The Cracow Saltworks Museum in Wieliczka
The Museum is a state-owned, independent, scientific, research and educational institution, subject directly to the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
The initiator of establishing the museum was Alfons Długosz – Polish painter, teacher and social activist living in Wieliczka. The directors of the local salt mine, who in the 1950s planned to liquidate many of the workings, granted their consent on his exploration and collection of old tools, devices and mining machines to protect them from destruction. The objects gathered from the excavations made up, as early as in December of 1951, the first exhibition, organised by Alfons Długosz in the Warsaw Chamber and open for visitors. In the years to come, Alfons Długosz’s collection was expanded on and he acquired 14 post-excavation chambers for the purposes of their exhibition, all located on the 3rd level of the mine, at the depth of 135 m underground. Repair and adaptation works of the chambers were finalised by Polish Ministry of Art and Culture. By the Ministry regulation of 23rd March 1961, the exposition was transformed into an independent central museum. Owing to the support and financial aid from the state, one of the most modern mining exhibitions could be organised in the Wieliczka salt mine. Moreover, it was then the biggest mining museum in the world. Practically all issues related to the Cracow Saltworks Museum, organised chronologically or thematically, were presented. Next to geological, archaeological and historic exhibition, there was a most valuable, and unique on a world scale, collection of wooden hauling machines from the 16th-19th c. The underground Cracow Saltworks Museum exhibition became available for visitors in 1966 on the occasion of the 1000th anniversary of the Polish state. In the following decades, further 3rd-level workings, presently taking up the space of 7.5 km 2 , were adapted for the purposes of the museum exhibition. It features about 2500 original pieces.
The seat of the museum is the Saltworks Castle in Wieliczka, located near the salt mine. The oldest castle buildings date back to the 13th c. Middle Ages- origin can be ascribed to the Central and Northern Castle, towers, walls and saltworks kitchen. From the beginning of its existence up to 1945, the castle was the seat of the management of the Cracow Saltworks, i.e. the salt mines in Wieliczka and Bochnia, saltworks, craft workshops, warehouses and magazines. Until 1772, the Cracow Saltworks, including the Castle, was the property of Polish Kings and it was managed on their behalf by mine administrators. Between 1772 and 1918, the Saltworks belonged to the Austrian House of Habsburg, and since 1918 up to this day – to the Polish state. Throughout the centuries, the castle was redeveloped and expanded. It was devastated by fires and raging wars. The last serious damage was dealt by the World War II. Following 1945, the castle buildings housed healthcare facility and a kindergarten. Owing to the striving of the Cracow Saltworks Museum and the financial aid granted by the Ministry of Art and Culture, in 1976 building and renovation works were commenced, which would restore the castle to its former look and significance. The works were completed only in 1996. In the meantime, next museum exhibitions were organised and open for visiting in the Castle: archaeological one, one devoted to the history of Wieliczka, and the most precious salt cellars collection in Poland. The building is the place of storage of an invaluable collection of historic books and mining maps, as well as saline archive, handed over to the museum by the salt mine. Saltworks Castle was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2013.
Cracow Saltworks Museum employs presently over a hundred people – specialists in various fields. According to its charter, the Museum business activity involves the Cracow saltworks, i.e. the salt mines in Wieliczka and Bochnia together with Subcarpathian saliferous terrains and other salt mines, both operational and fully exploited. The range of subjects and the time-frame of the Museum employees’ research works are extensive and diversified. Geological studies concern Miocene (the origin of the salt deposit), and the archaeological – the Neolithic (beginning of the settlement and salt evaporation industry in the region). In the domain of history and immaterial culture, the range of research covers the period between the 13th c. and the end of the 20th c. It concerns the development of the salt mining and salt evaporation technology, the role and significance of the salt business in the history of Poland, mining towns, art and ethnography. One of the essential tasks of the museum is the preparation of studies on history and conservation for protective works on the historic excavations in the “Wieliczka” and “Bochnia” Salt Mines; another is issuing opinions and conservation permits regarding these areas. Additionally, the museum is still collecting, preserving, cataloguing cultural goods, and making them available for visitors in permanent and temporary exhibitions. Apart from that, it engages in intense publishing activities (academic publications, albums, guides, catalogues, monographs). In museum, a special attention is paid to educational activities, encompassing Wieliczka and the surrounding communes, including Cracow. Educational classes, workshops, lectures, contests and open-air events are organised for children, the youth and adults. The Annual “Feast of Salt” draws thousands of participants to the Castle. The Museum maintains a close cooperation also with other museums, research facilities and universities from the country and abroad, and takes part in international projects. In the years to come, it is planned to expand on the castle exhibition surface and arrange new temporary and permanent exhibitions. It will be possible owing to a successful acquisition of a new building, located right next to the salt mine, moving museum offices to it and a further adaptation of the castle rooms.
Daniłowicza 12, 32-020 Wieliczka,
tel. +48 (12) 289 16 11
Visitor Service Office:
tel. +48 (12) 278 58 49
Wawel Royal Castle in Kraków
The Wawel Royal Castle and the Wawel Hill constitute the most historically and culturally important site in Poland. For centuries the residence of kings and the symbol of Polish statehood, the castle is now one of the country’s premier art museums.
Established in 1930, the museum encompasses ten curatorial departments responsible for collections of paintings, including an important collection of Italian Renaissance paintings; works on paper; sculpture; textiles, among them the Sigismund II Augustus tapestry collection; goldsmith’s work; arms and armor; ceramics, with significant holdings of Meissen porcelain; and period furniture. The museum’s holdings in Asian and Middle-Eastern art include the largest collection of Ottoman tents in Europe. For conservation reasons the tents are not on permanent display. The collections of the Wawel Royal Castle are presented in several permanent exhibitions that evoke the historic appearance of the royal residence in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.
Instead of paying a flat admission fee, visitors can pick and choose the exhibitions they would like to see. From spring to mid-autumn, visitors can also descend into the Dragon’s Den, climb to the top of the Sandomierska Tower, and take a guided outdoor tour to learn about Wawel’s architecture and gardens. The museum mounts special temporary exhibitions and displays.
The Wawel Royal Castle also hosts a lively program of events including symphonic and chamber music concerts and performances of opera and courtly dance.
Wawel Royal Castle
31-001 Kraków, Wawel 5, phone +48 12 422.51.55 ext. 219;
THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR MUSEUMS AND PUBLIC COLLECTIONS (NIMOZ)
NIMOZ is a state agency, established in 2011 by the Minister of Culture, National Heritage and Sport of the Republic of Poland
It is responsible for creating and implementing national policy for museums, assisting them in their development and continues the work of its predecessor agency, addressing the protection of movable heritage. The mission to foster development and innovation in the management of museums and public collections in Poland is achieved by examining and proposing legislative solutions, granting support to museum institutions in all spheres of their activity, devising modern scientific, management and educational programmes, amassing and popularising knowledge as well as building and updating an integrated system of information about museums and collections. Main goal of the Institute is to create a modern and competent cultural institution with an open philosophy of activity, encouraging cooperation among museum professionals and all those who support the development of modern museology in Poland. S The specialists involved in the work of the Institute wish to become a forum for exchange of ideas and experiences among museum staff, as well as representatives from the worlds of science, art and business who, just like them, perceive museums as institutions with a huge potential to generate and influence social change.
ul. Goraszewska 7,
tel: 22 25 69 603,
fax: 22 642 11 85