Czartoryski Museum. This Ermine's Not For Wearin'.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by hagnel2 on June 24, 2005

This museum holds a treasure trove of antique art, sculptures and memorabilia. Most famous and the highlight of the collection is Leonardo’s "Lady With an Ermine." The collection is housed in a yellow baroque mansion close to the remains of the medieval city walls and Florian gate where on fine days students display present day artwork.

The museum was founded around 1801 in Pulawy {Lublin region} by Princess Izabela Czartoryski, the Czartoryskis were avid art collectors, Prince Adam her husband is reputed to have bought the Ermine whilst on holiday in Italy. The family backed the wrong side in the Warsaw insurrection {1830} and the Tsar confiscated their estate; however, the collection had been moved to Paris. In 1870, it was returned to Poland. In 1939, the Nazis plundered and confiscated the entire collection and shipped it to Germany, It was returned to Krakow in 1946, but not all the exhibits were recovered. Izabela’s grandson Wladyslav founded the museum in Krakow. Wladislav had a keen interest in Egyptian art and artifacts; hence, the museum houses a sizable collection from Egypt, Babylon, Greece, etc.

The permanent Exhibition presents over 400 works of European paintings from the Middle Ages through to the eighteenth century. As previously mentioned the showpiece is "The Lady with an Ermine" This painting once hung in Wawel Castle as the property of the Nazi commandant Hans Frank, as the Soviets moved closer to the city it was spirited away to Germany where American soldiers confiscated it and eventually returned it to Krakow. It is a great favorite of the Polish people, they grumble and demand its return whenever it is sent on a tour.

We were very lucky to view the painting in comfort. We {and the guard} were the only people in the small room for at least fifteen minutes. We were told that usually the room is filled in the tourist season. It is a captivating image, beautifully colored and the enigmatic expression on the models face is intriguing- a moment captured forever for the world to view. Only a handful of cities in the world have the honor of having a da Vinci in residence so grab the opportunity to see this.

I would suggest multiple visits to get the best out of the displays. There is much to see. My husband wandered into the Arsenal that exhibited trophies from the Battle of Vienna, Cavalry gear and weapons. Photographs and backpacks are forbidden.

Adult 7 zlty; student 4 zlty
Guided tours are offered covering the whole museum for 150 zlty.
Ancient art collection 80 zlty
Painting and sculpture 90 zlty
No visiting 30 min before closing time .
Open 10am-3:30pm Tues–Thur; 10am-6pm Fri; 10am-3:30pm Sat-Sun
Closed Monday
Free admission Sundays

Czartoryski Museum
Ulica sw. Jana, 19
Krakow, Poland, 31-017
+48 12 422 5566

© LP 2000-2009