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The Emeryk Hutten-Czapski Museum constitutes the oldest and largest branch of the National Museum in Krakow. The neo-classical Czapski Palace, built in 1884 and designed by Antoni Siedek, functions as its main building and houses the world-renowned exhibition presenting the history of Polish coinage and medal art.
The history of this branch is inextricably linked with the person of Count Emeryk Hutten-Czapski (1828-1896), the greatest Polish collector-numismatist, bibliophile, collector of Polish prints, works of art and memorabilia. In the course of his lifetime's work, he amassed a collection of Polish coins, medals and banknotes regarded as the most valuable in history. After his death, a private museum was opened in a pavilion designed by Tadeusz Stryjeński and built as an extension to the palace. In 1903, by the decision of the collector's wife - Elżbieta Czapska neé Meyendorff (1833-1916) and her sons, it was donated to the National Museum through the Municipality of Krakow.
The Emeryk Hutten-Czapski Museum functioned with its permanent exhibition until 1939, after which it was closed to the public for over 70 years. Today, as a result of the implementation of the EU-funded project „European Centre for the Polish Numismatics”, we can once again admire the priceless treasures stored therein .
The numismatic collection, still expanding in the palace, now boasts over 100,000 objects, including 2,500 most valuable items which can be admired on display occupying almost the entire building. The beautiful, renovated rooms of the palace and unique interiors of the museum pavilion will delight the visitors with numerous unique or even legendary coins and the most beautiful medals, along with the rarest old prints and maps.
The motto of this outstanding collection and its importance for the Polish culture and history is reflected in the inscription placed on the pediment of the pavilion: Monumentis Patriae naufragio ereptis (For the National Memorabilia Saved from Destruction).
The back of the Palace overlooks a beautiful garden, which has kept its 19th-century character. Here, in the shade of over a hundred-year-old trees, one can admire a section of the lapidary collection, which contains fragments of Krakow Gothic buildings (eg. the original 14th-century pinnacle of St. Mary's Church).
The Museum serves as a centre dedicated to numismatics, carrying out both exhibition and research projects, workshops, conferences, displays and educational activities for children and adults of all levels.
The adjacent building (at no. 14 Józefa Piłsudskiego Street), donated to the National Museum in 1967 by the family of Władysław Łoziński - a Professor of the Jagiellonian University, and its annexe expanded in 2013 presently house: the Department of Old Prints and Manuscripts, the Department of Old Photographs, the Archives of the National Museum in Krakow, the Paper and Leather Conservation Studio, the Bookbinding Workshop and the Laboratory for Analysis and Non-Destructive Research into Artefacts (LANBOZ).
Text by Mateusz Woźniak, National Museum in Krakow
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