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Museum of the Czartoryski Princes in Krakow - renovation by Lewicki Łatak Design Bureau

10 of March '20

After almost ten years of renovation, the doors of the palace at 15 Pijarska Street have reopened. The ivy-covered walls of the courtyard disappeared, a glass roof appeared, and arcades appeared instead of windows. We present the renovation of the oldest museum in Poland according to a project by {tag:Studio}.

The works collected by Princess Izabela Czartoryska were presented in two park pavilions - the Sybil Temple and the Gothic House. It was in the latter that Leonardo da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine" and Rembrandt van Rijn's "Landscape with a Merciful Samaritan" were exhibited, which, together with Rafael Santi's "Portrait of a Young Man", lost during World War II, crowned the collection. During the November Uprising, the collection was moved to Paris. They did not return to the country until 1876, in connection with the planned opening of a museum in Krakow. After the end of World War II, the collection came under the care of the National Museum in Krakow, and then under the management of the Princes Czartoryski Foundation. In 2016, the collection was purchased by the government of the Republic of Poland and thus became part of the National Museum in Krakow.

The Czartoryski Collection is not only Leonardo and Rembrandt. It is an act of Prussian homage, the chronicle of Jan Długosz - things that define our history and identity. The opening of the Princes Czartoryski Museum will therefore be an exceptional event, not only for art lovers. After several years of intensive and systematic work by the MNK team, we are presenting a complete museum: accessible, modern, very open, but referring to the tradition of the oldest museum collection in Poland," says Andrzej Betlej, PhD, professor of the Jagiellonian University, then director of the National Museum in Krakow.

Muzeum Książąt Czartoryskich po i przed remontemMuzeum Książąt Czartoryskich po i przed remontem

The Princes Czartoryski Museum after and before the renovation

photo: Tomasz Markowski/photographic work of MNK

Palace at 15 Pijarska Street

After returning to Poland, the family decided to locate the collection in Krakow. To this end, she purchased three townhouses, which were combined into one palace. The exterior and interior facades were merged into a single façade - a careful glance will catch where the ownership boundaries of the individual townhouses run. The courtyard, which we can admire in full today, was created by combining three courtyards. The second floor was home to the family's apartments, while the second floor was designated in advance as a gallery - hence there are no windows. The really big changes to the museum's appearance were made by Adam Zamoyski, acting president of the Princes Czartoryski Foundation since 2004, who ordered the modernization of the exhibition and the entire building. One of his ideas was to cover the courtyard with a glass roof.

Muzeum Książąt Czartoryskich po i przed remontem Muzeum Książąt Czartoryskich po i przed remontem

The Princes Czartoryski Museum after and before the renovation

photo: Tomasz Markowski/photographic work by MNK

museum today

Today there is no trace of the ivy planted here in the 1980s, nor are the windows, which have been transformed into arcades. A glass roof covers the inner courtyard of the palace, and the two townhouses have been connected by a footbridge leading to the rest of the exhibition. The Lewicki Łatak Design Bureau is responsible for the museum's current appearance. The work on designing the palace's reconstruction required many compromises, especially in the field of conservation. For this reason, among others, one window in the courtyard, dating back to medieval times, was preserved. A major challenge was to adapt the museum space to modern security and exhibition requirements - electronic systems were hidden under the floor of the inner part of the palace.

The museum has been fully adapted to the needs of people with disabilities - they can easily visit the exhibition exactly like other viewers. This is ensured not only by elevators, but also by special ramps installed in parts of the building that require it.

A footbridge connecting the tenements allows the visitors to explore the exposition in an amphitheater and observe the courtyard from a completely different perspective. The roof was made of double-chambered glass, which protects the building from excessive heat. The glass "triangles" from which it was made correspond with the floor of the courtyard, also laid with triangular panels.

Muzeum Książąt Czartoryskich po i przed remontem Muzeum Książąt Czartoryskich po i przed remontem

The Princes Czartoryski Museum after and before renovation

Photo: Tomasz Markowski/photographic work by MNK

Touch Princess Isabella

Art FM is responsible for the look of the new exhibition and interior design. In cooperation with the design team of the National Museum in Cracow, they created, among other things, "touchable" exhibits - a relief portrait of Izabela of Flemming Czartoryska, thanks to which you can touch her face, or replicas of unique keys. In addition, they used a lighting control system that allows you to adjust its temperature, as well as the intensity of the light. The lighting of the exhibits is carefully selected with the needs of the individual works in mind.

With the reopening, the Princes Czartoryski Museum begins a new chapter in its history and continues the founding thought of Izabela Czartoryska. You can read about the official opening of the museum here.

compiled by{tag:AuthorAiB}

Illustrations courtesy of the MNK

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