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Horn sceptre, the so-called bâton de commendement, from Maszycka Cave

The find comes from the excavations conducted in the Maszycka Cave by Gotfryd Ossowski in 1883 and is related with reindeer hunters (the so-called Magdalenian culture). The object was made from reindeer antlers. It is almost 30 cm long. It was found among the remains of several people (men, women and children).

“Princely” grave from Jakuszowice near Kazimierza Wielka

The find is dated back to the 1st half of the 5th century (before 434). It is one of the most interesting pieces of proof of contact between the peoples inhabiting the area of southern Poland and the Huns in the 1st half of the 5th century. The grave was discovered by accident in 1911 while mining sand. The majority of the excavated objects were smuggled to Kraków over the then Russian-Austrian border.

“A Bust of Lenin” by Xawery Dunikowski

Xawery Dunikowski (1875–1964) is one of the greatest Polish sculptors of the 20th century. The present bust of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin comes from the post-war period in the artist’s work. After the WWII, the ideas of social realism carried Dunikowski away. However, ideological activities did not translate into the form of his works: he remained faithful to the expressive, simplified form he developed in the interwar period.

Executioner's sword

In the collection of the Regional Museum in Olkusz, there is a well-preserved medieval sword. It is called an executioner's sword, because local legend claims that it was used for an execution carried out in the square in Olkusz. Scientific research does not, however, confirm such a hypothesis with regard to the presented exhibit.

Throne of Zanzibar

The throne, a decorative armchair (attribute of power and dignity) of ebony, consisting of 6 parts joined with pegs. The seat, backrest elements and footrest were made of cord woven from palm leaves. The decorations topping the backrest were made with the technique of inlaying with ivory. The outer edges of the backrest and footrest are decorated with wooden carvings in the form of spheres.

“Camera/Mr Daguerre’s invention” (“Wielopole, Wielopole”, 1980)

Kantor observed some analogy between photography and shooting, between a group posing for a photograph and a group of recruits lined up in a row. This field of association was used in one of the images from Wielopole, Wielopole, a performance that continued the themes/motifs from Umarła klasa [The Dead Class].

Tomasz Bajer, “Minimalism of Guantanamo”

The work is an accurate replica of Yasser Talal al Zahrani’s prison cell at the American detention camp for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Saudi prisoner died in 2006. The official cause of death was given as suicide. However, an examination by an independent pathologist showed traces of repeated beating, which could be indicative of torture. The work can be interpreted as a commentary on the abuse of human rights by imperialist powers, and the individual’s helplessness in the face of such behavior.

Silver fowler of The Fowler Brotherhood

The silver fowler of the Kraków Fowler Brotherhood is one of the most valuable objects in the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków. This is an example of the work of an outstanding goldsmith of Renaissance Kraków. Unfortunately, we do not know either the artist's name or the goldsmith's workshop responsible for the creation of the bird's sculpture. Very few of the marksmen's societies can boast of an original, well-preserved, cockrel of this type.

Sculpture “First whispers of love” (“Whispers of love”, “Secrets of love”) by Wiktor Brodzki

The scene shows the goddess Aphrodite leaning her head towards a winged Cupid to listen to what he wants to say to her. The goddess’s enigmatic smile suggests the frivolous character of the conversation. The artistic virtuosity: flawlessly smooth moulding and details rendered carefully are the typical features of Wiktor Brodzki’s sculptures.

Sculpture “Salome” by Walery Gadomski

Salome, the daughter of Herodias and stepdaughter of King Herod Antipas, danced so beautifully that the ruler let her ask for anything she wanted. Her wish, suggested by cruel Herodias, was John the Baptist’s head. Biblical Salome is one of frequent motifs in the iconography of European art. The archetype of a dangerous seductress fascinated artists of all epochs.

Painting “Portrait of King Augustus III in a Polish costume”

The representative room of the Bishop Erazm Ciołek Palace, known as the Room of Virtues, houses the gallery of old Polish portrait paintings that were common in the old Poland. For the nobility, their own images and depictions of their relatives and ancestors formed a vital factor for building family and social ties and documenting genealogy and affiliations.

Reliquary with St. Stanislaus’s hand

A reliquary in the form of a hand (forearm) placed on a polygonal base in a vertical position. The middle part of the reliquary is red (the sleeve of a robe) with visible relics put in a small rectangular panel obscured by a glass pane.

“Tank” (“Today Is My Birthday”, 1990)

Presented object was made for the play Today is my birthday Cricot 2 Theater, over which the artist worked from October 1989 to early December 1990. Tadeusz Kantor died after one of the last rehearsals, 8 of December 1990 year. The premiere took place shortly afterwards, in January 1991 at the Théâtre Garonne in Toulouse, then the play was shown in 22 cities around the world until June 1992.

Hunting arquebus

Hunting arquebus with a wheel-lock, after Jan Klemens Branicki (1689–1771), the Grand Hetman of the Crown. Old-time hunting, being an elite form of entertainment for the highest levels of society, required an adequate frame, created by, e.g., luxurious firearms. This kind of weapon was usually made from precious materials and artfully decorated in a style typical of the epoch.

Mace of the head of Zwierzyniec Borough

The presented mace was the symbol of the head of the Zwierzyniec Borough. The borough was founded in 1810, which we know thanks to the date stamped on its head. Around it, there is also the inscription: Państwo Zwierzyniec + Wieś Zwierzyniec [Zwierzyniec Country + Zwierzyniec Village].

Head of a ruler from Saqqara

Features of style, like treatment of the eyes, uraeus form and the soft outline of the nemes permit attribution to Ptolemaic times. Based on similarities with the head of a sphinx of 150 BC, it is possible to assume that our head had once belonged to a sphinx set up at Saqqara, if the place of discovery is anything to go by.

Manuscript “The privilege of Stanisław Koniecpolski for Jews from Tarnów” with a seal

Jewish settlements in Poland began during the period of the Piast dynasty and increased in the 14th-16th centuries. At first, Jews settled in larger towns, in search of better living conditions. The first Jews arrived in Tarnów in the mid-15th century. The proof of this is the mention of Kafel, a Jew, which can be found in the court files of Lviv from 1445.

Painting “Portrait of General Henryk Dembiński”

The painting shows Henryk Dembiński (1791–1864), a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, an outstanding commander and strategist in the November Uprising, and one of the leaders of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848–1849, sitting thoughtfully, in a staff tent. Under a veiled curtain, a battle scene is visible in the distance. The painting symbolically refers to the work of the master Rodakowski, Léon Cogniet (1794–1880), who — after the failure of the November Uprising — painted the picture Prague 1831, showing a fresh battlefield and an officer standing in front of it, whose attitude and facial expression were marked by determination and a desire for revenge.

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).

Edward Dwurnik, “Hunting a Dangerous Villain”

The painting was a response to Martial Law in Poland. It shows an imaginary city, which – as is the case with the majority of Dwurnik’s paintings – we view from above. At first glance, everything seems tranquil, stable and safe. Only a searching examination reveals the drama of a city taken over by the army.