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The Seweryn Udziela Museum of Ethnography in Krakow

The Seweryn Udziela Museum of Ethnography in Krakow

Main Building – City Hall,
1 Wolnica Square

“Esterka” building,
46 Krakowska St.

Opening hours:
Monday: closed
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday:
11.00 a.m.–7.00 p.m.
Thursday: 11.00 a.m.–9.00 p.m.
Sunday: 11.00 a.m.–3.00 p.m.

www.etnomuzeum.eu
sekretariat@etnomuzeum.eu
The museum is located in the former town hall of the city of Kazimierz, erected in the 15th c. in the Gothic style, and expanded in the Renaissance style in later centuries. The Town Hall houses an exhibition of Polish folk culture, while the second building, the so-called Esterka, is used for temporary exhibitions, which are organised in its beautifully vaulted cellars, dating from the 16th century. The museum was established in 1911, on the initiative of Seweryn Udziela, a teacher, amateur ethnographer and collector, who wanted to preserve the memory of the vanishing folk culture.

The museum collection, which expanded from Seweryn Udziela’s own collection, at present numbers over 80 thousand exhibits, with a large part of them dating from the late 19th c. and early 20th c. a majority of the exhibits come from Poland, but a significant part of them originate from other European countries, mainly Slavic ones, as well as countries beyond Europe; many of the latter have been donated to the museum by Polish travellers and researchers. The museum also possesses a rich archive, containing thousands of photographs, glass photographic plates, manuscripts and drawings, and a specialist library, where among 30 thousand volumes one can find also unique works.

Through both its buildings – the Town Hall and the “Esterka” tenement house, located in the former market square of the city of Kazimierz – the Ethnographic Museum is linked to the traditions of that district, which in the past was inhabited largely by Jews. According to a legend, the “Esterka” tenement house used to be the home of a Jewess called Esterka, who was a mistress of King Casimir the Great. In turn, at the time of the Krakow Republic, the Town Hall housed a folk school supported by the Jewish community, opened in 1830, and in 1837 transformed into an industry and trade school, with separate establishments for boys and girls. On the east wall of the Town Hall there is a relief commemorating the “Admission of Jews to Poland in the Middle Ages”, executed in 1907 by the sculptor and painter Henryk (Herschel) Hochman (1881–1943). The relief, discovered in the Warsaw National Museum, was fixed to the wall by the authorities of the city of Krakow in 1996, in place of a similar relief executed by the same artist, funded in 1910 by the Krakow Jewish community and destroyed by the Germans during World War II.

It is also worthwhile to visit the main building of the museum, where the permanent exhibition shows the culture of Polish peasants. Jews were present in that culture as innkeepers, shopkeepers, travelling salesmen, or artisans, and played the role of intermediaries between the countryside and the external world, bringing the peasants not only the necessary goods but also news from faraway places.
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The following Project is cofinanced by the European Union under the Małopolska Regional Operational Programme for the years 2007 – 2013