The list of 36 museums in Krakow including separate branches of the National Museum in Krakow and the City of Krakow Historical Museum, but also a Leonardo's masterpiece.
Krakow National Museum with its ten branches and two libraries is Poland’s biggest. Most interesting museums in Krakow are The Czartoryskis Museum (Muzeum Ksiazat Czartoryskis), Royal Castle (Zamek Krolewski), Bishop Ciolek Palace (Palac Biskupa Ciolka) exhibiting medieval art, Museum of Archeology (Muzeum Archeologiczne), and Aviation Museum (Muzeum Lotnictwa).
World-famous for Leonardo's painting Lady with an Ermine, the museum has other old masters' splendid works as well, a dramatic landscape by Rembrandt among them. Other exhibits include masterpieces of ancient European craft (furniture, china, glass, tapestry, etc.), an excellent collection of arms, and Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities. Polish history and national character can be better understood thanks to the museum’s invaluable display of items pertaining to Poland's memorable events and personalities. The museum's old-fashioned arrangement resembles private museums of the past and makes it truly charming (actually its exhibits were put together by The Czartortyskis family and given to the nation). The museum is located in the Old Town historic area in the complex made up of the City Armory, the adjacent monastery library and three old buildings at the corner of Sw. Jana and Pijarska streets.
19 Sw. Jana street
** Closed for remodeling till late 2012, part of the museum's collections being moved to the Niepolomice castle for an exhibition there open from April 2010. Da Vinci's Lady with an Ermine is expected to be temporarily displayed at the National Museum's branch in Bishop Ciolek Palace at 17 Kanonicza street from March 2012.
Main building of Poland’s richest museum, with branches scattered all around Krakow’s downtown, is the chief venue for temporary exhibitions–sometimes sensational, always interesting. The gallery of the 20th-century Polish art upstairs houses nearly 500 outstanding works by Poland’s modern artists, with a tilt towards those most important for Krakow. Arranged with regard to schools and trends rather than chronology the exhibits provide a wide cross-section of the Polish art, starting from the 1890s up to now. Also permanent are two other exhibitions: of decorative art and of the Polish arms and army uniforms.
1 Al. 3 Maja street
City of Krakow Historical Museum
History of Krakow and its citizens. Maps, documents and city stamps. Portraits, scepters and rings of Lord Mayors. Guild utensils. And the collection of famous Krakow Christmas cribs. Krakow's Historical Museum has a number of branches scattered around the city and most of them operate as separate museums, e.g. Schindler's Factory, Old Synagogue, and Hipolitow House.
Royal Castle on the Wawel Hill
It was home to three dynasties of Poland's monarchs. Royal Chambers feature priceless art, best period furniture and rare ancient objects (the collection of the 16th-century monumental Flemish tapestries is matchless). Crown Treasury and Armory display the Polish royal memorabilia, jewels and other precious items, and the 15th to 18th-century arms. The Lost Wawel is an archeological reserve and multimedia tour through the history of the Wawel Hill. Oriental Art includes Turkish tents and banners, Turkish and Persian weapons and carpets, Chinese and Japanese ceramics.
Manggha - Museum of Japanese Art and Technology
The wave-shaped building of the Manghha Museum on the bank of the Wisla river just opposite the Wawel Hill was designed by Arata Isozaki, Japan's prominent architect. It houses part of the Krakow National Museum’s Japanese collections such as fabulous Japanese woodcuts, porcelain, splendid artifacts of ancient handicraft, ornate weaponry, etc. Many of them were amassed by Feliks “Manggha” Jasienski, a wealthy Polish connoisseur, by the end of the 19th century and donated to the National Museum in Krakow in 1920. The Manggha Center organizes various temporary exhibitions, concerts, presentations, etc., pertaining mostly but not exclusively to Japan’s national heritage or its present-day achievements. Its modern auditorium is a popular venue for concerts of classical music and jazz as well as conferences in Krakow.
