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
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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

Painting “Adoration of the Child” by Lorenzo Lotto

A joyful scene of the adoration of the Child (with saints: John the Baptist, Francis of Assisi, Joseph and Catherine of Alexandria) is a hidden allusion to Christ’s future fate. The Child’s deep sleep may be associated with the Redeemer’s martyr death through ancient references — Sleep (Hypnos) in the Greek mythology is the brother of Death (Thanatos).

Sculpture “Jesus Christ Sitting on the Palm Sunday Donkey”

The sculpture, coming from the parish church of St. Sigismund in Szydłowiec, constitutes an extraordinary dramatic exhibit used during processions of going to church on Palm Sunday as to a symbol of Jerusalem. Christ, in a firmly upright position, is raising his right hand in a gesture of blessing.

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.

Sculpture “Feliks Jasieński’s bust” by Konstanty Laszczka

Feliks Jasieński (1861—1929), pseudonym Manggha, the outstanding connoisseur of art, patron and collector; he was broadly educated and talented musically. He exerted a considerable influence on the art culture of Kraków at the turn of the 20th century by his activity in the field of arts, his views, publications, and also by making the gathered collections available, including the rich collection of Japanese and Western European drawings and utilitarian objects from the Far East.

Sculpture “Dance” by Maria Jarema

Maria Jarema — born in an artistic family, the daughter of a Lviv pianist — explored the problem of dynamics, rhythm, and the musicality of a work of art both in paintings and in sculptures throughout her whole artistically devoted life.

Puppets from the “Zielony Balonik” (“Green Balloon”) nativity play — Jacek Malczewski

On 8 October 1905 in Cukiernia Lwowska Jana Michalika [a Lviv Confectionery run by Jan Michalik] the first performance of the Green Balloon cabaret was staged. The name of the cabaret arose by accident. After one of the meetings of ”the painter’s table”, where the idea of the cabaret originated, the artists saw a boy with a bunch of green balloons on Floriańska Street and then someone said: “That is our name: «Green Balloon»!”.

Karol Szymanowski's posthumous mask

Few mementoes and works of art directly associated with Karol Szymanowski have been preserved to this day. Therefore, the posthumous mask makes for quite a unique document. Suffering from tuberculosis, Szymanowski died in Le Signal hospital in Lausanne. The mask was made right after his death by a Swiss sculptor, Lucien Jules Delerse.

Woodcut “Bright Weather after the Snow Storm in Kameyama” by Utagawa Hiroshige

Utagawa Hiroshige occupied a special place in the collection by Feliks Jasieński: the collection gathered more than 2,000 woodcut boards by this artist. The abundantly represented landscape genre helps us appreciate Hiroshige as an artist who was considered to be the master of recreating the mood created by snow, rain and fog.

Painting “Son and His Killed Mother” by Andrzej Wróblewski

The painting shows a small boy embracing a woman who is presented from her shoulders down, without her head. The woman is dead, although it seems that she is returning the caress with a numb gesture of her hand. The artist painted her in a bluish azure and dressed her in a blue dress. He painted all war victims and dead people in this way — using the symbolism of blue: the sphere of shade, immateriality, and transcendence. The form generalised and knowingly made primitive as well as nearly evenly laid colour are for the condensation of essence and expression.

Two armchairs, the “Ład” Artists Cooperative

In 1918, the Szymanowski family lost the family manor in Tymoszówka, Russia. Karol Szymanowski lived in hotels, boarding houses, and with his family ever since. At the furnished Atma Villa rented in Zakopane, the composer lived between 1930 and 1935. Two armchairs made by the Ład Artists Cooperative are the only pieces of furniture to have ever been bought by Szymanowski to furnish the Atma Villa.

Living room furniture set designed by Stanisław Wyspiański

At the turn of 1905, Stanisław Wyspiańki designed the interior of the flat of Zofia née Pareńska and Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński. The history of furniture creation was described by the owner in his Historia pewnych mebli [History of certain furniture] essay published in 1927 by Kurier Poranny [Morning Courier]. Apart from the furniture, other decorative elements were designed, such as the colours of the walls in the individual rooms and the matching curtains.

