The very aptly named museum, which is located inside Krakow’s famous Cloth Hall, does indeed focus on 19th-century Polish art, with thousands of paintings and sculptures on display – thus making it the largest of its kind in the world. As it mainly consists of donations from local collectors and artists, the exhibit is rather small in size when compared to other national galleries in the world but is nonetheless quite significant in terms of Polish art. The various artworks are scattered across four different “19th-century salon”-themed halls, each named after a prominent Polish artist and defined by a specific historical period.
The Bacciarelli Room is all about Classicist, Rococo and even late Baroque painters such as Bacciarelli himself, Grassi and Krafft, with a strong emphasis on historical and battle scenes. The Michałowski Room is dedicated to Romanticism and Poland’s political scene at the time, with works from Artur Grottger, Piotr Michałowski, and Jan Nepomucen Głowacki, often regarded as the most outstanding landscape painter in Poland. The Siemiradzki Room revolves around nature, history, and mythology, and is dedicated to Henryk Hektor Siemiradzki, famous for his stunning portrayals of the Graeco-Roman world and the New Testament. Lastly, the Chełmoński Room is devoted to genre painting and Realism. It is notably more modern than the other rooms.