Want to delve into Krakowian history and culture? Every major city seems to have an ethnographic museum, Kraków is no exception – close to the banks of the Vistula river stand the impressive building that holds the collection.
Step inside and be greeted with room replicas of interiors from homesteads to school houses, mill rooms to clay workshops – the ground floor immerses you in Kraków’s domestic and trade world.
Upon making your way to the first floor you are met with an extensive display of intricately studded, buckled, embroidered, velvety, leathery historical costume from all regions of Poland.
Follow the exhibition round and discover implements of subsistence lifestyle in rural Poland used as recently as 1960. Hunting, in the form of ingenious traps for various native species, fishing equipment, harvesting apparatus and even handmade apiaries (beekeeping houses) adorn the walls and offer insight into the ingenuity of those practicing self sufficiency.
Along with these tools of practicality necessary for survival are rooms brimming with recreational tools and techniques used for creative and artistic activities. Study the rolling pin-sequence method for creating patterns on fabric, clothing, curtains and blankets. Take the opportunity to use a foot/hand operated loom and add your own personal flair to a perpetually in progress floor rug.
Weave your way through the textiles into the hand craft and interior decoration section in which you can see breathtakingly elaborate paper wall hangings or ‘pajaki’, and unbelievable ceiling mobiles constructed from simple materials including strands of straw.
Explore hand carved folk art depicting everything from celebration traditions to biblical scenes in an interactive exhibit, enjoy the unconventional expansion of the medium due to harsh winter weather conditions which forced manual labourers to find alternative means of income in the form of puppeteering, both selling their wares and performing shows. Puppets and the nativity scenes they performed in are scattered around and link to a film clip of the New Year for fathers or ‘dziady’ of Żywiec in which they, dressed in homemade bright and reflective costumes, descend on rural homesteads and farms and cause a ruckus with unconventional instruments, singing, dancing and drinking until the sound of whips cracking is heard – at which point they move on to the next unsuspecting victims. This performance is symbolic of the restoration of order after Christmas chaos for the coming year. dsa
The ethnographic museum has something to appeal to every interest; art seekers to history buffs, casual exhibition goers to museum aficionados. Enjoy the pleasure from 7zł with student ID or 14zł for a regular ticket.