The beauty of the Tatra Mountains, the abundance of nature there and the uniqueness of the highlander culture delighted intellectuals of the Young Poland period to whom we owe the foundation of the Tatra Museum. Today, it is a place where one can learn about the history, culture and nature of the Podhale, Spiš and Orava regions. People can also see the former and contemporary artistic activity of the highlanders and some characteristic Podhale costumes. The oldest collections are from the 18th century and the most recent ones date back to the 19th and 20th centuries. The museum collection includes a priceless set of 19th-century female costumes of the Czorsztyn area. Also, costumes from the Podhale, Spiš and Orava regions, and interesting collections of household objects (including a łyżnik – a wooden shelf with holes for spoons, and shepherd’s equipment), richly decorated using woodcarving techniques.
The collection housed in the Nature Department presents botanical, zoological and geological specimens from the Tatra Mountains. A moss collection gathered by a patron of the museum, Tytus Chałubiński, also typical specimens of sawflies of the Megalodontidae family, gathered and described by Professor Andrzej Gaździcki, and Antoni Kocyan’s collection of birds are the most valuable items to the museum. Numerous paintings, sculptures, graphic works, fabrics and handicraft representing the Tatra Mountains are exhibited in the Art Department. They include graphic works depicting mountain landscapes by Leon Wyczółkowski and Rafał Malczewski. Furthermore, we can also find here many works by Władysław Hasior, which will spark the imagination, and also pastel portraits by Witkacy. The Zakopane style, created and promoted by Stanisław Witkiewicz, was influenced by the highlanders’ folk culture. Another branch of the museum presents the development of the construction industry in Podhale in the 19th century and the attempts made in the 1st half of the 20th century to make it a national style. It is housed in a building which itself is designed in this style.

Main Building (Gmach Główny) – the history, ethnography, and nature of the Podhale region

Branches in Zakopane:

Gallery of 20th-Century Art at Oksza Villa (Galeria Sztuki XX wieku w willi Oksza) – the activity of artists from Zakopane during the Young Poland and interwar periods
Gallery of Art in Koziniec (Galeria Sztuki na Kozińcu im. W. i J. Kulczyckich) – a collection of eastern carpets as well as paintings and graphic works by the contemporary artist, Marek Żuławski
Museum of Zakopane Style (Muzeum Stylu Zakopiańskiego) – Inspirations – origins of the concept of the national style inspired by the culture of Podhale highlanders
Museum of Zakopane Style at Koliba Villa (Muzeum Stylu Zakopiańskiego w willi Koliba) – the first house in the Zakopane style, according to Stanisław Witkiewicz’s design
Władysław Hasior Gallery (Galeria Władysława Hasior) – gallery of the artist’s works
Kornel Makuszyński Museum (Muzeum Kornela Makuszyńskiego) – the writer’s works are presented here in a former apartment of the Makuszyński family

Branches in the Podhale and Spiš:

The Museum of the Chochołów Uprising (Muzeum Powstania Chochołowskiego) – the history of the patriotic uprising of the highlanders during the Spring of Nations
Łopuszna Manor (Dwór w Łopusznej) – a former seat of the noble, patriotic families of Lisicki, Tetmajer, and Lgocki
Korkosz Farm in Czarna Góra (Zagroda Korkoszów w Czarnej Górze) – ethnographic exhibition – an example of a farm in Spiš from the interwar period
Sołtys Farm in Jurgów (Zagroda Sołtysów w Jurgowie) – ethnographic exhibition – an example of a farm from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries

Elaborated by Julia Czapla, Joanna Kotarba,
Licencja Creative Commons

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


Photograph from Tatra Museum collection, © all rights reserved

ul. Krupówki 10,
34-500 Zakopane

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“Herbarium of Tatra mosses” of Tytus Chałubiński

Tytus Chałubiński’s herbarium of Tatra mosses is the most valuable botanical collection at the Dr Tytus Chałubiński Tatra Museum. Doctor Tytus Chałubiński (1820–1889), a man of broad horizons and multiple interests, a great physician with a passion for botany, is one of the legendary figures of Zakopane.

