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Gallery of 20th Century Art at Oksza villa


Zakopane, ul. Zamoyskiego 25
Gallery of 20th Century Art at Oksza villa
Gallery of 20th Century Art
at Oksza villa
Zakopane, ul. Zamoyskiego 25
Gallery of 20th Century Art at Oksza villa

Oksza villa (earlier named Korwinówka) was designed in autumn 1894 for the wealthy government mining official Wincenty Kossakowski and his wife Bronisława who came from the Silesian town of Sosnowiec. It was the third house to be designed by Stanisław Witkiewicz in the Zakopane Style. In the Spring of 1895, a group of skilled Highlander carpenters, led by Wojciech Roj and Jan Obrochta, began the villa’s construction and completed it the following year, while some of the furniture and woodwork was done by Kazimierz Sieczka.

In 1899, the villa was purchased by Count Marcin Kęszycki, an aristocratic friend of the Witkiewicz family, and he renamed the villa Oksza, after his family’s coat of arms. After Kęszycki’s sudden death in January 1900, his widow, Countess Kęszycka, lived there for many years before selling the house some time during or immediately before the First World War.

As Witkiewicz wrote in 1911: „... Oksza, which at first was owned by the Kossakowskis and then by the Kęszyckis, was built based on a pre-prepared architectural plan. A nearly symmetrical layout led to a symmetrical exterior shape. (…) Oksza is the least complicated of Zakopane’s houses. The applied decorative and architectural motifs had been tested in previously built houses, with the addition of covered passageways around the eastern wall and a gallery connected to a two-storey outhouse in the yard.”

In the interwar period, the villa housed a sanatorium and later a school boarding house. During the Second World War, the Nazis moved the house-keeping school for girls there from nearby Kuźnice. After the war, Oksza reverted to a sanatorium for children at risk from tuberculosis until 1965 when it became state property of the Krakow Region. It became a guesthouse. All these changes resulted in modifications and renovations which altered Oksza’s appearance and interior.

At present, Oksza villa is owned by the Tatra Museum. In 2010, this precious example of architecture by Stanislaw Witkiewicz was restored and adapted to house the Gallery of 20th Century Art. The historical building has had its original shape restored and the visitor can see in its interiors many interesting details and ornamentation in the Zakopane Style, for example the ceilings with decorative beams, the richly decorated door frames and the carved window frames.

The Gallery of 20th Century Art at Oksza villa was officially opened on May 14, 2011, with the exhibition Zakopane – the Hub of the Universe. Art at the Foot of Giewont in the Years 1880-1939”.

Teresa Jabłońska

Photographs from the Tatra Museum's archives
Korwinówka villa (later Oksza)
after completion
Korwinówka after completion
Celebrating the completion - among the participants: the owners, the builders and Stanisław Witkiewicz along with his wife Maria and son Stanisław Ignacy
(June 1896)
Photographs by Jarek Możdżyński


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