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Confirmation of the statute of the Grand Guild in Koszyce issued by Stefan Batory

The document is the confirmation of the statute of the Grand Guild of Koszyce by the king, issued a year earlier by the city council, which is also presented on our website.

The foundation act of King Casimir the Great

At the request of the king, on 12 June 1350, Bodzanta, the Bishop of Kraków, established a parish in the royal village of Niepołomice, thus reorganizing the rural areas adjacent to the parish.

Painting “Portrait of Sigismund I the Old”

The Portrait of Sigismund I the Old is one of the very few preserved painted portraits of the ruler. The researchers suppose that it was a prototype of the portrait hanging above the entrance to Sigismund's Chapel, attributed to Andrzej, the painter unknown by his surname.

Tapestry with the Monogram of Sigismund Augustus in Cartouche

This tapestry of a group of monogram grotesques with the initials of King Sigismund II Augustus placed under a crown in a decorative cartouche belongs to a series of seven drapes (door curtains). In four of them, the cartouche is accompanied by satyrs playing instruments while the other three depict nymphs sitting on thrones. The composition is a representative example of ornamentation called Netherlandish grotesque. It was modelled on a print of ca. 1546 by Cornelis Bos, one of the founders and pioneers of this type of decoration. The painted design for the tapestry was modified, but the set of motifs and the general outline remained unchanged.

Tapestry with Satyrs Holding Up a Cartouche with the Monogram of Sigismund Augustus

Two satyrs hold a blue shield with a decorative monogram SA (Sigismundus Augustus) of King Sigismund Augustus. The cartouche is topped with a closed crown. The mythological deities stand in a frame of richly ornamented strips of wood, curved in an arc, against a forest landscape. The deity which can be seen on the left of the shield has a wreath of vine on its head and is girded with a vine with clusters of ripe grapes.

Jagiellonian tapestry “Paradise Bliss” of the “History of the First Parents” series

The Jagiellonian tapestry Paradise Bliss is the first fabric of the History of the First Parents series, commissioned by Sigismund II Augustus and created in Brussels during the years 1550–1560. It depicts events of the beginning of the Biblical Book of Genesis (Gen 2.8.–3.20).

Jagiellonian tapestry “Dragon Fighting with a Panther”

Imaginary animals are not predominant in tapestry presentations but sometimes appear there. Their presence usually has a symbolic meaning. In the tapestry Dragon Fighting with a Panther, this is derived from Physiologus, which is an ancient treatise on animals containing, aside from their description, an allegorical interpretation of animals, plants and minerals. According to it, the panther is loved by all animals, with the exception of the dragon. Such a presentation was interpreted as an allegory of Christ's struggle against Satan. Here, the dragon symbolises the forces of evil, and the panther the forces of good.

The tombstone of king Jan I Olbracht

The tomb of Jan I Olbracht is a milestone piece not only for Kraków artistic circles but for the entire country. It was sculpted in the years 1502–1505 and consists of two parts executed by two different artists of different backgrounds, education and experience. From the local tradition of commemorating dead rulers derives the tomb sculpted in red stone from the Esztergom quarry, placed in a very deep niche carved into the western wall of a chapel. The tomb is decorated on the front side only (the sides are not exposed), while figural representations were replaced by a rectangular inscribed plaque. This simple and sophisticated solution clearly refers to the art of ancient Rome, in which inscription plaques were the basic element of commemoration of the deceased (Lat. tabulae ansatae). The long inscription was carved in the humanist capitals that had been created based on ancient Roman letterforms and is one of the first instances where such a font was used in Poland.

Order of Virtuti Militari

The medal was made at the request of Stanisław August Poniatowski (1732–1798, date of reign 1764–1795) to honour distinguished officers in the victorious Battle of Zieleńce. In the first statute, the order was named the Order of the Military Cross, and it still remains the highest Polish distinction awarded for military service.

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.

Painting “Portrait of Jan Sobieski”

The portrait presents Jan Sobieski (1629–1696) of the ”Janina” coat of arms, the son of the Kraków castellan and Teofilia née Daniłowicz. It is one of the rare images of Sobieski, the Grand Hetman of the Crown (1688) before his election for the King of Poland in 1674. Jan Sobieski, the hero of Chocim and Vienna, was born in the castle in Olesko, near Podhorce. He was the descendant of the famous hetman, Stanisław Żółkiewski.

Manuscript of the “Letter granting freedom to the town of Tarnów by Emperor Francis”

Francis II, the Holy Roman Emperor, King of Germany, Hungary, Czech, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria and Jerusalem, Archduke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy and Lorraine, Grand Duke of Tuscany, etc., confers a privilege granting freedom to Tarnów and its inhabitants. It approves the property of Tarnów burghers and the possessions of the town.