Clock shaped as a highlander’s cottage

Everyday companions We buy, receive and collect... items of so-called everyday use that are faithful companions of our reality. We try to surround ourselves with objects that bring us pleasure, that cause our hearts to beat faster and that we take a liking to at the first glance. The space that surrounds us is important. We run away from “ordinariness” and “mediocrity.” We always try to decorate it somehow. The same applies to the past. In the second half of the 19th century in England, artists who were dissatisfied with mass machine production started the Arts and Crafts Movement. They wanted to re-create what was beautiful and noble in everyday-use objects. This initiative reverberated throughout the whole of Europe, including also Poland of that time.

Casket in the shape of a “sąsiek” (corn chest)

We buy, receive and collect... items of everyday use – the faithful companions of our reality. We try to surround ourselves with those objects that make us happy, those which make our hearts beat faster, and those to which we feel sympathy at first sight.

Tafetta skirt

Skirt of silk taffeta brocaded with a silk thread – an element of a woman's festive dress from the Podhale region. The skirt comes from Zakopane or its vicinity. Its fabric dates back to the second half of the 18th century. The time when the skirt was made and the period of its use are unknown.

“Farbonica” skirt

The skirt, known as a farbanica or farbonica, is an element of the historical Podhale outfit. It was sewn from linen fabric, woven in a home weaving workshop, and printed manually with the batik technique and dyed indigo in the village dye-works in Chochołów, which was owned by Ferdynand König, Jan Krzeptowski Sabała’s son-in-law. In Podhale women wore such skirts in the second half of the 19th century.

Men's shirt buckle

Shirt buckle – a decoration appearing in a costume of the Podhale region, used to fasten a man's shirt on the chest. It was purchased for the collection of the Tatra Museum by Juliusz Zborowski, a director of this institution, from Ignacy Prokop “Magdziarz” of Ratułów for the price of three million Polish marks in 1924.

Coffee set designed by Stanisław Witkiewicz

Small is beautiful... Museums are usually associated with large cool rooms with beautiful paintings hanging on the walls and accompanied by remarkable sculptures. In this totally undisturbed silence the works arouse universal respect and admiration. Are museums just about paintings and sculptures?

Sculpture “Piper playing at the shrine” of Stanisław Wójcik

Intimate conversation One of the major institutions in Zakopane was the School of Wood Industry. It was founded upon the initiative of the Tatra Society in 1876 as a wood carving school “to support the poor highland population and local industry”, over time it became an important point on the cultural map of Zakopane because it educated many artists who made great contributions to its art.

Wooden sculpture “Madonna and Child” of Jan Kluś

The folk sculpture Madonna and Child was made in the 19th century by a village woodcarver Jan Kluś of Olcza (originally, Olcza was an independent settlement, now it is a district of Zakopane). It belongs to the most outstanding sculptures in the collection of the Tatra Museum.

Wooden sculpture “Highlander”

Full wooden sculpture depicting a man’s figure dressed in a folk outfit similar to outfits worn by Podhale highlanders in the 2nd half of the 19th century. It was purchased for the Tatra Museum’s collection in the 1990s. There is no information about its author, place, or time of completion.

Wooden sculpture “Pensive Christ”

Small-sized wooden sculpture of the 19th century from the area of the Polish Podtarze region, depicting Pensive Christ. It cost one crown and in 1914 it was purchased in Nowy Targ by Ksawery Prauss, a collector from Zakopane. In 1920, he donated his collection to the Tatra Museum and thus the sculpture, along with 93 other ethnographic objects from Podhale, became part of the museum collection.

