Monday, 24 April 2017

Krakow Polish National Museum

So having spent 5 days in Krakow I thought I might share some of my thoughts on the experience, particularly the Polish National Museum.

I had planned to spend quite a bit of time in the Armoury of the Castle at Wawel which has an amazing collection of military goodies including some wonderful suits of armour from the Winged Hussars. Wawel itself is beautiful, overlooking the Vistula and the old town with some amazing views. There is lots to do including the Basilica, Cathedral and tombs but the Armoury was the main attraction for me.

The only disappointment was that photos are not allowed and there are plenty of people wondering around to enforce this. So just to give you a flavor below are a couple of shots from the guide book forgive the quality.

The armoury and treasury has 5 sections, the treasury first with gold cups medals etc and also so fine horse furniture which was interesting from a painters perspective. Second is the room with gun barrels and banners from the 1500's onwards, a corridor with racks of halberds then takes you to the highlight for me which is a small room full of armour, 3 of the 4 Walls having that of the famed Winged Hussars, needless to say the finance department (Wife) went for a sit down and got a magazine out about this point. Next room is bladed weapons and helmets and finally ranged weapons, mainly pistols, hunting rifles and crossbows. All fascinating and well presented but with not much in the way of narrative around them.

Wawel was completed a bit quicker than expected so over a coffee I suggested that the Polish National Museum might be nice, it was this side of town and had the advantage that it was inside and today was set to rain a little. To my surprise it was quickly agreed and we set off. I was pleased on arrival to see there was a temporary exhibition at no extra cost on the "Art of the Polish Legions" based on the Legions in the Russo-Polish war 1918 -1919 for the most part. Better and Better. We hired the audio guide confirmed Photos were OK but no flash and set off. I should point out at this stage that cost of the Audio and the Museum worked out at about £2.40 each so a good deal I thought.

I have to say the National Museum was amazing. The Military section takes you from the dark ages through to end of the 18.00's, focusing quite a lot on the renaissance period and also the Napoleonic period. Some of the exhibits were stunning. I will let you decide for yourself.



 The Napoleonic section starts with the Uniform, medals and regalia of Prince Poniatowski.

 At this point I felt I had really got my monies worth and the finance department looked to have pretty much fallen asleep, I decided to quickly do the "Art of the Polish Legions" and we could scarper, its one of my other favourite periods and I am collecting some figures for the Polish Legion. I really wasn't prepared for what I found. Three rooms stuffed with paintings and sketches, cases with full uniforms and weapons in and a trench with gear hanging for the visitor to pick up and even try on! I know they are meant for the kids but......

 The last pictures are my attempts to represent some of these chaps.

And finally I decided I would add a few comical pictures under the title hat shopping......

Even the finance department joined in this fun game, much to the amusement of a group of Polish school kids. Visor down looks best I think!

So a fantastic day in all, really worth going and secretly the highlight of a brilliant trip to Krakow which is a beautiful City without all this military stuff.

To add a little anecdote at 3.15 on our last day we spotted an antique militaria shop, frustratingly it was literally the street next to our hotel and we had never noticed. The airport transfer was due at 5pm so I had just enough time to dash back to the hotel, and grab y card, I returned to find the shop shut and I couldn't figure out from the sign if it closed at 4pm or opened at 4pm. So I went back at 4.15 more in hope than expectation to find it open and an absolute treasure trove of Polish militaria. I found a cap of a Polish Legionaire at a good price and at 4.30 realised the owner had only 3 words in English. Small (the cap was too small) two (he had two of them the other was bigger) and cash. Damn he doesn't take card.

I fairly flew back to the hotel, grabbed some English money as we were out of Polish, over the road tot he exchange and then back to the shop where that was neatly wrapped in a bag on the counter. I used my only words of Polish to say thank you and jogged back in time to catch the taxi, just.,

I was happy with the end result, now just need to decide where it goes in my painting room.


  1. Sounds like I need to visit Poland.

    1. Do it Paul, not like Gdansk fish port in the 80's

  2. Great! I invite you to Warsaw museum also :)

    1. Thanks Michal, I will add that one to the list along with Stockholm

  3. Lovely relation and lovely Maciejówka hat at the end. Live's a bargain!

    1. Cheers Bartek, just need somewhere nice to display the hat.