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Ethnographic Musuem: 1 Plac Wolnica & ul. Krakowska 46

The building located on Plac Wolnica, which has been home to the Ethnographic Museum since 1949, also served as Kazimierz's town hall from the 15th to the 18th Century. In the past, Kazimierz was a distinct, self-administered town with a separate identity from Cracow.  In the 19th Century, the building was also used as a school for local children.

The Ethnographic Museum contains a permanent exhibition on Polish Folk Culture. It's worth noting that on the building's eastern wall there is a replica of Henryk Hoffman's bas-relief depicting the arrival of the Jews and their welcome by the Polish King, Casimir the Great, during the Middle Ages.

The exhibition is an absorbing journey into Polish village life, something that might sound slightly dry, or even boring, but the exhibition is designed in such a way that you cannot help but linger over the exhibits. 

This particular way of life is fast becoming the preserve of tourist kitsch, with "genuine" folk groups playing "genuine" folk music in the setting of a restaurant.  With more and more people living in the cities, and the resulting erosion of traditional village life, it is hard to imagine that the way of life portrayed by the museum still exists today.

The exhibition at Wolnica deals with village life in its entirety, from the role of the church, the clothes people wore, customs such as spring rites - with their associated overtones of fertility, to how people farmed the land and the implements they used.  All of these subject areas are given life with an interesting selection of exhibits.

The museum's quality and attention to detail is immediately evident.  Part of the ground floor has been set aside to show the regional differences in village housing giving visitors the opportunity to walk into the heart of a real village home from three different areas of Poland; Krakow, Silesia and Podhale, the latter being the mountain region of Poland and home to the wonderful Tatra mountains.

Any art lovers will find a vast array of paintings and drawings in Wolnica, there's even a display cabinet full of painted eggs - a tradition that has been kept alive up until the present day. There are also wood carvings and, although you might not categorise it as art, there is a wonderfully impressive display of Christmas cribs. 

In fact there is so much to mention the only way to do justice to the exhibition at Wolnica is to visit!  Anyone doing so should consider buying the museum guidebook, relatively cheap at 10PLN.  It provides in-depth information on the exhibits as well as giving Polish Folk Culture a historical context.  Even without a guidebook, there is a lot of information distributed around the museum in English.

The museum's second building on ul. Krakowska (about one minute from Wolnica) is much smaller and is only open to visitors when holding a temporary exhibition, often with the aim of covering themes that are not included in the permanent exhibition.  It remains worthy of a visit due to its close proximity to the main building on Plac Wolnica.

Opening Times and Prices:

October to April

May to September

Tickets

Monday

10:00 - 18:00

Monday

10:00 - 17:00

Regular 6 PLN
Students 4 PLN
Photography 22 PLN

Tuesday

Closed

Tuesday

Closed

Wednesday

10:00 - 15:00

Wednesday

10:00 - 17:00

Thursday

10:00 - 15:00

Thursday

10:00 - 17:00

Friday

10:00 - 15:00

Friday

10:00 - 17:00

Saturday

10:00 - 15:00

Saturday

10:00 - 17:00

Sunday

10:00 - 14:00

Sunday 

10:00 - 14:00

 


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