BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MUSEUM
The Subcarpathian Museum in Krosno is one the most interesting museums, known not only in Subcarpathian region but also throughout Poland. It is famous for the biggest collection of paraffin lamps in Europe. The museum is located in the historic old town in the former Bishop Palace. The idea to open the museum in this place dates back to the beginnings of the 20th century, but the plan supported by most influential residents and town authorities was interrupted more than once by war time turmoil. After the Second World War the plan resurfaced. In 1950 the Krosno branch of the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society took the initiative to set up the museum. Three years later, the town council offered to the museum the rooms in the Bishop Palace. The Krosno Museum was officially opened on 22nd of July 22, 1954. In 2000 it changed its name to The Subcarpathian Museum in Krosno.
A branch of the museum is The Carpathian Troy Open-Air Archaeological Museum located in the village of Trzcinica, which was opened on 24-26 June 2011.
Although the museum is best known for its unique collection of paraffin lamps, the exhibitions on various subjects are presented in the Bishop Palace. The museum is proud of its archaeological collections and Poland's largest collection of contemporary artistic and utility glass. There are also exhibits related to the history of the region and the artworks associated with Krosno.
The museum is divided into departments of Archaeology, History, Arts, History of Lighting, History of Glass and Glass Industry, as well as Education and Promotion. In the museum there is a library with an ample collection and two conservation workshops. The museum runs intensive education and scientific research and issues scholarly publications.
We cordially invite you to visit us!
THE BISHOP PALACE
Although the history of the museum is not so long, the beginnings of the building go back to the mid-14th century and coincide with the beginnings of the Royal Town of Krosno. The wooden mansion was bought in 1379 by Eric from Winsen, the first bishop of Przemyśl. The building was turned into a palace following its extension and remodelling in the 1st half of the 16th c., when its host was the renowned bishop of Kraków Stanislaw Tarło. Until 1626 it belonged to canons from Przemyśl and was their periodic residence. The building was next purchased by Zofia Ligęza-Skotnicka (wife of the Castellan from Połaniec), but it was ravished by fire, which destroyed part of the town in 1638. The well respected widow then rebuilt and sold the palace to the Rorantists’ College, which in turn owned the property until the 2nd half of the 18th c. After being purchased by the town, the building served many purposes and had various, sometimes rather unusual residents. At various periods there were barracks, workshops, private flats, savings banks, clubs and schools in the building.
In 1991-1995 building was thoroughly renovated and a new wing of the Museum was built over the uncovered fragment of the medieval defensive wall of Krosno. Nowadays the building has four wings. It is one of the most impressive buildings in the town, the pearl of residential architecture in the Subcarpathian region.
Although the museum is best known for its unique collection of paraffin lamps, the artefacts connected with the history of lighting are not the only treasures hidden in the Bishop Palace. Exhibitions in the museum surprise with their variety.
The museum has departments of Archaeology, History, Arts, History of Lighting, History of Glass and Glass Industry, Education and Promotion, as well as the auxiliary Accounts and Finance department and the Administrative office. In the Museum there is a library with an abundant collection and two conservation workshops.
Let us see what treasures and secrets are hidden in the Palace.
The Department of Archaeology has run intensive excavation and research works for years. As a result the museum has obtained interesting architectural exhibits which allowed much of Subcarpathian prehistory to be more fully reconstructed. The most spectacular final results of the excavation work are in Trzcinica, where a branch of the museum, known as The Carpathian Troy Open-Air Archaeological Museum is now located, as well as on Krosno’s market square, where the remains of the mid-14th century Mayor's residence and Renaissance Town Hall were discovered.
The exhibition entitled “Prehistory of Subcarpathia – the past enlivened” reveals the history of the settlements in the region against the background of the development of human civilization from the Stone Age to the Iron Age. There you can admire stone and flint items, ceramics, items made of clay, glass, bone, horn and metals, examples of tools, weapons as well as jewellery. Many of the exhibits, for example finds from Hłomcza near Sanok or from Krosno, are unique in Poland and as such they expand our knowledge about Subcarpathia and the life of its inhabitants. The artistic arrangement of the exhibition allows us to move to the past ages and walk along a preserved fragment of the medieval town wall, which makes the visit a very unique experience.
The Department of History mostly collects artefacts connected with the region, but exhibits from other parts of Poland and Europe can be found there too. Collections include interesting examples of military exhibits, coins, documents, stamps and medals. Polish and foreign coins that can be found here date back even to the 15th century. Among the oldest military relics of particular note are: a 13th century long sword and a 17th century Hussar's plate armour. A collection of postcards from the turn of the 20th century and patriotic jewellery from the 1863 Uprising are of interest too. A collection of royal documents concerning the town from the period of the 14th to 18th century is another very important exhibit. The exhibition “From the History of Krosno and the District” shows the town’s history from its establishment to the golden age in the 15th century, the Austrian Galician period and two World Wars to contemporary times. The exhibition is complemented by superb portrait paintings, views of Krosno and numerous photographs.
Paintings, sculptures, graphics and examples of artistic handicrafts connected with the region are collected in the Department of Arts. We can find there paintings of the students of Jan Matejko – Bergman, Bieszczad, Daniszewski – as well as great post-war painters: Truskolaski, Olszewski, Ekiert, presented in “The Gallery of 19th and 20th Century Krosno Artists”. The most valuable exhibits, however, are works of an anonymous medieval artist, the sculpture of Our Lady with Child from the town of Równe (now Ukraine) dating to the late 14th century, and a votive epitaph (tempera on plank) of Andrzej Momot of the coat-of-arms of Biberstein. The real treasure of the department is the unique Pleyel grand piano from 1862. This Parisian manufacture provided their pianos even for Chopin himself. Our Pleyel is one of the oldest fully functioning instrument of this type in Poland. It is equipped with original mechanism and you can still hear waltzes and mazurkas occasionally played on it.
Another very interesting place in The Subcarpathian Museum is the Department of History of Lighting. The Krosno district is famous in Poland for its rich tradition connected with oil industry. It is here that exhibits associated with the inventor of the paraffin lamp, Ignacy Łukasiewicz and the oil industry started to be collected. The most valuable is the collection of artefacts concerning history of lighting, primarily paraffin lamps produced between 1860-1950 in Austria, Germany, Hungary, France, England, USA and Poland. It is the largest collection in Europe. The historical rooms of the Palace present the history of lighting from ancient times in elegant burgher interiors from the turn of the 20th century. The exhibition comprises a rich collection of candlesticks, candelabra, chandeliers, Jewish lamps, oil and paraffin lamps, electrical lamps, accessories and heaters. It is complemented with souvenirs connected with Ignacy Łukasiewicz.
The Department of History of Glass and Glass Industry leads researches on the origin and development of the glass industry in Krosno and the environs. The Subcarpathian Museum is one of the few institutions that collects modern glass: of household use and artistic. The collection includes whole sets of items, but also single, unique glass products, tools used in glass works, photographs and other exhibits documenting the history of the Krosno Glassworks and the glass industry in general. Besides modern glass products the collection is complemented with unique antique glass products, created by great designers and visual artists.
While visiting The Subcarpathian Museum you should also visit the library. Its collections of books and manuscripts contain 25,000 volumes and almost 200 old prints from the 16th-18th century. The oldest printed work in the collection is the Statue and Royal Privileges of Jan Herburt, published in Kraków in 1570. However, the most valuable one is the choral book Graduale Romanum de Tempore et Sanctis, printed in 1651 in Kraków.
The Subcarpathian Museum in Krosno is a cultural institution unique in Poland and in Europe. When touring south-east Poland, a visit to this extraordinary place is simply a must.