Wrocław’s Racławice Panorama Museum to get long-awaited makeover
The incredible Racławice Panorama Museum is getting a long-awaited facelift.
The museum, which is celebrating its 35th year, hosts the monumental cycloramic painting by Jan Styka and Wojciech Kossak depicting the victorious 1794 battle of the Kościuszko Insurrection.
Styka, a Lviv-based painter, came up with the idea of commemorating the battle for its 100th anniversary.
Together with Wojciech Kossak and seven other artists, they spent nine months creating the 15x114 metre depiction of the Battle of Racławice.
In 1794, Polish insurgents led by general Tadeusz Kościuszko defeated the Russian army led by general Alexander Tomasov.
The gigantic canvas was first exhibited in Lviv as part of the Great National Exhibition in 1894.
With the exception of 1896 (the Panorama was displayed in Budapest and seen by 800,000 Hungarians), the painting stayed in Lviv until 1944.
Partially damaged, it endured bombing and being hidden in a crate with rat poison in Bernardine Monastery, to finally find its home in Wrocław after the war.
That wasn't the end of its misfortunes though. Due to the work's anti-Russian perception and Communist rule in Poland, it took 41 years for the painting to be publicly displayed in the rotunda where it can be found to this day.
Now, thanks to EU funding from the Operational Programme Infrastructure and Environment 2014-2020, the rotunda’s hall will be completely rearranged and adapted to the needs of disabled visitors.
During eight months of work, a new ticket office and bookstore will be built. The display itself will be enhanced by new narrative paths explaining both the history of the painting and the battle.
The Wrocław’s National Museum director, Piotr Oszczanowski, said: “To be in Wrocław and not see the Racławice Panorama is like visiting Kraków and not going to the Wawel Castle, finding yourself in Rome and not being enchanted by the Trevi Fountain, reaching Venice and giving up on visiting St Mark's Square, getting to Paris without seeing the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe, and leaving Copenhagen without looking at the Little Mermaid or visiting Christiania.”
In the last 35 years, 11 million people have seen the extraordinary painting, including pope John Paul II, queen of the Netherland Beatrice, and even the finalists of the Miss World contest in 2006.
“In order for this to continue, so that we can enjoy this extraordinary creation by Jan Styka and Wojciech Kossak, it is necessary to take constant care not only of the painting itself (it is in perfect condition) but also of the place where it is presented,” added the director.
The works will begin on August 4th and are expected to finish in the next year’s second quarter. It will be the most extensive refurbishment since the museum opened.
Constructed in the years 1961-85 according to a design by Ewa and Marek Dziekoński and thanks to a public fundraiser, the rotunda is a branch of the Wrocław National Museum.
It was opened on June 14th, 1985, finally creating the appropriate conditions for displaying the enormous Racławice Panorama in all its glory.
To read more about the incredible Panorama, click here.