A New Beginning. Modernism in the Second Polish Republic

Friday, July 29, 2022 - Sunday, February 12, 2023

  • Friday, July 29, 2022 - Sunday, February 12, 2023

The exhibition presents the dynamics and original character of modernism in Poland in the interwar period, using various exhibits for this purpose: from works of art to technical inventions, from architecture to fabric designs, from furniture to everyday objects.

How to design a functional kitchen? Why have spas and sanatoriums become so popular? How to create cities to be useful? The answers to these questions were formulated shortly after Poland regained independence, creating innovative modernisation programmes.

The exhibition deals with the most important aspects of both complex processes – such as building a new state or social reforms – as well as everyday life changing under the influence of technological development. These phenomena are presented against the background of philosophical and globalist debates on the mechanisms of modernisation and their impact on European identity.

The examples of architectural objects, urban concepts and interior design elements presented at the exhibition speak of modernist ambitions to rationalise living space. Examples of painting, photographic and typographic experiments show attempts to deepen and renew human vision. Selected technical devices and their images prove the modernists’ fascination with technology. The representations of nudes, sports competitions and sanatorium facilities are an expression of the modernist politics of the body, while the echoes of the artistic tradition revealed in works of art prove the modernist search for sources of creative inspiration.

Artists, along with many reformers of other areas of human life, experiencing the accelerating modernity, came to the conclusion that art should take an active part in the great work of repairing the modern world and help to create it anew, but without repeating the mistakes of the past.

The Main Building

al. 3 Maja 1

The central phenomena of the Polish art of the 20th and 21st century, the history of Polish weaponry and uniforms, a gallery of crafts, and a dozen major temporary exhibitions each year.

The quickly expanding collection of the National Museum, set up in 1879, soon needed space that Kraków did not have at that time. That is why the idea to erect a new building that at the same time would commemorate the many years of efforts to regain Poland’s independence was born early in the 20th century. Immediately after the end of the First World War, already in free Poland, funds for the construction of an appropriate seat began to be raised. The construction of the building by the imposing Aleje Trzech Wieszczów, staked out just two decades earlier, began in 1934. Today, the National Museum in Kraków boasts several branches, with no fewer than three permanent galleries in the Main Building alone. Deposited on the ground floor are the collections of militaria: the exhibition Arms and Uniforms in Poland (gallery closed until further notice) presents the history of the Polish military from the Middle Ages to the Second World War. The Gallery of Decorative Arts boasts collections of fabrics, goldsmithry, glass, ceramics, furniture, musical instruments, and Judaica that let the visitor trace changes in style from the early Middle Ages to the 20th century. The Polish Art Gallery presents the chronology and key tendencies in painting, sculpture and printmaking as created by the Polish artists of the 20th and 21st century. The largest temporary exhibitions of the National Museum in Kraków are organised in specially designed halls.

Tickets to permanent galleries: normal PLN 28, concessions PLN 15, family PLN 56, admission free to permanent exhibitions on Tuesday

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