The National Museum in Cracow is the oldest national museum in Poland. It was founded in 1879. National discussion has taken place for years about the location and form of the building to expose a collection that was never shown. The decision was taken to erect a completely new building, monumental, modern and contemporary, presenting national spirit adequate for the so called National Museum New Building. The works of Stanisław Wyspiański, the great Polish poet and artist, were to be placed in this building. The building process started in 1934 according to the awarded design, and was continued, thanks to effort of the whole society and the support of the government, until 1939, i.e. the beginning of World War 2. The works were continued during the war years of 1940–1943 as converting into Nazis Staatkasino Krakau. Work started again after the war in 1949, again under the name of the National Museum, but with a reduced program, being in fact another conversion of the original plans, and was completed in 1957. In 1958 work was started to prepare a project extending the formerly reduced program, and the building based on these plans was completed in 1990. In 2004, on the occasion of the jubilee, a competition was judged for another expansion, or rather the next extension of the so called „Wyspiański’s pavilion”. Tracing the history of construction of Cracow’s National Museum New Building, one is able to observe the changes of theory and practice, and also politics, through the time period. The example of this modernistic building demonstrates the results of preservation decisions regarding both realizing the primary plan and adopting it to contemporary urban and architectural doctrines.
Cracow, National Museum, museum buildings, 20th century architecture