National Museum in Gdansk
The National Museum in Gdansk is the heir of the City Museum (Stadtmuseum) and the Musem of Decorative Arts (Kunstgewerbemuseum). Established in 1872 through the efforts of Rudolf Freitag, the lecturer at the Royal School of Fine Arts, it was called the Pomeranian Museum until its reopening after World War II as the City Museum.
Under its new name, the museum continued to grow. Several departments developed into stand-alone museum establishments: the Maritime Museum (1960), the Archaeological Museum (1962), and the Historical Museum of the City of Gdansk (1971). In 1972, this quickly expanding museum system was elevated to the rank of a National Museum. The present-day administrative structure of the Gdansk National Museum includes the Museum of Tradition of Nobility, the Museum of the National Anthem, the Gdansk Photography Gallery, Green Gate Branch, the Department of Ethnography, the Department of Modern Art, and the Department of Ancient Art, which is housed in the main building.
The main building is a post-Franciscan monastery constructed in the 15th and early 16th-centuries. Destroyed by Prussian and Napoleonic troops between 1807 and 1814, it was partly restored and enlarged between 1867 and 1872. The war activities of 1945 left the monastery 65-percent damaged. Luckily, the Gothic ground floor that holds arcades, refectories, and halls survived. The restoration between 1946 and 1956 brought the building back to its original appearance.
The holdings of ancient art have mainly been acquired through bequests and donations by the burghers and craft guilds of Gdansk. Many of the exhibits are church deposits. Pre-eminent in the holdings is a collection of paintings, prints, and drawings presented by the Gdansk-based Scottish merchant, Jacob Kobrun (b. 1759 – d. 1814). Originally numbering some 10,000 works by European artists from the 15th-century onwards, the collection lost two-thirds of its exhibits during World War II. However, it still remains one of Poland's most valuable collections. Another strength of the National Museum is its holdings of 13th to 15th-century textiles and embroideries from Europe's leading decorative textile-making centres. A property of the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the collection was presented to the museum by the Gdansk Protestant community in 1937. However, it suffered depletion both during and after World War II, and now numbers only half of the initial 541 exhibits. Other holdings of decorative arts and crafts were badly depleted as well. Today, the museum's holdings are facing another major threat from claims made by the Catholic Church authorities. The Church has demanded the return of works of art that were brought to the museum from the destroyed churches after 1945, in addition to those which were successively presented by the Protestant communities and municipal authorities after 1872.
The Gdansk Museum also boasts a collection of the 12th to 16th-century Pomeranian and West European sculpture. It holds two valuable altars, the Mourning of Christ and Assumption, both dating from ca. 1410, and a Romanesque sculpture of Mary enthroned from ca. 1170-1200. In addition to these religious pieces, the museum is also home to 16th and 17th-century Dutch, Flemish, and Pomeranian paintings; drawings and prints from Dutch and German schools dating from the 15th through 19th-centuries; works by Gdansk smiths and goldsmiths of the Baroque period; late medieval pewter exhibits made in Gdansk as well as in Pomeranian and European workshops; Gdansk, Pomeranian and North European furniture ranging in date from the late Middle Ages to Baroque and Rococo; ceramics, especially tiles; kitchen and earthware, including Gdansk stoves, Dutch, French, Swedish and Polish faience, Silesian stoneware, Dresden china, and more. While the museum specialises in old art, mostly from the areas of Gdansk and Pomerania, it also possesses Polish paintings representative of romantic to inter-war movements, including painters of such renown as Piotr Michalowski, Stanislaw Wyspianski, Jacek Malczewski and Olga Boznanska.
- Paintings in GdanskInteriors Gdansk
- Gold XIV-XX; Ceramics XV-XX
- 'The Last Judgement' by Hans Memling
- Dutch and Flemish Painting
- Permenant Gallery of Polish Modern Art
- Folk Culture of Gdansk Pomerania
- The Fate of the National Anthem
- Joseph Wybicki and His Time
- Polish National Symbols
- Interiors of the Palace in Great Waplewo.
Muzeum Narodowe w Gdańsku
ul. Toruńska 1
Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm; closed Mondays and public holidays
Phone: (+48 58) 301 68 04