The National Museum of Krakow (Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie) founded in 1879. The beginning of the collection laid by the painting by Henryk Siemiradzki “Lights of Christianity. Torches of Nero”. The artist himself presented it to the museum being created, after which his example was followed by other authors. The first exhibition opened in 1883, the museum collected both works of contemporary Polish artists and historical canvases. The collection also received various national items, engravings, manuscripts, decorative and applied arts, numismatics. Foreign art also presented here.
The collection grew exponentially, it replenished with paintings, manuscripts, coins, jewelry and dishes. Initially, all this exhibited in the Cloth Rows on the central square of Krakow. But by the beginning of the 20th century, 100 thousand exhibits no longer fit in the old building. The construction of the new building began in 1934, and completed only by the end of the century.
What to see
The main building of the National Museum is occupied by two permanent exhibitions. The collection “Arms and Uniforms of Poland” contains armor of Polish hetmans and voivodes. Ancient swords and shields, axes and maces. In the “Gallery of Decorative Arts” there are fabrics, clothes, products made of gold, ceramics and glass. In addition, the structure of the museum complex includes 10 branches, including memorial museums of Polish artists. The Palace of Bishop Erasmus Tsiolek with masterpieces of medieval art. And the center “Europeum” with samples of European painting and sculpture.
The Gallery “Arms and Uniforms of Poland” covers an area of more than 1,200 sq.m. There are more than 2,000 exhibits telling about the armed forces, from the Middle Ages to the Second World War. In the showcases exhibited samples of decorative and applied art and memorable items related to great people and events. For example, the karatsena (armor) of the commander Stanisław Jabłonowski. The only surviving insignia of the hetman, which belonged to Hieronymus Lubomirski, personal belongings of Polish commanders, including their clothes. From the weapons you can see Polish swords, hussar weapons. The Polish uniform of the military from the XVIII to the XX centuries presented. Visitors can even try on helmets, swords, the uniform of a legionnaire of the First World War.
The “Gallery of Decorative Arts” contains objects from the early Middle Ages to Art Nouveau. Here you can see collections of gold, fabrics, clothes, furniture, ceramics, glass. Musical instruments, Judaica (artifacts of Jewish culture in Poland). In total, there are about 4,000 objects in 9 halls and in 2 more rooms. Of the most interesting exhibits are the Włocławek Cup of the X century. Elements of the stained glass window of the Dominican Church of Krakow. Polish faience of the XVIII century.
Art exhibitions held on the top floor. You can see what temporary exhibitions are currently taking place on the website of the National Museum in Krakow. Usually, works by Polish artists exhibited, but sometimes expositions of foreign great masters organized. For example, from 2017 to 2019, you could see Leonardo da Vinci’s painting “Lady with an Ermine” here.
The cost of entrance tickets to the Krakow National Museum. Depends on the category of citizens and on which exhibitions you want to visit:
- permanent exhibitions (“Gallery of Weapons and Uniforms of Poland”. “Gallery of Decorative Arts”): adults – 28 Polish zlotys (PLN). Privileged categories (schoolchildren, pupils of art schools, students, pensioners, disabled people, teachers). – 17 PLN, children under 16 years old and students under 26 years old. 1 PLN, family ticket (up to 5 people) – 56 PLN. A free ticket is provided to children under 7 years old. Museum staff, holders of national orders and a number of other categories;
On Sundays , free admission for everyone to the galleries of permanent exhibitions.
- artworks are exhibited in temporary exhibitions. The cost of their visit: adults – 25 PLN, privileged groups. 15 PLN, children under 16 years old and students up to 26 years old – 1 PLN, family ticket – 50 PLN;
- it is also proposed to purchase a comprehensive pass for permanent exhibitions of the museum and visits to all its branches: adults – 55 PLN, preferential groups – 35 PLN, family ticket – 110 PLN.
Tickets are sold at the box office, you can also buy them in advance, through the museum’s website. The audio guide to the museum is available in Polish, English, Russian, German and French: adults – 7 PLN, privileged groups – 5 PLN. You can also book a tour of the National Museum of Krakow, for this you need to book a visit by phone: +48 12 433 54 44 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. An excursion in a foreign language will cost 150 PLN, a walk through the museum – 250 PLN.
How to get to the National Museum of Krakow
The address of the museum: Prospekt 3 Maja, 1. Nearby there a stop “Muzeum Narodowe”, which reached by public transport:
- Tram no. 20.
- Buses No 109, 114, 124, 134, 144, 164, 169, 173, 179, 189, 194, 252, 304, 424, 469, 502, 503, 608.