In 2016, we are we are commemorating two round anniversaries of the deaths of the founders of the Emeryk Hutten-Czapski Museum: 120 years have passed since the death, in Krakow, of Count Emeryk Hutten-Czapski (1828-1896), an outstanding collector and owner of the greatest collection of Polish coins and medals and the initiator of the Counts Czapski museum, and 100 years have passed since the death, in Mink, Belarus, of his wife Elżbieta Hutten-Czapska née Baroness Meyendorff (1833―1916), the real founder of the Emeryk Hutten-Czapski Museum and the one who donated it to the City of Krakow. These anniversaries provide an opportunity to recall some less known facts from the last years of their lives and show the private side of this unique couple.
The Czapskis are usually, quite automatically, considered a family strongly connected with Krakow. Little wonder as it is in this city and not somewhere else that one can find the Emeryk Hutten-Czapski museum, the street named after the Czapskis is located nearby and Emeryk himself was buried in the Rakowicki Cemetery. However, the couple did not have close links with the city. Emeryk came from the Pomeranian line of the Czapski family, settled in Belarus in the 19th century, and Elżbieta - from the Livonian gentry of German descent, from the vicinity of Riga. They were both tsarist subjects, so their coming, in 1894, from Stańków, not far from Minsk, to Krakow, where they wanted to find “their new place on earth” was kind of sensation.
Both the Czapski family and Emeryk and Elżbieta Hutten-Czapski are commemorated at the permanent exhibition in the Czapski Palace in two rooms where visitors can also find detailed information about the history of the Museum.
In the library of old prints in the Czapski Palace visitors have an opportunity to find out above all about the relations of the Czapskis with Krakow in 1894–1916. On show are above all documents and citations from the letters and memoirs of both the Czapskis themselves and their contemporaries. One can see how they were getting ready to move to Krakow, find out about the reactions of the locals to their arrival in Galicia and the hopes associated with it as well as learn about the Krakow stage of the life of Elżbieta Hutten-Czapska, who did not leave the city, after all strange to her, after her husband’s death and stayed here until her death, spending winter months at the foot of Wawel hill.
The second aim of the exhibition is to recall Elżbieta Hutten-Czapska’s demanding role as a continuator of her husband’s work and her services for Polish culture, which is particularly worth emphasising taking into consideration the aversion to Poland and the Poles of the families she came from (among others her grandfather Otto Magnus von Stackelberg (1736–1800) ratified the first partition of Poland).
Elżbieta Czapska was also an illustrator and publisher of the catalogues of the collection amassed by her husband, as well as the benefactor of the National Museum in Krakow.
Last but not least, it is also an exhibition about a beautiful and extremely strong relationship of two people, filled with love and respect for the family, tradition, culture and finally – love for Poland, which Emeryk Hutten-Czapski was learning throughout his life and the understanding of which was adopted by Elżbieta, who continued her husband’s work of lifetime. This affection is evidenced by some small details, such as the fact that Czapski wrote, with great care, his wife’s initials with the diminutive of her name “Lise” under each of her drawings and that he marked the evangelical church on the street plan of Krakow “for Elżbieta” as well as by Countess Czapska’s notes, heartbreaking and filled with undying love, concerning the death of her husband with whom she had spent over forty years of her life. It is an exhibition about love which increased with the passing of time and the result of which was the creation of the Emeryk Hutten-Czapski Museum in Krakow.
Curator: Mateusz Woźniak
Co-ordinator: Katarzyna Maniak
Layout and design: Piotr Broda