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Other Top Points From Gdynia (Gdansk), Poland

Gdynia Port
Archaeological Museum
Fortress of the Vistula River Mouth
History Museum
Malbork Castle
Maritime Museum
Neptune's Fountain
Oliwa Zoo
St. Mary's Church (Kosciol Mariacki)
Town Hall (Ratusz)

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National Art Museum

Address: Torunska 1

The National Museum in Gdansk is the heir of the City Museum (Stadtmuseum) and of the Musem of Decorative Arts (Kunstgewerbemuseum). Established in 1872 through the efforts of Rudolf Freitag, the lecturer at the Royal School of Fine Arts, it reopened after World War II as the City Museum, it was called the Pomeranian Museum until 1950 and was elevated to the rank of a National Museum in 1972. Over time its archaeological, maritime and historical departments developed into stand-alone museum establishments: the Maritime Museum in 1960, the Archaeological Museum in 1962 and the Historical Museum of the City of Gdansk in 1971. The present-day administrative structure of the Gdansk National Museum includes the Division of Modern Art, the Division of Ethnography, the Gdansk Gallery of Photography and the Museum of the National Anthem, with the main building housing the department of Old Art.

The main building is a post-Franciscan monastery constructed in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Destroyed by Prussian and Napoleon's troops in 1807-14, it was partly restored and enlarged in 1867-72. The war activities of 1945 left the monastery damaged in 65 per cent. Luckily, the Gothic ground floor with arcades, refectories and halls survived. The restoration, which lasted from 1946 to 1956, removed the nineteenth century, bringing the building back to its original appearance.

The holdings of Old Art have mostly been acquired through bequests and donations by the burghers and craft guilds of Gdansk. Many of the exhibits are church deposits. Pre-eminent in the holdings is a collection of paintings, prints and drawings presented by the Gdansk-based Scottish merchant, Jacob Kobrun (Cocburn), b. 1759 – d. 1814. Originally numbering some 10,000 works by European artists from the fifteenth century onwards, the collection lost two-thirds of its exhibits during World War II, but still remains one of Poland's most valuable collections of its kind. Another strength of the Museum are its holdings of the thirteenth to sixteenth century textiles and embroideries from Europe's leading decorative textile making centres. A property of the church of Blessed Virgin Mary, the collection was presented to the Museum by the Gdansk protestant community in 1937 and, depleted during and after World War II, now numbers only half of the initial 541 exhibits. Other holdings of decorative arts and crafts were badly depleted, too. Nowadays the Museum's holdings are facing another major threat, that of claims made by the church authorities. The church has demanded the return of not only the works of art which were brought to the Museum from the destroyed churches after 1945, but also of those which were successively presented by the Protestant communities and municipal authorities from 1872 onwards.

The Gdansk Museum boasts a collection of the twelfth to sixteenth century Pomeranian and West European sculpture, with two valuable altars, the Mourning of Christ and Assumption, both dating from ca. 1410, and a Romanesque sculpture of Mary enthroned from ca. 1170-1200; sixteenth and seventeenth century Dutch and Flemish paintings; sixteenth and seventeenth century Gdansk paintings; drawings and prints from Dutch and German schools of the fifteenth through nineteenth centuries; works by Gdansk smiths and goldsmiths of the Baroque period; late medieval pewter exhibits made in Gdansk as well as in Pomeranian and European workshops; Gdansk, Pomeranian and North European furniture ranging in date from the late Middle Ages to Baroque and Rococo; ceramics, especially tiles, Gdansk stoves, Dutch, French, Swedish and Polish faience, Silesian stoneware, Dresden china, etc. While the Museum specialises in old art, mostly from the areas of Gdansk and Pomerania, it also possesses Polish paintings representative of romantic to inter-war movements by painters of such renown as Piotr Michalowski, Stanislaw Wyspianski, Jacek Malczewski and Olga Boznanska.

Permanent exhibitions: "Medieval Fine Arts in Pomerania"; "Gdansk Painting of the 16th to 18th Century"; "Gallery of 19th Century Gdansk Artists"; "Polish Painting of the 19th and Early 20th Centuries"; "Gallery of Prints and Drawings"; "Works by 15th to 19th Century Goldsmiths"; "Pewter in the 15th to 19th Centuries"; "Works by Smiths and Goldsmiths of the 16th to 18th Centuries"; "18th Century Furniture Making in Gdansk and Eastern Pomerania"; "Old Ceramics: 15th to 20th Centuries".

National Museum in Gdansk
Muzeum Narodowe w Gdańsku
ul. Toruńska 1, 80-822 Gdańsk
Director: Wojciech Bonisławski
tel. (+48 58) 301 70 61-65
fax (+48 58) 301 11 25

Website: www.muzeum.narodowe.gda.pl (Polish)

National Art Museum Map

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