Highlander’s belt

Highlander’s belt (in local dialect: oposek) Opasek — a highlander’s decorative broad leather money belt tied with several metal buckles. This object comes from the Podhale village of Ząb (named Zubsuche until 1965). It was probably made in the 19th century but its manufacturer, place of completion, and time of last usage, are unknown. In 1961 it was purchased for the ethnographic collections at the Dr Tytus Chałubiński Tatra Museum in Zakopane.

Painting “At the Morskie Oko Lake” (“Tourists in the Tatra Mountains”)

It is hard to imagine Zakopane and the Tatra Mountains without tourists. They cross the town and mountain trails with great enthusiasm. The landscape attracts crowds wishing to rest in the shadows of the cool mountains, as well as artists who find an inexhaustible source of inspiration in the overpowering nature. It is assumed that the first painter of the Tatra Mountains was Jan Nepomucen Głowacki (1802–1847) and the first Tatra-related painting is the “View of the Carpathian Mountains from Poronin”, dated 1836. Later this theme was taken up by other painters, like Aleksander Kotsis. It was with him that in 1860 Walery Eljasz took his first trip to Babia Góra from which he saw the Tatra Mountains. A year later he managed to visit them. Since 1866 the mountains became his true passion. Eljasz came from Kraków, from a family where painting and art were the order of the day.

Painting “Portrait of Nena Stachurska” by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz

Woman? Child? Demon? ... Who can you see? Place of action — Zakopane — “Z village.” Time of action — April 1929. Protagonists — artist Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz and his model, this time Nena Stachurska. Nena was one of the favourite models of Witkacy, right next to Helena Białynicka-Birula, Janina Turowska–Leszczyńska and Eugenia Kuźnicka-Wyszomirska.

Painting “Portrait of a woman” by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz

On women and other demons... The art collection from the Tatra Museum features several dozens of works by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, aka Witkacy. These include landscapes, drawings and portraits. Among the works depicting by Nena Stachurska, Bronisława Włodarska, Janina Turowska-Leszczyńska and Józef Fedorowicz, there are two images of a lady whose first and last name is unknown.

Painting on glass “Our Lady with Child of Mariazell”

Our Lady of Mariazell is one of the most broadly used images of St. Mary that can be found in paintings on glass. Legend has it that in 1157 a Benedictine monk from the abbey in St. Lambrecht set out with his pastoral mission to the vicinities of this Austrian town. He was accompanied by the figure of Our Lady with Baby Jesus sculpted in the lime-tree wood.

Painting on glass “Our Lady of Ludźmierz” by Władysław Walczak-Baniecki

The Our Lady of Ludźmierz painting on glass was painted in 1970 by Władysław Walczak-Baniecki (1930–2011), folk artist from Zakopane. It is one of three paintings of his on this theme included in the collections at the Tatra Museum. The other two were completed in 1967 and 1973. They were all painted according to one scheme developed by the artist and repeated in every painting, and they differ only in the colour scheme.

Painting “Caricature of Stanislaw Witkiewicz” by Kazimierz Sichulski

Znane wszystkim porzekadło głosi, że śmiech to zdrowie. Stąd też już starożytny teatr znał komedie, a sztuka karykaturę. Artur Schrőder pisał, iż karykatura „musi odtwarzać rzeczywiste, prawdziwe rysy modela, przesadzone i zaakcentowane na sposób specyalny, komiczny, ale taki, by widz mógł je łatwo rozpoznać. Karykaturzysta musi przy tem być doskonałym psychologiem”.

Painting “Caricature of Jacek Malczewski” by Kazimierz Sichulski

Zakopane, located at the foot of the Tatra Mountains, surrounded by a picturesque landscape, used to be a paradise for all kinds of artists. Besides inspirations they could come across at every turn, they could also experience true creative and intellectual freedom there.

Painting “White and red” by Tadeusz Brzozowski

It can be boldly stated that the famous “Z. village” has always been known as a place where the human species known as artists are present in unprecedented density. The majority of respondents to the question: “Who do you associate Zakopane with?” would reply “Witkacy”.

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