The tombstone of king Władysław I the Short

The circumstances in which Władysław I Łokietek’s gravestone was founded remain unknown. The artistic form of the tomb was mentioned for the first time as late as in Annals of the Famous Kingdom of Poland by Jan Długosz : his body is buried in the cathedral church by the main altar, to the left, in a tomb of white marble adorned with sculptures and a canopy, in front of St. Władysław’s altar, which he, in his lifetime, ordered to be built and furnished. St. Władysław’s altar mentioned here was actually founded by Łokietek’s son – Kazimierz the Great – most likely soon after 1333.

King Władysław’s III of Varna tombstone

The gravestone of Władysław III of Varna is shaped as a tomb, with the figure of the ruler dressed in full armour on the top slab. The giasant has a youthful face with idealised features and holds a bare sword against his chest – Szczerbiec – which serves the purpose of styling the King as an ideal Christian knight. The introduction of a particular object known to all Poles, in this case the coronation sword of polish kings, into the composition had been adopted a number of times in the culture of the 19th century, especially in Jan Matejko’s paintings. It served the purpose of making past events and figures more probable by linking them to particular items or works of art that were considered national relics. Such combinations were not always justified from a historical perspective, but they were used consciously, according to the rules of philosophy of history, which in the distant past allowed for an insight into God’s plans and some general principles governing the history of the country divided by the three partitioning powers.

Gdańskian three-ducat donative of Władysław IV Vasa

Donatives (from Latin donum — gift) are a special category of numismatic item, with the characteristics of both coins (multiples of a ducat) and medals (a high artistic standard). They were a gift given to monarchs or prominent dignitaries, in order to gain their favour, at the same time proving the power and magnificence of the issuers. In the Commonwealth, they were minted at the request of rich cities, such as Gdańsk and Toruń.

Sculpture of Augustus III

A statue of Frederick Augustus II, the Elector of Saxony, and King of Poland, Augustus III, on horseback. It is an example of cabinet sculpture. Similar portrayals of Louis XIV, Napoleon Bonaparte and Marcus Aurelius, often made in bronze, were popular in the 2nd half of the century.

Jagiellonian tapestry “The Building of the Tower of Babel” from the “Story of the Tower of Babel” series

In this, one of the three largest tapestries in the collection of King Sigismund II Augustus, we can see the beginning of the story of the construction of the Tower of Babel as described in the Book of Genesis. The scene shows Nimrod, the legendary hunter, and people building a tower “whose top may reach unto heaven” (Genesis 11:1–9) under his leadership. The building under construction is situated in the background, on the right hand side of the textile, whereas on the left side, there can be seen workers erecting the tower. Thanks to the detailed presentation, we can see, among other things, what sixteenth-century stonemasonry tools looked like. On the vast plain, people bustle around carrying blocks of stone and building a scaffolding. God, barely visible to the right of the tower, watches their feverish work. As in the other biblical tapestries, there is no shortage of accurately rendered images of animals, insects and plants. The Latin inscription placed in the upper border reads in translation: “Nimrod, the first powerful ruler in the world, built a huge tower of baked bricks. God confounded the builders’ languages, and the work was never completed.”

Under Window Tapestry with Monkeys

The tapestry belongs to the same series of tapestries designed to be hung under window sills as the Under Window Tapestry with the figures playing the shells. Two textiles with monkey scenes have been preserved from the total of fourteen tapestries of this group. All the small tapestries were sewn on to over-window and over-door tapestries in Russia (to where they had been taken away in 1795). The artificially assembled elements were unstitched after this part of the collection had been repossessed in 1922. The tapestry with inv. no. 128 was the one which had been damaged to the relatively smallest extent; it was cut mainly at the side edges. Quite a big part of a rectangular shape is missing on the left side.

Over Door Tapestry with the Arms of Lithuania on landscape background with Animals ‒ a Spotted Hyena and a Monkey

This textile was designed to be hung over a door, hence its shape – a rectangle topped with an arc. In its centre, there is the coat of arms of Lithuania – the Charging Knight, turned to the left. The arms are surmounted by the grand ducal cap and suspended on floral garlands. Exotic animals are presented on either side of the coat of arms: on the left, a small predator prowls around, while on the right, a sits monkey that seems to be staring at the viewer. In the background of the tapestry, an immature forest can be seen.

Painting “Equestrian portrait of Prince Władysław Sigismund Vasa”

The picture depicts Prince Władysław Sigismund Vasa, later Władysław IV Vasa, the King of Poland. It was painted by an unknown artist of Rubens' circle, and it repeats the pattern established by Rubens in other similarly composed equestrian portraits he painted (i.a. the portrait of Giancarlo Doria, 1602, Florence, the Palazzo Vecchio; the portrait of Duke of Lerma, 1603, Madrid, the Museo del Prado).