Krakow Archaeological Museum - History and Facts | History Hit

Krakow Archaeological Museum

Krakow, Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Poland

Krakow Archaeological Museum is explores the history of Poland’s Lesser region.

Peta Stamper

25 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Cancre / CC

About Krakow Archaeological Museum

Krakow Archaeological Museum (Muzeum Archeologiczne w Krakowie) explores Poland’s history, particularly that of its Lesser or Małopolska Region. It is the oldest archaeological museum in Poland.

Krakow Archaeological Museum history

Krakow Archaeological Museum was founded in 1850 originally as the Museum of Antiquity, by a group of intellectuals belonging to the Krakow Scientific Society (Towarzystwo Naukowe Krakowskie, TNK). In the late 18th century, Poland was partitioned by the Habsburg Monarchy, ending the sovereignty of Poland and Lithuania for 123 years. As a result, foreign rule in the Austrian Partition did not allow the existence of patriotic Polish organisations except for learning societies such as the TNK.

The TNK had existed in Krakow since 1815 with its own division of Art and Archeology in 1848. Their priority for the museum was to collect archaeological finds from private donors, mostly notable Polish families, including the statue of Zbruch Idol (the museum’s symbol). The first exhibit opened at Krakow Archaeological Museum in 1857.

The museum was housed in what was originally the medieval Lubomirski Palace, known as ‘The Painted Mansion’. The 14th century fortress was later turned into a Carmelite monastery in the 17th century before becoming an infamous Austrian prison in the 19th century under Austrian rule.

Krakow Archaeological Museum today

The museum is divided into five permanent exhibitions: Gods of the Ancient Egypt, Prehistoric Pottery, The Garden of Ceramics, The Prehistory and Early Middle Ages of Lesser Poland, and The Carts of Bronocice, which includes the Bronocice Pot (3635–3370 BC) – a ceramic vase incised with the earliest known image of what may be a wheeled vehicle.

Do not miss the world’s only uncovered Slavonic god, the eight-foot stone idol of four-faced Swiatowit, found in the Zbruc riverbed in 1848. The idol was likely hidden during the 10th century when Kiev Russia accepted Christianity. There are also audio guides available.

While the museum is small, having explored the collections boasting over 500,000 objects, step outside to enjoy the beautiful garden offering views across Krakow, especially the Planty gardens next door.

Getting to Krakow Archaeological Museum

Located in Krakow’s Stare Miastro or Old Town, the Krakow Archaeological Museum is easy to find on foot from other attractions. Via public transport, you can reach the museum by getting the trams 6, 8, 10, 13 and 18. There is a car park opposite the museum on Poselska street.