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April 1, 2009 - June 14, 2009
The Museum of the Zakopane Style at Koliba villa
ul. Kościeliska 18, Zakopane
This exhibition focuses on the buildings that have housed the Tatra Museum and the people connected to the institution’s development.


The Tatra Museum in Zakopane is one of the oldest regional museums in Poland. It dates back to 1888, even though it was only opened on July 1, 1889. The history of its buildings is as interesting as the history of the Museum itself, and is connected with the birth of the Zakopane Style in architecture and the applied arts, which spread not only across Zakopane and the Podhale region, but also to many other regions of Poland.

The first exhibition hall was located between 1889 and 1892 in the house of Krzeptowski. It was built in the simplified Swiss style, even though its proportions resembled those of holiday dwellings in the Podhale region. As it was only the Museum's temporary site, efforts were undertaken in 1889 to construct the Museum’s own building. Thanks to a plot donated to the Tatra Museum Society by the Chałubiński family, the Museum building was to be constructed on Chałubińskiego Street as the first building in the Zakopane Style. However, its designer, Józef Pius Dziekoński, did not carry out this task. It is impossible to find in it any features of Podhale regional architecture, apart from the "embellishments" taken from the influential publication Budownictwo ludowe na Podhalu [Folk Architecture in the Podhale Region] of Władysław Matlakowski as well as the vestigial decoration of the gables introduced during the building construction. After the building's completion, the Museum's collection was transferred there and open to the public for nearly 30 years (1892-1920).

Shortly after the inauguration of the new building, efforts were made to build a new, masonry building. It was completed just before the outbreak of the First World War. The masonry Tatra Museum was the last building in the Zakopane Style and the last design of Stanisław Witkiewicz, who made it in cooperation with Franciszek Mączyński. In the opinion of many researchers, the application of the Zakopane Style in masonry architecture never emerged from its experimental stage and is therefore usually considered on the margins of flagship wooden constructions.

Zbigniew Moździerz, curator of the exhibition

The Tatra Museum's building 
between 1889 and 1892
(photo: from the Tatra Museum's archives)
The Tatra Museum's building 
between 1892 and 1920
(photo: from the Tatra Museum's archives)
The Tatra Museum's building in 1929
(photo: from the Tatra Museum's archives)
The Tatra Museum's building today
(photo: Andrzej Samardak)

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