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Russian headdress piece – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

A headdress piece stiffened with wires, made of strips forming a diagonal chequered pattern. It is embroidered with imitation pearls and laced with metal threads, forming a convex plant ornament. The crown is placed at the back. The whole piece was covered with fabric, and straps were sewn into it at the head for fastening. The object was used as a prop in the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków.

An order cross – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

A metal cross, open-work, decorated with green and white imitations glass of precious stones. The object was used as a prop at the School of Fine Arts in Kraków.

Perfume bottle in a basket made of gilded bronze with the word “SYLVIDIA”

The perfume bottle has the form of a cubical decanter with a thick neck and a bevelled stopper in the shape of an octagon.

Porcelain bottle with a hand-painted floral miniature and gilding

The porcelain bottle is shaped like a flattened barrel on a stand, with a stained-glass stopper. The round surfaces of the bottle’s body feature hand-painted miniatures depicting generous flower bouquets.

Alms pouch

A small pouch made of a long piece of fabric sewn in half, reinforced on the sides with a silk tape, with a binding in the top part and a hole for a string used to tighten and loosen the pouch. At the bottom, there are decorative elements (tassels) consisting of gold circles made of thread and long single tassels. The whole pouch is embroidered with split stitch, long and short stitch and fishbone stitch. On one side, there are four human figures among thin trees with palmate leaves resembling oak leaves. On the other side, the same young woman is being led up a hill by the old man. Although interpretation of the scenes on the alms pouch is not certain, it is most likely they depict episodes from the story of Tristan and Iseult. The tale of unhappy love of brave Tristan to beautiful Iseult, the wife of king Mark of Cornwall, was written down for the first time in the 12th century and has been reappearing since then in many countries and language versions. Scenes embroidered on the pouch, enrooted in the Arthurian tradition, depict the clash of a sophisticated world of courtly ways (young and beautiful lovers) with wild forces of nature (the old men). There are only several alms pouches with similar decorations preserved until now.

Rationale of Kraków bishops

The rationale consist of two wide ribbons that form the shoulder pieces, joined at the chest and at the back with large circular shields, to each of which, a pair of slightly narrower ribbons that go diagonally outwards is connected. All parts are covered with small pearls which serve as a background for decorations embroidered with gold thread. In the middle of each shield, inside four concentric circles, there is a standing figure of the Lamb of God with a halo round his head and a vexillum on a crossed flagpole. long the ribbons, separated by narrow strips, there are capitalised inscriptions.The ends of the hanging ribbons are sectioned with couples of strips and include shields with the emblems of the Kingdom of Poland (White Eagle) and the Kingdom of Hungary (Anjou). They are placed in such a way that whether you see the rationale from the front or the back, the Eagle is on the left and the Anjou coat of arms is on the right ribbon. All edges of the rationale are trimmed with a narrow stripe, while the edges of the ribbons are trimmed with long gold tassels. Threaded pearls decorating the rationale were fixed in strings to a linen base reinforced underneath with a thick stiffening. The lining was made of red damask. Several types of yellow thread was used for the embroidery: drawn cored wires – smooth, twisted into ropes, lamellae (plates) and the so called bullion. All stripes, letters, vignettes and the Lamb of God are embroidered on a relief base made of thread. Red-and-gold as well as blue-and-gold lamé was used for the background in the coats of arms.

Pharmaceutical mortar

A late Renaissance mortar in the shape typical of the Low Countries and with a unique silvery colour. The mortar was made by one of leading casters of Deventer, Gerrit Schimmel, and it is part of a pair. The other is dated from 1688 and signed by the same author. It is at present being exhibited in a museum in Rotterdam.

Armchair

An elegant piece of furniture made from boxwood with an upholstered seat and a high backrest, which is characterised by its richly carved ornamentation. The chair is associated with Andrea Brustolon of Venice, who was one of the most original sculptors and artists of the Venetian Baroque.

