National Museum, Kraków

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National Museum in Kraków
National Museum in Kraków logo.svg
Building of the National Museum in Kraków, 01.jpg
Established7 October 1879
Location3 May Street
Kraków, Poland
TypeNational museum
DirectorPh.D. Andrzej Betlej

The National Museum in Kraków (Polish: Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie), popularly abbreviated as MNK, established in 1879,is the biggest museum in Poland and is the main branch of Poland's National Museum, which has several independent branches with permanent collections around the country. The Museum consists of 21 departments which are divided by art period; 11 galleries, 2 libraries, and 12 conservation workshops. It holds some 780,000 art objects, spanning from classical archeology to modern art, with special focus on Polish painting.[1][2]


Kraków National Museum was first housed at the upper floor of the Renaissance Sukiennice building located at the Main Square in the Kraków Old Town, now home to one of its most popular divisions in the city. The construction of the Museum's contemporary New Main Building located at 3 Maja Street, started in 1934, but was interrupted by World War II. It was fully completed only in 1992, after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc.[1] The collections – consisting of several hundred thousand items in total – are kept in big part in the Main Building where the administrative offices are located, but also in the nine of its divisions around the city.[1]

During World War II the collection was looted by the German fascist invaders.[3] After the war the Polish Government retrieved many of the works seized by the Germans. Still more than 1,000 artifacts are missing, including The Fight Between Carnival and Lent (which Polish authorities allege was stolen in 1939 by German invaders, reportedly taken away and sold in Vienna, and currently resides in the Kunsthistorisches Museum there) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (donated to the Museum in 1937 by Stanisław Ursyn-Rusiecki) and priceless others.[3][4]


The Main Building features the newly renovated upper Gallery of the Twentieth Century Polish Art, one of the largest galleries of painting and sculpture from the late 19th century on in Poland, with most celebrated artwork by Jacek Malczewski, Leon Wyczółkowski, Włodzimierz Tetmajer; an extensive collection of works by Stanisław Wyspiański; and also, works by artists of the interwar and postwar periods: the Polish cubists, expressionists, colorists, the avant-garde of the 1930s, and representatives of New Directions from the 1960s.[1]

Paintings in the collection include masterpieces of the Young Poland movement (Konrad Krzyżanowski, Olga Boznańska, Józef Pankiewicz, Władysław Ślewiński, Wacław Szymanowski, , Jan Stanisławski, Tadeusz Makowski). Polish avant-garde is represented by , Leon Chwistek, Tytus Czyżewski, , , Jan Cybis, Hanna Rudzka-Cybisowa, , , Józef Czapski, Piotr Potworowski, , .

The collection of post-war art includes works by Tadeusz Kantor, , Maria Jarema, Jerzy Nowosielski, Andrzej Wróblewski, Katarzyna Kobro, Alina Szapocznikow, , Katarzyna Kozyra. It also holds works by a wide range of influential contemporary Polish artists including , , Wilhelm Sasnal, , , , , and .


The Main Building has a vast display of militaria ranging from 12th to 20th century, including Polish armor from 16th and 17th centuries, Polish sabers, firearms, saddles and caparisons, military uniforms from 18th to 20th century, military orders, medals, and distinctions. The Museum holdings also include a collection of Western and Eastern European weapons. The militaria are presented at the "Arms and Colours" exhibition.

Decorative arts[]

Decorative arts and crafts are exhibited in the Decorative Arts and Crafts Gallery, with gold, silver and precious stone artifacts ranging from twelfth to eighteenth century; copper, pewter and iron objects, such as bowls and wrought iron chests; old furniture, musical instruments, clocks, ceramics and glass, notably stained glass from the churches of Kraków. The Museum has one of Poland's largest collections of Polish and Oriental antique rugs and carpets, as well as a collection of sixteenth to twentieth century costumes.

Museum Divisions[]

Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, bas-relief by Veit Stoss.
  1. The Main Building, at 3 Maja St., featuring nearly 500 works by Poland's leading modern artists.
  2. Gallery of the 19th Century Polish Art in Sukiennice, with the collection of some of the best known paintings of the Young Poland Movement, including sculpture.
  3. Czartoryski Museum, Library and Arsenal, world-famous for Leonardo's painting of Lady with an Ermine. The museum has other old masters on display including dramatic landscape by Rembrandt.
  4. The latest division called EUROPEUM with Brueghel among a hundred Western European paintings was inaugurated in 2013.[5]
  5. Bishop Erazm Ciołek Palace with polish gothic, renaissance and baroque art
  6. Stanisław Wyspiański Museum
  7. Jan Matejko House on Floriańska Street
  8. Józef Mehoffer House - artist's house
  9. Szołayski's House - temporary exhibitions
  10. Emeryk Hutten-Czapski Museum - numismatic collection
  11. Karol Szymanowski Museum at Villa Atma in Zakopane
  12. Cracovia Hotel

In 2009 a new project "Museum Forum" was launched to promote art in front of National Museum's Main Building. The winning design from architect Michal Bernasik was than chosen.[6]


Wartime losses[]

See also[]


  1. ^ Jump up to: a b c d "Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie". Instytucje kultury. Adam Mickiewicz Institute. Archived from the original on October 12, 2012. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  2. ^ "Zbiory (Collections)". O muzeum (About the Museum) (in Polish). Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie. 2009. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  3. ^ Jump up to: a b Monika Kuhnke. Przyczynek do historii wojennych grabieży dzieł sztuki w Polsce. Druga wojna światowa (Introduction to the history of looting in Europe. World War II) (in Polish). Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  4. ^ Maria Romanowska-Zadrożna, Tadeusz Zadrożny (2000). Wartime losses - Foreign painting. Ministry of Culture, Art and National Heritage of Poland. p. 115.
  5. ^ Ministry of Culture (2013-09-13). "Otwarcie Europeum – Ośrodek Kultury Europejskiej nowego oddziału Muzeum Narodowego w Krakowie" [Centre of European Culture, new branch of National Museum opened]. Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  6. ^ Radio Poland (21 June 2011). "Winner announced for National Museum's new Forum". . Retrieved 8 April 2016.

External links[]

Coordinates: 50°03′36″N 19°55′26″E / 50.06000°N 19.92389°E / 50.06000; 19.92389

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