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

Hussar half-armour

The armour is made of iron sheet; at the edges and faulds it is lined with brass borders covered with repoussé and stamped pearls. Under the rivets there are laid brass rosettes decorated in the same way as the borders. A helmet has a semi-circular skull, a peak with a nasal bar, a fauld neck guard and cheek pieces with a heart-shaped cut. A five-fauld breastplate with a fishbone in the middle tied with two leather straps.

Tournament armour

The tournament armour is compiled of several suits of West-European armours created in the mid-16th century. Its basic parts are the cuirass, collarbone guard, and pads and thigh guards made by the best armourers from southern Germany. The breastplate with the fishbone and goose — that is a protrusion in the stomach area — has vertical stripes with an etched motif of a floral twig entwined over a panoply and musical instruments.

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.

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.

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.”

Sculpture “Mickiewicz after an Improvisation” by Wacław Szymanowski

Swooning, exhausted by “the Improvisation”, the national poet is supported by two female figures. Mickiewicz's figure seems to emerge from an irregular mass, resembling a wave in the sea — a theme strongly favoured by Szymanowski. This somewhat theatrical manner of displaying the character of the poet is meant to emphasize the effort accompanying the creation of outstanding poetry. In Wacław Szymanowski’s interpretation, in tune with the romantic image of the poet, Mickiewicz has created poetry under the influence of the supernatural.

Coffin portrait of a young woman

The image of an unknown young woman is an example of a coffin portrait: a special genre of portraits that emerged in close relation with the funeral customs in the Baroque period.

Painting “Meditations” (“Ash-Wednesday”), from the Cycle: "Ceremonies" — VII

Witold Wojtkiewicz occupies a special position among the Young Poland painters. His paintings, typical of the decadent fin de siècle, were described by André Gide as the “personal fusion of Naturalism, Impressionism and grotesque.” The artist created his own painting world, astonishingly expressionistic, as if from some somnambulistic vision.

Welcoming goblet of tailors' guild

The welcoming Goblet is one of Kraków's most valuable guild relics, preserved at the National Museum in Kraków. It was submitted to the museum on 19 September 1905, by the Association of Tailor's Companions, along with a collection of souvenirs belonging to the tailors' guild: a guild counter, a bell, a tray, and a crucifix.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Sculpture “Portrait of Zofia Potocka” by Walery Gadomski

Walery Gadomski studied at the School of Drawing and Painting under Wojciech Stattler (drawing and painting) and Henryk Kossowski (sculpture) in the period 1850–1858. He was simultaneously educated in Franz Bauer’s workshop at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (1856–1858). He fought in the January Uprising. In the years 1876–1889, he taught sculpting at the School of Fine Arts in Kraków. He became famous for his busts of contemporaries, for example, Jan Matejko or Józef Szujski, and historical figures (Veit Stoss, Jan Długosz).

Commemorative box with coins and a banknote from the times of the November Uprising of 1831

At the time of the November Uprising, which broke out in Warsaw in 1830 to oppose Tsarist Russia, the National Government ordered a series of new coins to be made including a 3 copper groschen, a 10 coin groschen, silver two- and five-zloty coins and gold Dutch ducats.

Bas relief “Fallen Angels” by Stanisław Wyspiański

In 1895, Stanisław Wyspiański made a polychrome project for the presbytery of a Franciscan church. The composition consists of three elements: the titular fallen angels, at which the group of archers aims, and the figure of Archangel Michael, who guards the gates of paradise. A perfect accompaniment to this work is the polychrome located on the opposite side of the presbytery: Madonna and the Child and Caritas. The artist, in a visible way, juxtaposed two attitudes to life and showed their possible consequences.

Tile with the Nałęcz coat of arms of Bishop Piotr Gembicki

In 1845, in A Souvenir from Kraków, Józef Mączyński mentioned the existence of two “ancient furnaces” inside the episcopal palace in Kraków. Furnaces built of tiles, decorated with the coat of arms of the bishops — Marcin Szyszkowski (Ostoja) and Piotr Gembicki (Nałęcz) — were already in poor condition in the middle of the 18th century, which had been noted in the inspection of the palace. However, thanks to the large, colourful tiles, those furnaces were certainly very decorative. Unfortunately, in 1850, the furnaces shared the fate of the episcopal palace, which burned down during the great fire of Kraków, and only single tiles and their fragments have survived to this day.

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.

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.

Garden dress

Crinoline dress made of white muslin printed with motifs of water plants at the bottom of the skirt, and flying butterflies and other insects above. A short camisole lined with a white fabric with whalebones and fastened in the front with buttons. Slotted and flared long sleeves sewn with frills.

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