Topics of coins

140th Anniversary of the National Museum in Kraków

The National Museum in Kraków (NMK) was established in 1879, under a resolution of the Kraków City Council. It is the oldest and the largest Polish museum known as the national museum. The first statute of the museum was drawn up in 1883, and the Cloth Hall in Kraków was its first seat. Currently, the NMK has nine branches in Kraków and one in Zakopane. The main seat of the museum is located in the Main Building in Kraków, on Al. 3 Maja 1.

The Museum stores and protects over 900,000 exhibits presented at permanent and temporary exhibitions in the Main Building or in the other branches. The museum collections are made available for scientific research and exhibition purposes. Knowledge about the NMK collections and Polish culture is disseminated through educational, research and publishing activities.

On 29 December 2016, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage bought – on behalf of the State Treasury – the collections of the Princes Czartoryski family, which were reverted to the NMK ownership on 21 June 2017. Opened in 1801 in Puławy and transferred to Kraków in 1876, the Princes Czartoryski Museum is one of the oldest institutions of this type in Poland. Its collection includes, among others, the “Lady with an Ermine” by Leonardo da Vinci. The allegorical portrait of Cecilia Gallerani entered the Polish collections around the year 1800, when Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski purchased it for his mother, Izabela. Since then, the work has been in the collection of the Czartoryski family, and now it belongs to the NMK.

The obverse of the coin depicts the south façade of the NMK Main Building and the museum’s logo. The construction of the building began in 1934; however, due to World War II it was not completed until the end of the 1980s. The monumental south façade, where the main entrance is located, is decorated with a colonnade and quarters placed above it, designed for planned but unrealised reliefs.

The reverse of the coin shows an image of the “Lady with an Ermine” by Leonardo da Vinci, the most valuable painting in the Polish collections.

Jarosław Bodzek, Ph.D.