All those familiar with the history of Książ Castle are certainly aware that the building has often changed hands. It was often rebuilt according to the visions of successive owners, and destroyed during the wars that rolled over Silesia. None of these historic maelstroms was, however, as devastating as that which totalitarianism, first Hitler’s and then Stalin’s, brought to the area. Following the Second World War, little that was valuable remained in the castle. That which somehow survived was plundered in the following years, when only looters took an interest in Książ.
Although the building’s imposing size and form have always held a great deal of charm, its interior, abandoned after the world wars, has called us to reflect upon the castle’s bygone wealth. The Hochbergs, its masters for over 400 years, gathered a collection of books that numbered over 64 thousand, as well as various artistic works. Książ was, after all, to be “the Silesian Helicon, where art and learning flourish” (Beata Lejma, Metamorfozy Zamku Książ). So it became once again, in July, 2015.
The “Metamorphoses of Książ Castle” exhibit is the joint initiative of the National Museum in Wrocław and Książ Castle in Wałbrzych. It has allowed, after 70 years, works that once graced the castle’s rooms to return to the former seat of the Piast and Hochberg dynasties. This undertaking has been recognized as a “precedent” in our country, as up to 40 works of art from the collections of the National Museum in Wrocław may be found in the castle chambers. Among the works exhibited, ten are from the former Hochberg collection, four are eighteenth-century portraits of members of the dynasty, and others mark the place of the castle’s owners in the dramatic panorama of Silesia’s history.
The opening of the exhibition, on 11 July 2015, has been recognized as the most important event in the post-war history of Książ Castle.
Division: Racławicka Panorama and Ethnographic Museum
Museum of Contemporary Art (opening 25 June, 2016)
This is one of the most important Polish museums, known for its remarkably valuable medieval collections, as well as its unique collection of contemporary Polish art. Its over 200 thousand items feature almost all branches of art, from ancient glassware, medieval stone sculpture, Silesian, Polish and foreign painting, drawing, graphic art and the decorative arts, to branches of contemporary art such as photography, installation art and conceptual projects.
Opened to the public in July, 1948, the museum at first operated under the name “Public”; from 1950, it was “Silesian”; and in 1970, it was raised to the status of a National Museum. Its oldest relics include those from previous German museums, the Silesian Museum of Fine Arts and the Silesian Museum of Decorative Arts and Antiquity; sacred objects from Wrocław and Lower Silesia; and museum collections from Lviv and Kiev in present-day Ukraine, transferred here in 1946. Over the decades, the museum collections have been significantly increased through purchases, transfers and gifts, thanks to which a remarkable collection of contemporary Polish art has grown.
Silesian Art from the XIIth to the XVIth Centuries
The collection of medieval art in the National Museum of Wrocław is among the most valuable in Europe. It is presented in two parts: on the main floor (Silesian stone sculpture from the twelfth to sixteenth centuries) and the first floor (Silesian art, fourteenth to sixteenth centuries).
European Art, XVth to XXth Centuries
Peter Brueghel the Younger, Agnolo Bronzino, Cosimo Rosselli, Giovanni Santi (father of Rafael), Lucas Cranach and Wassily Kandinsky are only some of the famous artists whose work may be viewed in this exhibition. Over 200 works are presented, from the Renaissance to to the first half of the twentieth century..
Polish Art, XVIIth to XIXth Centuries
The exhibition displays the works of Poland’s most famous painters from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, including Matejki, Rodakowski, Grottger, Gottlieb, Malczewski, Boznański, Podkowiński and Wyspiański.
Contemporary Polish Art
This will be found in the Four Domes Pavilion, known as one of the most beautiful museum spaces in our part of Europe, where on 25 June, 2016, the National Museum in Wrocław will open its next branch: the Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibition will begin with a display of works from the beginning of the twentieth century and the inter-war period (Witkacy, Chwistek, Makowski) and finish with the works of artists who are practising now (Kozyra, Bałka, Althamer). Its most distinctive feature will be the world’s only collection of works by Magdalena Abakanowicz.