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Tree of life “Gunungan” — shadow theatre figure “wayang kulit purwa” from Indonesia

Gunungan is one of the most important figures that opens a traditional performance of the Indonesian shadow theatre wayang kulit purwa. It depicts a tree of life representing the five elements making up the universe: earth, air, fire, wind and water. It also symbolises a palace, forest, and sea, as well as the above-ground and underground worlds.

The “snow” type “Ko-omote” mask of the “Nō” theatre

In the classic Japanese theatre, masks are the most important accessories of the leading actor shite. With these masks, an actor is able to impersonate characters of both real and imaginary worlds (e.g. a warrior, a young woman, an old man, as well as a demon, a god or a goddess, etc.). By putting on a mask, the character is transformed and the audience is able to discover their hidden secrets (e.g. the extraterrestrial origin of the character), or fierce feelings tormenting them (sorrow, envy, madness).

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.

Sculpture “In the Theatre Box” by Luna Amalia Drexler

The sculpture represents a figure of a sitting woman depicted from the waist upwards. The woman is holding binoculars and slightly leaning out of the theatre box, assumedly to take a better look of the details of the artistic event in which she is participating. There is a satisfaction, or even reverie visible on her face. Is it because of the play?

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

A funny puppet representing Jacek Malczewski in a caricatural character of Jacek Symbolewski was purchased for the collection of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków in 1962. It makes a valuable reminder related with the Young Poland cabaret called Zielony Balonik [Green Balloon] operating in the period from 1905 to 1912 on Floriańska Street in Kraków in the Cukiernia Lwowska [Lviv Confectionery] opened by Jan Apolinary Michalik and hence called Jama Michalika [Michalik’s Den].

Photograph “Ludowy Theatre” by Henryk Hermanowicz

The black and white photograph shows the building of the Ludowy Theatre in Kraków-Nowa Huta from the side of the main entrance on Władimira Majakowskiego Street (today: Obrońców Krzyża Street).

Nativity scene from Wieliczka

A model of a puppet nativity scene, symmetrical, with two storeys and five towers, provided with carrying handles on its sides. The entire structure is made of wood, the base and the upper floor of boards, and the frame from strips of wood. The walls are made of cardboard; the ground floor is covered with red paper with “bricks” painted with black ink and the walls of the upper floor and towers are covered with paper cut-outs in the shape of windows and star ornaments. The floors are separated with a decoration of horizontal, multicoloured stripes with silver teeth on the sides.

Nativity Scene by Franciszek Zięba

This puppet nativity scene made by the carpenter Franciszek Zięba in 1935 is the first exhibit donated to the Museum – the Vistula Ethnographic Park in Wygiełzów and the Lipowiec Castle. The base of the nativity scene is adapted to the needs of puppet theatre.

Mock-up of decorations of act I of “Legenda II” (“Legend II”) by Stanisław Wyspiański

This mock-up is one of the most valuable objects in the collections of HMK, related to the scenographic activity of Stanisław Wyspiański. As an experienced theatre practitioner and stage director of his dramas, Wyspiański made scenography sketches, decorations, and costume designs, as well as mock-ups.

Drawing for the performance “Wielopole, Wielopole” by Tadeusz Kantor

This invaluable drawing presents the scene: “Properly handling the invention of Mr. Daguerre: the military way” of the first act of the work, Wielopole, Wielopole, directed by Tadeusz Kantor. The drawing has watermarks. The composition was made with ink and pencil and placed in a black cardboard passe-partout. The outline of the female photographer is marked in black ink. The woman is absorbed in the action of photographing/shooting.

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.

Anna Baumgart, “Paragraph 1000”

Anna Baumgart’s film, Article 1000 (Paragraf 1000), is the result of the artist’s search in the archives of the Falstad Centre. During the years 1941–1945, this location served as an SS prison camp, and, after the WWII, it was transformed into a prison for people collaborating with the Nazis. The starting point for the artist was the documentation found as a result of a query and fragments of the New Year’s performance script, staged by convicts in 1947, which went on to become a political scandal.

