New exhibition of sacral art 13th – 20th centuries
In the year 2001 we commemorate 95th foundation anniversary of the Diocesan Museum attached to Wawel Cathedral. In order to found the Museum, the chapter purchased two tenement houses from Mansionaries. In 1904 Cardinal Jan Puzyna appealed to the priests of Kraków Archdiocese for help in the restoration of rooms destined to house the exhibition. The appeal gained warm response.
Works were supervised by Mr. Zygmunt Hendel, local architect, who made real efforts to prepare 6 rooms for the Museum. In 1906 Czesław Wądolny, the Prelate and Canon of the Metropolitan Chapter at Wawel Castle, was appointed to act as the director of the Museum.
The Cardinal Puzyna appealed again to the clergy for financial support in organising the Museum and restoring works of art. Following the opportunity, the Cardinal Puzyna addressed the letter to parish priests, asking them to check through the vestment, pictures and sculpture, which due to poor condition did not serve the cult purposes and might be handed over to the Museum. In this way the Museum started to gather the sacral pieces, which were stored throughout nearly 100 years in a number of places, until in 1994 they were open to the public in the premises in 19 and 21 Kanonicza Street.
It is worth mentioning that almost all obtained exhibits required restoration, which created the necessity to establish a restoration studio for the Museum’s use. Within the period of 7 years the studio restored more than 200 works of art.
Seven-year period of the Museum activity was marked with considerable growth of its collection and nowadays it comprises approx. 200 works of art restored in the Museum’s studio, exhibits deposited by parishes and numerous gifts. As the collection has grown it created the need to develop a new conception how to show the increasing number of exhibits to the public. Currently opened exhibition is the outcome of such a conception.
New exhibition of sacral art covers painting, sculpture, handicraft, vestments and a special section dedicated to Pope John Paul II.
The exhibition is rich in paintings and encompasses the examples of sacral painting from the area of Kraków Archdiocese. The oldest and the most precious exhibit is the painting depicting St. Agnes and St. Catherine from parochial church in Dębno Podhalańskie originating from the second half of the 13th century. This painting is the oldest example of table painting in Poland. Several other table pictures from the 15th and the 16th centuries, which are exhibited in the Museum, mark the progress of guild painting from the territory of Małopolska province.
The best and the most numerous representations of Polish painting come from the 17th and the 18th centuries. “Christ Taken Down from the Cross” - mid 17th century from the main altar of the chapel of Archbishops’ Palace in Kraków, “Way to Golgotha” from parochial church in Bodzanów, “The Last Judgement” from parochial church in Przytkowice are among the most famous. Other group of exhibits is Polish and European pictorial art, which is the property of Ciechanowieccy Fund in Warsaw, constituting a permanent deposit in the Archdiocesan Museum for a couple of years.
The most precious pieces of sacral sculpture from the territory of Kraków Archdiocese are the group of gothic sculptures of Our Lady with the Child: from Gruszów (approx. 1380), Więcławice (1400), Racławice Olkuskie (1400), Czulice (1400) and Ludźmierz (1420) and Crucifixion Groups: from Krzyszkowice (end of 14th c.), Racławice Olkuskie (1520). First time in history the exhibition displays the group of baroque sculptures from apse of the Wawel Royal Cathedral (approx. 1770).
Gold-work presented on the exhibition does not form a large collection due to the fact, that liturgical vessels are still in use in churches. The pieces exhibited in the Museum help to appreciate the progress of goldsmith work in the region at the background of the evolution of the European art. Among the others the exhibition shows: a chalice with paten (approx. 1360) – a gift from Pope John Paul II for the Museum, a chalice from Nowa Góra (1500), monstrance from Korzkiew (1640), a censer with boat (1620) from parochial church in Zielonki.
Vestments are largely represented at the exhibition. They cover the period from the 15th to the 20th centuries. The most valuable are the chasubles from parochial church in Bolechowice (15th c.) and two deposited chasubles from the beginning of the 16th century. Exhibited pieces show the development of embroidery throughout a few hundred years. Embroidery collection is also enriched with bishops’ mitres, the oldest coming from the end of the 17th century.
Special feature of the Museum is the fact, that in the tenement house occupied currently by the Museum Pope John Paul II lived, as a priest, from 1952 to 1967. The Museum displays the furnished room of the priest Karol Wojtyła, which was occupied by him until he was appointed a bishop and also shows the flat of the Archbishop Cardinal Karol Wojtyła. Visitors may see personal memorabilia of the priest Karol Wojtyła and also the gifts for Pope John Paul II presented to him on numerous occasions. The most common are gifts from his apostolic journeys, audiences with statesmen and individuals. A considerable number of such gifts was given to the Archdiocesan Museum by Pope John Paul II himself. Particular attention should be paid to papal medals issued by the Vatican and also Polish papal medals issued to commemorate the papal visits to Poland. Medals are complemented with series of photographs portraying the pontificate of Pope John Paul II taken by the photographer Adam Bujak.
The whole exhibition is arranged in rooms furnished with baroque and the 19th century furniture. Worthy of notice is the furniture set from 1905 manufactured according to the design of Mr. Karol Tichy and having been the property of the Bishop Stanisław Rospond.
The exhibition encompasses a total of approx. 400 works of art housed in 16 historic rooms. Preparing the new exhibition we tried to create suitable conditions for pedagogical activity, which is carried out by the Museum in particular among the pupils.