The holdings of the Emeryk Hutten-Czapski Museum acquired an unusual collection of coins from the area of Syria and Palestine, as well as archaeological artifacts and mementoes, numbering almost 13,000 objects. The items were gathered during World War II, as well as after the war, by soldiers of the Polish II Corps commanded by General Władysław Anders and Father Stefan Jabłonowski-Pietruszka.
From 1944, the collection was preserved in Jerusalem, initially under the care of Father Jabłonowski-Pietruszka, a priest and guardian of Poles living in the Middle East. The objects were displayed in the so-called Polish Museum, created by the priest in 1955 in rooms III and IV – "Polish" Stations of the Cross. Following the passing of Father Jabłonowski-Pietruszka in 1973, the collection was in the care of sisters from the New House of the Congregation of Sisters of St. Elizabeth in Jerusalem. After the return of the III-IV Station of the Cross to the Armenian Church, and thus the closure of the museum, the historical items were packed and taken away, eventually to the Polish Embassy in Tel Aviv.
Thanks to the efforts of Polish diplomacy and personal involvement of Professor Mariusz Mielczarek from the Polish Academy of Sciences, after obtaining the permission of the Israel Antiquities Authority the collection was brought to Poland and transferred to the National Museum in Krakow by the decision of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
On 14 July 2016, Professor Piotr Gliński, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture and National Heritage, presented the donation to the National Museum in Krakow.
During the minister's visit, the Museum also organised an official presentation of 'Portrait of Szymon Darowski'
– Jan Matejko's painting dating back to 1858, purchased thanks to a grant from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The National Museum in Krakow acquired the work using its right of pre-emption during an auction in June 2016 held in Agra Art Auction House. The painting was auctioned for 300,000 pln.
The work can be viewed until the end of 2016 in the Jan Matejko House
(ul. Floriańska 41), where it is displayed together with 'Portrait of Professor Karol Gilewski'
, painted by Matejko in 1872 and recently subjected to conservation works. The painting was acquired by the National Museum in Krakow in January this year.