircle, shaping the letter V below, and even lower, on a pedestal spreading widely, as an optical base of the figure.

Sculpture “First whispers of love” (“Whispers of love”, “Secrets of love”) by Wiktor Brodzki

The scene shows the goddess Aphrodite leaning her head towards a winged Cupid to listen to what he wants to say to her. The goddess’s enigmatic smile suggests the frivolous character of the conversation. The artistic virtuosity: flawlessly smooth moulding and details rendered carefully are the typical features of Wiktor Brodzki’s sculptures.

Horse tack according to the family tradition after Hetman Stanisław Jabłonowski

The horse tack shown is a part of the almost typical horse-riding equipment used in the Republic of Poland by rich noblemen and magnates in the 17th and 18th centuries. The tack consists of a saddle, a girth, stirrups and a bridle with szkofia and a breastplate. The shabrack with a pair of tassets also originates from Adam Sapieha's collection, though the previous owner is unknown.

Torah mantle (Meil) from the synagogue in Szumsk near Krzemieniec

The cover in the form of an elongated rectangle was hand-sewn of a fabric with a tiny geometrical and floral design. On the obverse, in the cartouche, taking on the form of a laurel wreath, there is an embroidered donative inscription which reads: זנ | אשה צנועה | מרת הינדא ז”ל | בת הרב המ הג’ | מ’ שמואל כץ שנ’ | תעג לפק

Tadeusz Kościuszko’s sukmana coat

The homespun sukmana coat is traditionally believed to belong to Tadeusz Kościuszko, sewn of ashen cloth, with long sleeves lined at the end with red fabric, widening from the waist down. The upright collar is sewn with a red fabric inset. On the collar, along the hook-and-eye clasp, at the waist and the coat tail cut, there are brown braids of woollen string. At the bottom of the right coat tail there are four horizontal zones of blue and yellow embroidered with wool.

Hussar sabre

Turkish, Damascus blade with a smooth cut. On the external side of the blade, at the base, there is a gold-embossed Eastern inscription in the cartouche with fleurons. A closed hilt. A gilded crossguard decorated with a Rococo medallion, and additionally fitted with a plastic ornament at the end of its arms and terminals. A guard bent at a straight angle leading up to the pommel, gilded and niello with floral motifs.

Kontusz style outfit

This outfit, comprising the kontusz, żupan, trousers, kalpak, boots and karabela sabre, belonged to the Drohojowski Family from Czorsztyn. A full Polish national costume consists of an external part known as the kontusz and the żupan, the part which is worn underneath the kontusz. The kontusz was made of velvet. The back was cut in a characteristic manner with the so-called pillar, flared with a system of deep pleats highlighted with the sewn-in silk haberdashery.

Painting “Józef Mehoffer self-portrait”

The painter — a small-bodied young man with the look of an intellectual — represented himself in the form of a bust portrait in a foreground, against a neutral background. He looks at us attentively through his pince-nez. Although portrayed principally en face, he is marked by a lively posture, manifesting itself in an asymmetrical position of Mehoffer's shoulders, the artist's head being slightly turned to the right, with his face being somewhat turned in the opposite direction.

Woodcut “Oiran Yosooi from the Matsuba-ya Pleasure House” by Kitagawa Utamaro

Beautiful women of the oiran offered an attractive subject for artists dealing with Japanese wood engravings; it peaked in the Edo epoch (1603–1868). Elusiveness and passing, so strongly featured in the philosophy of this period, made people seize the current moment and celebrate the joy stemming from watching flowers or admiring the Moon.

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