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In 2009, the Tatra Museum is celebrating the 120th anniversary of its opening to the public. The statute of this museum, which is the oldest and largest regional museum in Poland, was formulated in 1888 by the founding members of the Tatra Museum Society. The statute stipulated the activities to be undertaken by the Museum (collecting and displaying artefacts connected with the Podhale region and the Tatra mountains) and embraced natural history, ethnography and the arts.


The founding of the Tatra Museum was a philanthropic project, bound up with the active and wide-ranging pursuits of the Polish intelligentsia who came to Zakopane in the late 1800s. The founders decided to dedicate the museum to Dr. Tytus Chałubiński (1820 – 1889), an outstanding physician and botanist, alpinist and researcher of the Tatras, and one of the precursors of the Podhale movement. The Museum became, for its part, the basis for the further development of the region’s studies.

From 1921 to 1965, the Museum was run by Juliusz Zborowski (b.1888 – d.1965). Under his leadership, it became an important research centre and a modern regional museum with several branches that aims its activities at the general public.

In the mid-1970s, the Museum broadened the scope of its work to include the protection and conservation of the region’s celebrated historical, wooden buildings. Between the 1970s and 1990s, the Museum acquired and renovated several historic local buildings and opened its branches there; three in Zakopane (the Museum of the Zakopane Style at Koliba villa, the Władysław Hasior Gallery and the Kornel Makuszyński Museum), two in the Podhale region (Łopuszna Manor and the Museum of the Chochołów Uprising) and two in the neighbouring Spisz Region (the Korkosz Croft in Czarna Góra and the Sołtys Croft in Jurgów).

In 1999, the Małopolska regional administration awarded the Museum the status of cultural institution. It has remained a regional museum, but its scope is much wider nowadays, as it is much-visited by tourists and scholars from Poland and abroad. It remains of enormous interest to visitors, not only because of the value of its collections, but also because of the role Zakopane and the Tatra mountains have played in the history of Polish culture.

Zakopane’s very particular natural and cultural climate interweaves the area’s rich and lively folk and fine arts’ tradition with contemporary culture and the events organized to celebrate the museum’s jubilee year, in 2009, attempt to reflect that.

The two flagship exhibitions to mark the 2009 anniversary celebrations will be The Time of the Tatra Explorers at the Art Gallery in Koziniec (opening May 16, 2009) and The Zakopane Style – Inspirations, which opens July 1, 2009, exactly 200 years after the opening of the original Tatra Museum (1889), in the 19th century wooden house of the Gąsienica-Sobczak family. The Museum is also organizing other exhibitions and events. Please find the complete 2009 programme here.

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Translated & edited by: Joanna Holzman, Adrian Smith, Anna Wende-Surmiak