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History of the Tatra Museum in Zakopane


Following the ceasfire, Juliusz Zborowski sought to engage the Tatra Museum in the protection of nature and historic monuments. The Museum collaborated with various bodies and organizations, such as the State Council for the Protection of Nature, the Polish Tatra Society and its Section for the Protection of the Tatra Mountains, and the Chief Conservationist of Monuments for the Cracow region. A new regional museum network emerged as a result of this collaboration with the Conservationist of Monuments. Juliusz Zborowski attached considerable importance to the development of the library’s holdings. A dedicated bibliophile, he ran the library himself, gathering a valuable collection of books, prints, maps, and photographs. Under his direction, the Museum's publishing activity began as early as the 1920s. The first publication was the Rocznik Podhalański (Podhale Yearly), the next issues of which appeared after the war.

The Tatra Museum was nationalized in 1950. Thanks to a larger staff of full-time employees and some financial stability, systematic field research projects were launched and the holdings developed in a scholarly direction. A collection-based art department was also opened.

After the setting up of the Tatra National Park in 1954, the Museum's interests shifted somewhat away nature conservation, though the Museum's commitment to the conservation of monuments continued. Two branches of the museum were opened; one presenting the ethnographic collection of the Szymański family, the other, memorabilia of the well-known writer, Kornel Makuszyński.

Juliusz Zborowski was in charge of the Tatra Museum until 1965. As the first director, he worked out a coherent programme for the Museum, and carried the projects into effect. In the following years, the Museum was systematically broadened to include new departments. In the 1970s, when the Museum was run by Tadeusz Szczepanek, a department for the protection of monuments was launched to supervise the renovation of monuments in the area covered by the Museum's activities. Under the current stewardship of Teresa Jabłońska, the Museum's activities have been developed. In 1993, the Museum of Zakopane Style at "Koliba" villa opened. After the political changes in Poland in 1989, more intense publishing activity became possible. The Tatra Museum Society was reactivated with the view to supporting the initiatives of the Tatra Museum.

During the last few years some major exhibitions have been realized, such as Rafał Malczewski and the Myth of Zakopane, executed in cooperation with the National Museum in Warsaw, and The Halny Wind. The Tatra Mountains in 19th and 20th-Century Polish Paintings, with the Pomeranian Dukes' Castle in Szczecin.


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