Wilno, Vilnius, Vilne 1918-1948: One City - Many Stories

Wednesday, May 24, 2023, 10:00 AM - Sunday, September 3, 2023

  • Wednesday, May 24, 2023, 10:00 AM - Sunday, September 3, 2023

The exhibition shows Vilnius in an exceptionally complicated historical period. We become acquainted with the city thanks to paintings, graphics, photographs and other works of contemporary artists.

In the years 1918–1948 Vilnius passed from hand to hand – it became part of Poland and Lithuania and was occupied by both the Nazis and the Soviet army. Occupations and wars radically changed the social structure and population of the city, and also influenced its architecture and urban planning.

The seven-part narrative of the exhibition shows how the artists of the then multi-ethnic and multi-cultural Vilnius perceived their city. Apart from representatives of Polish culture, an important role in creating this image was also played by Lithuanian, Jewish and Belarusian artists.

The exhibition presents the works of Vilnius artists stored in Polish and Lithuanian cultural heritage institutions. In addition to the well-known and repeatedly presented works by the classics of Vilnius art, e.g. Ferdynand Ruszczyc, Jan Bułhak, Ludomir Sleńdziński, Bronisław Jamontt, Michał Rouba and Jerzy Hoppen, you can also see paintings and graphics of the younger generation of artists, which included e.g. Hanna Milewska, Józef Horyd and Hadassa Gurewicz-Grodzka. Some of their works are shown for the first time. Glimpses of the avant-garde on the artistic scene of Vilnius, which is considered an important centre of neoclassicism, are represented by paintings by Vytautas Kairiūkštis and his colleague Władysław Strzemiński, photographs by Bauhaus student Moї Ver (Moshé Raviv-Vorobeichic), watercolours by Bencion Michtom, and a model of the famous statue of Adam Mickiewicz by Zbigniew Pronaszko. The image of Vilnius was extended by the Lithuanian chapter, consisting of landscapes and portraits by Vladas Drėma, Antanas Gudaitis, Juozas Mikėnas, Algirdas Petrulis and Adomas Varnas. The culmination of the narrative are works born out of nostalgia for the lost Vilnius, including graphics and paintings by Andrzej Wróblewski, an outstanding figure of Polish post-war art, inspired by the experiences of his youth spent in this city.

The Main Building

al. 3 Maja 1

The central phenomena of the Polish art of the 20th and 21st century, the history of Polish weaponry and uniforms, a gallery of crafts, and a dozen major temporary exhibitions each year.

The quickly expanding collection of the National Museum, set up in 1879, soon needed space that Kraków did not have at that time. That is why the idea to erect a new building that at the same time would commemorate the many years of efforts to regain Poland’s independence was born early in the 20th century. Immediately after the end of the First World War, already in free Poland, funds for the construction of an appropriate seat began to be raised. The construction of the building by the imposing Aleje Trzech Wieszczów, staked out just two decades earlier, began in 1934. Today, the National Museum in Kraków boasts several branches, with no fewer than three permanent galleries in the Main Building alone. Deposited on the ground floor are the collections of militaria: the exhibition Arms and Uniforms in Poland (gallery closed until further notice) presents the history of the Polish military from the Middle Ages to the Second World War. The Gallery of Decorative Arts boasts collections of fabrics, goldsmithry, glass, ceramics, furniture, musical instruments, and Judaica that let the visitor trace changes in style from the early Middle Ages to the 20th century. The Polish Art Gallery presents the chronology and key tendencies in painting, sculpture and printmaking as created by the Polish artists of the 20th and 21st century. The largest temporary exhibitions of the National Museum in Kraków are organised in specially designed halls.

Tickets to permanent galleries: normal PLN 32, concessions PLN 25, family PLN 64, admission free to permanent exhibitions on Tuesday

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