City mulls museum in land down under

A Krakow natural history museum will be created under Rynek Glowny.

The facility, which will cost around 30 million zloty, will open in 2009. It will feature archeological sites excavated last year. And it will use audiovisual equipment, lasers and holograms to give visitors an idea of how Krakow looked in medieval times.

The idea for putting the museum below ground grew out of archeological excavations conducted in conjunction with the renovation of Rynek Glowny last year.
Four months ago Mayor Jacek Majchrowski asked experts in archeology, history and preservation to create plans for managing the underground archeological site.
Professor Ireneusz Pluska, who led the team, was at first against the idea of opening the site to visitors.

He changed his mind when he saw the excavated areas.
Although no decision has been made on whether the museum will be part of the Krakow Historical Museum or independent, its size and the nature of the exhibits have been decided. 

Visitors will enter on the north side of Sukiennice (Cloth Hall) opposite ul. Sw. Jana. The first room they will be in, and the largest, will contain objects excavated during the archeological research effort.

Guests will then walk along an underground corridor adjacent to the eastern wall of Sukiennice, where in the past the Kramy Bogate or Rich Stalls were located. The stalls were a predecessor to the Renaissance-era Cloth Hall.
An image of medieval Krakow will be projected onto the corridor walls for the visitors.

At the end of the corridor will be three rooms of Wielka Waga or Big Scales, which were used to weigh merchandise.

A huge piece of lead used as a unit of weight will be in one of the rooms. It was found during the recent archeological excavations.
The museum exit will be located under the southern edge of Sukiennice.
In addition to the exhibition space, there will be a café and a souvenir shop created in the Gothic style of the cellars of the Sukiennice.

Books on Krakow history will be available for purchase.
The number of people visiting the museum will be limited to prevent deterioration of the site.

Specially trained guides will conduct group tours.
?We estimate that about 350,000 visitors annually could enter the underground areas,? Professor Pluska said.

The Municipality has a lot of the funds needed to build the museum, Pluska added.
?Also, we shouldn?t have problems soliciting further grants we may need from the EU, which has preservation funds,? he said.
?When the plan is presented to the mayor, City Hall will start soliciting grants from the EU to aid in the construction of the facility,? said Jan Machowski, a representative of the mayor?s office.
Ticket prices have yet to be established. They are expected to depend on museum maintenance costs.

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