Andrzej Wajda's journal of the performance of “The Wedding” (Stary Theatre, 1991)

Directors’ journals usually include unique notes concerning the production of a film or performance. They are notebooks in which all essential information is recorded – from their thoughts about the interpretation, suggestions for the arrangement of stage movements to the list of actors together with their telephone numbers. For the reader, it can be a treasury of knowledge on a stage or film adaptation of a work and offer an insight on the director's method of working. The presented journal of Andrzej Wajda is a record of his work on The Wedding by Stanisław Wyspański, which was staged in the Stary Theatre in Kraków in 1991.

Actress Jadwiga Mrozowska’s costume of Lady Macbeth

The costume for the role of Lady Macbeth was given to the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków as the inheritance after the actress and singer Jadwiga Mrozowska, who had connections with the Kraków stage in the years 1902–1905. From 1905 the artist settled down in Italy, where she performed as an opera singer.

“Young couple” (“I Shall Never Return”, 1988)

Young Couple is an object of spectacle Cricot 2 Qui non ci torno più (I Shall Never return), which was created in Kraków and Milan in 1987–1988. The premiere took place on 23 June 1988 at the Piccolo Teatro Studio in Milan. The play I Shall Never return is a summary of previous work of Tadeusz Kantor's theater.

“Window” (“Wielopole, Wielopole”, 1980)

The role of this object is in the play is double. On the one hand, a window opens Room of Childhood on the outside, allows the penetration of other spaces. Just as it was in the play The Dead Class (1975). The window is an unusual object that separates us from the world the other side, from» unknown «... of Death ...

“Wardrobe — Interior of Imagination” (“Country House”, 1961), reconstructed in 1981

Tadeusz Kantor’s sculpture expressing the idea from the Cricot 2 play of W małym dworku (Country House), based on S.I. Witkiewicz’s play under the same title. The premiere took place in Kraków in the Krzysztofory Gallery on 14 January 1961. This was the Informel Theatre stage of the artist’s works.

“Trolley” — prototype (“Let the Artists Die”, 1985)

Wózeczek stał się w spektaklu symbolem wspomnienia dzieciństwa. Czytamy w Przewodniku po spektaklu: „Idziemy ku przodowi w przyszłość, / równocześnie zagłębiając się w rejony / PRZESZŁOŚCI, czyli ŚMIERCI. (...) / Siedzę na scenie, / JA — rzeczywisty, lat 70... / nigdy już nie stanę się na nowo / chłopcem, gdy miałem 6 lat... / wiem o tym, ale pragnienie jest / nieprzeparte, / nieustanne, / napełnia całe moje istnienie... / W drzwiach zjawia się / MAŁY ŻOŁNIERZYK — dziecko / JA — GDY MIAŁEM 6 LAT, / na dziecinnym wózeczku / (na moim wózeczku!)”.

“The Trumpet of the Last Judgement” (“Where Are Last Year’s Snows”, 1979)

The “trumpet” was an object — a prop of the Rabbi character (played by Zbigniew Gostomski) and his Pupil (Dominika Michalczuk). The natural-sized tin trumpet was covered with a black material, a kind of casing whose end on the cup side dropped loosely falling into the metal bucket. The trumpet was hung on a metal frame structure (nearly 3.5 metres high) where a system of blocks and transmissions was installed with steel links enabling it to be raised and dropped by a crank handle.

“The Rubbish Cart” (“In a Little Manor House”, 1961)

The Children in a rubbish cart exhibit was designed by Tadeusz Kantor and executed in the 1st half of the 1980s drawing upon the idea of the Informel Theatre and the Cricot 2 Theatre performance, W małym dworku [Country House], whose premiere was staged in Kraków in the Krzysztofory Gallery on 14 January 1961 (see “Wardrobe — Interior of Imagination”).