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The Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art in the Sukiennice closed for renovation on 31 August 2006. Its restoration and modernization were one of the biggest conservation investments in Europe, at a total cost of PLN 8,733,610.
Before the work could get underway all the artworks had to be evacuated from the Sukiennice: almost 1,300 paintings and sculptures, including such huge canvases (each measuring almost 30 m²) as Henryk Siemiradzki’s Nero’s Torches, Jan Matejko’s Prussian Homage and Kościuszko pod Racławice and Józef Chełmoński’s Four-in-Hand. In a pioneering move, the works were not packed away in storage for the duration of the renovation work, but displayed in a temporary gallery in the Royal Castle in Niepołomice.

During the renovation work, 120 tonnes of rubble were removed from the Sukiennice, 2,500 m² of flooring was laid, and 4 km of electrical wiring and 3 km of pipes installed. Some 30 tonnes of steel structures were replaced and 25 tonnes of installations such as ventilators, motors and air-conditioning units were taken out. A total of 1,800 m² of glass blocks, and hundreds of square metres of new or renovated windows and doors were put in and the roof was restructured. A lift for transporting pictures and a glass elevator for visitors were installed.

The official opening of the New Sukiennice after renovation and modernization lasting three years took place on 3 September 2010.

The Sukiennice has changed. The gallery makes more legible reference than before to its nineteenth-century appearance – the colours of 130 years ago have returned to its walls, plush couches and potted palms have appeared – but it is now a museum of and for the twenty-first century.

Completely new rooms fitted with state-of-the-art equipment have been created inside this historic building, offering an interactive, fascinating educational experience with the art here (audioguides and iPods). In the MULTITEKA, the multimedia room, the visitor, surrounded by nine glass screens, can be virtually transported 130 years back in time to the days when the museum in the Sukiennice was first opened. MEDIATEKA, a multifunctional computer room, is used for lectures and small meetings. It is equipped with “artomats”, specially programmed computer workstations with touch screens and software designed to teach visitors about the history of the Sukiennice, its collections, and artists through games and quizzes. There is a dedicated education room, ATELIER, where our extensive educational programme for children, young people and adults is conducted.

During our official three-day opening over the first weekend of September 2010, visitors could attend concerts, free tours of the gallery, happenings, a sale of museum publications, and workshops, as well as having a commemorative photograph taken. A central feature of the celebrations was the Farewell to the Museum Slipper, which was ceremonially consigned to a glass case as a relic of the past.

Prior to that, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Bogdan Zdrojewski, presented nominations to nearly twenty outstanding figures who had consented to act as Ambassadors for the gallery in the Sukiennice: Magdalena Abakanowicz, Magdalena Cielecka, Olga Grygier, Andrzej Klesyk, Katarzyna Kolenda-Zaleska, Juliusz Machulski, Barbara Marcinik, Enok Nygaard, Jerzy Owsiak, Alicja Resich-Modlińska, Bogusław Sonik, Jerzy Stuhr, Wisława Szymborska, Antoni Tajduś, Róża Thun, Grzegorz Turnau, Magdalena Wojewoda, Adam Zagajewski and Franciszek Ziejka.
In the first year from its opening, the New Sukiennice was visited by 200,000 people.

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