European Centre of Polish Numismatics

Permanent exhibitions

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From the dinar of Bolesław Chrobry minted on the occasion of the Congress of Gniezno in the year 1000, through early Polish banknotes from the era of the Kościuszko Uprising, to contemporary currency – the numismatic collection of the National Museum in Krakow includes over a hundred thousand items. The most valuable will be included in the permanent exhibition at the European Centre of Polish Numismatics.

The core of the collection is the donation from the Czapski family, handed over to the Polish Nation in 1903. Count Emeryk Hutten-Czapski (1828-1896) spent a number of years assembling his collection of Polish coins and medals, as well as books, prints and manuscripts, artworks, craftworks, and national memorabilia. In 1894, he moved them from the family estate in Stańków in Belarus to Kraków, and placed them in an Italianesque palace set in beautiful gardens at present-day Piłsudskiego Street. The front of the building bore the sign Monumentis Patriae naufragio ereptis (To the national memorabilia saved from the storms of history). The collector’s dream was to make his treasure available to the public at a specially created museum. In keeping with the idea, in 1903 the family donated the collection to the Municipality of the City of Kraków, which went on to buy the palace and hand everything over to the National Museum.

Czapski’s dream finally comes true after 110 years. Before the Second World War, just a few dozen items from the Count’s enormous collection were displayed; after the war, the palace was converted into offices for the directors and administrators, and the collection could only be viewed at certain times and purely for research. A major overhaul of the building, commenced in 2009, has already cost 23 million zlotys, largely from EU funds. The garden and nearby buildings were also renovated. Kraków was able to reclaim an exceptionally charming location just a few minutes away from the Rynek Główny. The former glory was also returned to the original interiors of the building, including antique furniture of the museum pavilion, and the collections from the lapidarium.

The numismatic collection of the National Museum in Krakow, also including further generous donations, is regarded as Poland’s finest and one of the most valuable in the world. It constitutes a complete review of the Polish mint, from the earliest days of the Piast dynasty to the present day. As well as the previously mentioned unique items, there are also unusual pieces such as a florin from the days of Władysław Łokietek, a few grosz coins from the era of Kazimierz Wielki, early Polish ducats and thalers dating back to Kings Zygmunt I, Zygmunt August and Stefan Batory, and the largest Polish coin: the 1621 100 ducat piece. Also on display are ancient Greek and Roman coins, which found their way to Poland centuries ago. The permanent exhibition includes around two and a half thousand most valuable items kept in modern cabinets with state-of-the-art security, while others are presented via multimedia. The museum also promises temporary exhibitions, educational events, and an exhibition devoted to another member of this exceptional family: the painter Józef Czapski.

We have a major celebration of numismatics in store; visiting the beautifully renovated palace set in lush grounds is bound to be fun for everyone. Entry free during the first weekend after the opening (reservation only). The programme includes a guided tours, lectures, mint demonstrations, and evening concerts.

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