Sugar bowl from Aleksander Józef Sułkowski's set

A sugar bowl with a lid, having the form of an oval flattened and buckled vase standing on four volute legs. The lid is topped with a handle in the shape of a cone. The legs are made up of dual scrollwork patterns with female masks in palmette crowns placed between them; their back side is additionally ornamented with raised acanthus leaves. There is a characteristic woven relief around the edge, called Sułkowski's pattern (Sułkowski Ozier).

“Komon” type kimono with a motif of maple leaves

A kimono is a Japanese dress and is an important part of this country's history, culture and tradition. Through the ages, its form has changed somewhat due to Chinese and Korean influence. It got its present shape, the letter T with broad sleeves frequently reaching the floor, during the late Edo period (1603–1868).

Two small vases ornamented with cranes in flight, placed against a dark blue background

The crane is one of the most important symbols of longevity in many Asian countries. When it is depicted in combination with other symbols, it takes on an additional, slightly different meaning, which is often deeper than the original one. This majestic bird with its beautiful body and feathers has become one of the most important symbols of the culture of Japan, as the Japanese are a people who observe the surrounding nature carefully and draw a lot of inspiration from nature.

Wedding kimono “uchikake” with a motif of cranes in flight

The level of a kimono's formality is determined by the type, design and colour of its fabric, as well as the adjustment necessary for the occasion the kimono is intended for. At present, most women wear kimonos when practising traditional Japanese arts such as the ikebana and the tea ceremony, or during important family meetings. One such event is a Japanese wedding of Shinto rite. One of the kimonos included in the set of kimonos worn by the bride on that day is a red outer kimono uchikake.

Cup

It is one of the most magnificent Baroque, secular works of Polish goldsmithery preserved in the collection in the world. The scenes most emphasized on the goblet are connected with weaving. This was the main source of income for the residents of Leszno in the 17th century. Two of them illustrate everyday occupations – shearing and weaving, and the third one clearly has a allegorical meaning.

Star of the Order of Saint Stanislaus

The order was established by Stanisław August Poniatowski on 7 May 1765. Until the end of the sovereign Republic of Poland, it was not divided into classes, and it was awarded in a uniform shape.

Cross of the Order of the White Eagle

The oldest and the highest Polish distinction – one of the most important decorations in Europe of the 18th century. It was established by Augustus II the Strong and awarded, since around 1705, to those who performed great services for the monarch. The presented version was shaped in 1793, in the form of a Maltese cross enamelled red with white borders, and with a small ball at the end of each point.

Chalice

It is the oldest of the dated donations of Casimir the Great for Polish churches. The Roman form of the basic chalice components and some of its motifs (e.g. small rounded arch arcades) coexists here organically with raised Gothic ornamentation, setting this impressive vessel apart from other goldsmith works of the 14th century.

Vessel in the shape of the Polish Eagle

At present, the tableware of the Polish royal court is known to us almost exclusively from archive materials. The majority of preserved single items or their designs come from Augsburg – the most important centre of the European goldsmithery in the 17th and 18th centuries. Among these items, the most outstanding is the state set of John Casimir Vasa.

“Ise-katagami” dyeing stencil with a carp motif

The carps that appear here belong to those motifs which, despite reflecting Japanese symbols, seem familiar to the Europeans as well. According to the tradition brought to Japan from China, carps swim upstream so as to transform themselves into dragons, having first proven their strength and perseverance. Due to those features, they are also patrons of boys on their own day which used to be celebrated in Japan on 5 May (at present, this is Children's Day in Japan).

“Ise-katagami” dyeing stencil with a motif of “momiji” maple leaves and branches

A kimono is one of the first things that comes to mind when we think of Japan. We always see those traditional dresses exquisitely decorated with painted or embroidered designs. Each of them is decorated with the most beautiful and elegant patterns. However, there are also everyday kimonos with repeating, small patterns of flowers, birds, fans and other motifs. They are made using stencils such as the Ise-katagami, which the Japanese have been creating for centuries.

Mantelpiece clock with a figure of Apollo

An example of a clock in the shape of a figure, a popular style of mantelpiece clock in the 2nd half of the 18th century. It depicts Apollo with a lyre and a laurel wreath on his head, sitting on the top of an obelisk containing the mechanism of an anchor escapement and a mainspring.