After its many achievements last year, the Museum Council of the Wawel Royal Castle intends to continue its success in 2008 with further exhibitions, conservation projects, and traditional events. During a meeting held on Jan. 24, the Council reviewed activities at the Royal Castle in 2007 and its planned actions for the new year, accepting all reports and plans presented by the Management.
One of the most remarkable and current expositions is the “Gabinet sztuki,” or “art chamber,” an intimate, specially arranged room where kings once developed their artistic and intellectual interests.
Located on the second floor of the state rooms, the chamber has the vibe of western European interiors in kunstkammer style, noticeable in its free composition. This magnificent space contains paintings, sculptures, furniture, metalwork, and other crafts from various countries and time periods, as well as natural curiosities.
According to Dr. Jan K. Ostrowski, director of the Wawel Royal Castle, the interior suggests the beginnings in the development of European museums in the 16th Century, when collectors gathered a wide range of paraphernalia and there was no distinguishing between works of art, natural oddities and others – it was only much later, during the 18th and 19th centuries that they became separated into categories.
The display is characterised by the flexible way objects can be added, exchanged, and reconfigured. Similarly to other chambers, the “Gabinet sztuki” will be accessible only to small groups of specialists during a previously arranged time.
However, due to school holidays, the new chamber will be open for public visits from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1 and again from Feb. 5 to 8.
Later months will present more unique objects and exhibits to be viewed. In March the public will have the opportunity to see a collection of 45 precious objects obtained by the Wawel Museum in 2007, including four pieces of Meissen porcelain, the first true porcelain made in Europe, making up the Swan Service ordered by Count Bruhl.
After close to two years of restoration, Jan Matejko’s “The Prussian Homage” and its gigantic frame will be exhibited in May, along with a multimedia presentation and catalog to show the stages of the conservation process. In September and November, objects will be exhibited in the memory of the victory in Vienna, as a tribute to the victorious battle of King Jan III Sobieski. Lastly, treasures of the Cathedral in Vilnius are to be shown in Poland for the first time during the final months of 2008.
In addition to collecting and protecting works of art and historical artifacts, the Wawel Castle leads a large number of restorative operations, as well as holding educational and cultural events.
This year should mark the completion of conservation work commenced in 1995, the only conservation project in Poland of this scale in early Italian painting, where works were subject of physiochemical examination. During this time, certain elements of the collection under conservation were successfully exhibited.
Wawel conservation labs will continue performing systematic reviews of exhibitions in the Royal Castle and in the Pieskowej Skale Castle, small restoration and maintenance works, as well as conservation of objects for lending and permanent supervision of articles in the storehouse.
Personnel in the educational sector, similarly to previous years, plan to organize a number of attractive workshops for kids, young adults, students, teachers and museum buffs.
As a result of their popularity, educational meetings will continue to be held for families with children within the cycle “Wawel encounters with history and art,” which aims to familiarize participants with Wawel history and monuments.
These meetings will begin to take place in February. In addition, the Wawel Royal Castle will hold a range of competitions in art, photography, and art-history knowledge for all age groups.
It also plans to take part in Children’s Day and special forms of visitation for occasions such as museum open days and night or garden festivities. Other cultural events taking place in the Wawel include concerts by the National Symphony Orchestra and the Krakow Opera, as well as dances for the Traditional Court Dance Festival.