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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Objects

Painting “Caricature of Stanislaw Witkiewicz” by Kazimierz Sichulski

A well-known Polish proverb says that laughter is good for you. Hence, ancient theatre already knew comedies and the art of caricature. Artur Schrőder wrote that the caricature "must recreate the real, true features of the model, exaggerated and accentuated in a specific, comical way, but in a way that the audience could easily recognise. A caricaturist must be an excellent psychologist."

Hard-soled leather moccasins for men

Kierpce (kyrpce in the local dialect) traditional footwear of inhabitants of the Podhale region made of cowhide, with long leather straps used to fasten them. They come from the village of Bukowina Tatrzańska in Podhale, where they were made in the early 20th century. We do not know who they were manufactured by and when they were used for the last time.

Shrine with a scene of the Scourging of Christ

Shrine of the cabinet type, intended for hanging, with three figures presented in the scene of the Scourging of Christ. The shrine comes from the Podhale region but we do not know the name of its creator, the time of production and its exact place of origin. It was bought by Maria and Bronisław Dembowski for their collection during the years 1887-1893.

Zakopane style desk

Apart from paintings and sculptures, the collection of the Art Department of the Tatra Museum also includes a rich set of furniture. The visitors are particularly attracted to the Zakopane-style furniture. A desk and a chair designed by Wojciech Brzega can be seen, among other things, on permanent display at the Museum of the Zakopane Style at the Koliba Villa.

White cucha jacket

White cucha jacket, in local dialect: cucha bioła — a kind of traditional outer clothing worn by men in Podhale. The cucha jacket on display constituted an element of the Sunday best outfit. It was sewn and most likely decorated in 1966 by Czesław Styrczula-Maśniak, a well-known folk tailor from Dzianisz. A year later it was purchased for the collections of the Dr. Tytus Chałubiński Tatra Museum in Zakopane.

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.

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.

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.

Corset

Corset – an element of the traditional women’s outfit in Podhale, made of home-spun brown fabric with a characteristic triangular indent, the so-called szczytek, cut out in the middle of the top front and back parts. The corset comes from the Dzianisz village in the Podhale region, situated north of Zakopane. It was here that in the years 1887–1893 a highlander named Styrczula sold it to the married couple of collectors, Maria and Bronisław Dembowski. In this way, the presented item entered one of the largest and most interesting 19th-century ethnographic collections from Podhale. In 1922 this collection became the property of the Dr. Tytus Chałubiński Tatra Museum in Zakopane by way of legal bequest.

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.

Model of Villa “Pod Jedlami” (Under Fir-Trees)

Zakopane style in miniature The wooden mock-up of the Pod Jedlami House is definitely one of the favourite exhibits of visitors to the Museum of Zakopane Style in the Koliba villa. Why is it so popular? It is definitely due to the artistry of completion and how it fires up the viewers’ imagination.

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.

Bagpipes

Podhale bagpipes — known in the local dialect as koza, dudy, dudzicki and gajdy. The Podhale bagpipes are a four-toned instrument from the reed aerophone group. They consist of a leather bag that is the air reservoir necessary to blow into the pipes, the bellows; a mouthpiece with which the piper blows into the instrument (duhac), a drone pipe (bąk), and a short triple melody and drone pipe on which the piper plays (gajdzica), set in a wooden casing resembling a goat’s head.

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 “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 “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 “Spring in the mountains” by Rafał Malczewski

The Tatra Mountains have always fascinated, delighted and bewildered everyone with their power. They have threatened us with their volatility and have punished daredevils severely who have given up their caution. Ultimately, they have been a real artistic challenge for all those who wished to tame them and include all that has always fallen outside any frames on a flat piece of cloth or paper.

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”.

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 “Highland robbers — welcoming of Surowiec”

The collection of historical paintings on glass in the Tatra Museum includes 459 paintings. Most of them are paintings on sacral themes that performed religious and decorative functions in the highlanders’ rooms. Only thirteen of them are secular images. Nine of them are devoted to the scene drawn from the bandit’s legend when Janosik’s fellowship receives a new companion who shows off his agility and, while jumping over a bonfire, simultaneously cuts the tip of a spruce with a shepherd’s axe and shoots off the tip of a fir–tree with a pistol held in the other hand.

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