Painting “Self-portrait with wife” by Stanisław Wyspiański

Wyspiański left twelve self-portraits. Every one of them is a fascinating record of the physical change and current emotional state of the artist according to his often-repeated belief stating that “man (...) changes irretrievably; they are changed by their experiences and thoughts. A portrait is a reflection of a moment, an artistic reflection seizing things in their very essence.”

Costume design for the “Harnasie” ballet by Irena Lorentowicz

As a result of a competition, the costume and stage design for Karol Szymanowski's ballet, Harnasie, was prepared by Irena Lorentowicz, a stage designer and painter, a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. The costume design, including the drawings and models, has been exhibited since 24 April 1936 in the Orbis halls, located near the Opera building.

Sculpture “Bacchante” by Teodor Rygier

A young woman, clearly amused, seems to be walking towards the viewer with a dance-like step. Her shapely figure has been captured in a lively pose, and the body is covered only with a fabric carelessly wrapped around the hips. The girl is raising a goblet with a vigorous gesture of her right hand. The Dionysian character of sculpture, marked in the title, is emphasized by a vine twig gripped in the left hand.

Sculpture “Portrait of Józef Poniatowski” by Jakub Tatarkiewicz

Prince Józef Poniatowski — nephew of the last king of Poland, general commander of the army of the Duchy of Warsaw — died in the Battle of Leipzig in 1813. Death in the waters of the Elster River initiated the cult of his character, strongly associated with the legend of Napoleon. In 1817, the prince's body was placed in the St. Leonard's Crypt under Wawel Cathedral. The bust is an original copy of a study for the famous Warsaw monument of Prince Józef Poniatowski, sculpted by Bertel Thorvaldsen. Jakub Tatarkiewicz, who — like Konstanty Hegel and Paweł Maliński — was Thorvaldsen's student at the Roman Academy of St. Luke, successfully adapted the cold neoclassicism of his teacher here.

Sculpture “Circus” by Alina Ślesińska

The late 1950s and the early 1960s was the heyday of the Polish modern sculpture which, after the ignoble period of the socialist realism rule, renewed its relations with current tendencies present in international art. It was a period of creative activity of many distinguished sculptresses.

Painting “Szymanowski's portrait” by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz

Karol Szymanowski met Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz in Zakopane in the summer of 1904. The acquaintance quickly turned into many years of friendship. In March and April 1905, they travelled around Italy together and met in Zakopane on many occasions. Szymanowski dedicated his I Piano Sonata in C minor Op. 8 composed in the period 1903—1904 “to Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz” (it was published in print in 1910).

Sculpture “Salome” by Walery Gadomski

Salome, the daughter of Herodias and stepdaughter of King Herod Antipas, danced so beautifully that the ruler let her ask for anything she wanted. Her wish, suggested by cruel Herodias, was John the Baptist’s head. Biblical Salome is one of frequent motifs in the iconography of European art. The archetype of a dangerous seductress fascinated artists of all epochs.

“Triptych of Saint Mary Magdalene” from Moszczenica Niżna near Stary Sącz

The painting, Triptych of Saint Mary Magdalene, from Moszczenica Niżna near Stary Sącz is preserved in a rare state of completeness. The essence of the retable can be investigated based on this example. At the end of the 15th century, the retable constituted an expanded structure composed of an immovable main panel, the movable wings attached to it; a predella, which served as a basis for the wings, the main panel, and a finial.

Painting “Wernyhora” by Jan Matejko

Wernyhora – a Ukrainian lyricist and bard, according to some a legendary person, according to others a historical person living in the second half of the 18th century – became famous for political prophecies regarding the fate of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Ukraine. He was supposed to have foreseen the bloody Cossack rebellions, the partitioning of Poland, the unsuccessful national liberation uprisings and the revival of the Polish statehood.

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