26 Konopnickiej street
Palace of Bishop Erasmus Ciolek
Treasures of old art, from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance to the Baroque, fit the early-16th-century Palace of Bishop Erasmus Ciolek that has been turned into a branch of the Krakow National Museum. After thorough renovation it has regained its historic splendor of a lavish aristocratic residence at the dawn of the Renaissance. Its ground floor contains the museum’s collection of the Orthodox church art from the 15th to the 20th century, Poland’s best. Upstairs there is room for the Polish medieval church art of the 15th and 16th centuries, a collection of portraits of the nobility from the 16th century to the 18th century, and the ancient village art. The museum’s crown jewels are two Gothic sculptures, the Madonna of Kruzlowa from circa 1420 and ‘Gethsemane’ by Veit Stoss of circa 1485.
The only place on the earth where one can see a Slavonic god, because none has been ever unearthed save Krakow’s 8-foot-tall stone idol of four-faced Swiatowit. The museum’s permanent exhibitions include ‘Krakow a Thousand Years Ago’, ‘Ancient and Medieval Malopolska’, ‘Ancient Egypt', and ‘Gods of Ancient Egypt'. The place is also known for interesting and ingenious temporary displays. The museum’s seat used to be an early-medieval fortress and then a palace turned monastery turned prison.
3 Poselska street
MOCAK - Museum of Contemporary Art
Modern museum built on the grounds of Schindler’s Factory exhibits its modest collection alongside temporary shows. MOCAK’s two most important aims are presenting the art of the two last decades in the context of the post-war avant-garde and conceptual art as well as clarifying the rationale of creating art by highlighting its cognitive and ethical value and its relationship with everyday reality. Designed in order to achieve balance between past and the future, built in pavilions of the former Schindler’s Factory, opens an important chapter in cultural life of the city.
4 Lipowa street
The Museum boasts unique daguerreotypes, old photographs, cameras, studio and darkroom equipment. Temporary exhibitions display photos of the present day and the past. Laid out in several cupboard-size rooms that also play host to a series of changing photographic exhibitions, an old darkroom, heaps of ancient cameras and a nice collection of historical images of Krakow. The museum organizes exhibitions, spreads knowledge, conducts research and education activities and cooperates regionally, nationally and internationally with individuals, local government units, institutions of art and culture, government offices, companies and museum associations.
16 Jozefitów street
Jewish Museum Old Synagogue
The ‘Tradition and Culture of Polish Jews’ permanent exhibition in the 15th-century Old Synagogue features ancient items from Krakow synagogues, exhibits pertaining to religious rites and family traditions, and pictures of the life of the Kazimierz Jewish quarter of the old.
24 Szeroka street
Oskar Schindler’s Factory
Permanent exhibition in Schindler’s Factory is called ‘Krakow under Nazi Occupation 1939-1945’ and shows the city’s wartime experiences through set-piece arrangements and multimedia as well as artefacts and documents. Part of the museum has been set aside for temporary displays.
4 Lipowa street
Polish Aviation Museum
Airplanes, helicopters, aircraft engines, etc. on the former Rakowice Airfield, where the first Polish plane, built in Krakow in 1910, once landed. Over 200 exhibits, often unique, and in some cases dating back to the Great War.
17 Jana Pawla II street
Mostly John Paul II memorabilia. Also historic church art - from medieval to the baroque - plus old vestments and goldsmithery. The museum takes up two palatial Renaissance residences of Krakow canons at 19 and 21 Kanonicza street. Father Karol Wojtyla, future Pope John Paul II, lived here from 1951 to 1963. Visitors can see his recreated rooms with some of his personal belongings.
21 Kanonicza street
Poland’s biggest ethnographic museum with the world’s largest collection of Polish national costumes. A majority of the objects come from the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, though there are older objects, such as the 17th century fragments of iconostases or the 18th century Tibetan collection. Particularly valuable are the collections of archival manuscripts, drawings, photographs and glass plates, and the collections of postcards and leaflets.
1 Wolnica Pl, Kazimierz Town Hall
Museum of Municipal Engineering
Old vehicles and means of the Krakow public transport on the site of the city’s former streetcar shed dating back to 1900. Plus exhibits illustrating presence of the technology in everyday life over the last two centuries. The collections include objects associated with municipal engineering, the history of public transport in Krakow, the development of the Polish automobile industry, and industry and craftsmanship.
15 Sw. Wawrzynca street
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