Permanent exhibition

“Inanimate objects are always in order and, unfortunately, are impossible to fault. I never managed to observe a chair shift from one leg to the other, or a bed rear up. Or tables, even those that are tired, that dared to kneel down. I suspect that objects do so for pedagogical reasons, as a constant reproach for our instability”.

Zbigniew Herbert, Objects in: 89 wierszy, Kraków 2008, p. 141. Translated by Jodi Greig and Paulina Duda.

Much like in Herbert’s poem, objects are the only things that remain unchanged in the permanent exhibit of the Ethnographic Museum of Kraków. The exhibition, created over a dozen years ago, presents different aspects of a bygone rural world. It has, since its inception, been subject to constant reinterpretations. Subsequent generations of visitors and museum-goers, examining the objects presented in the exhibit, are always trying to find new answers to the question: “How does a person organise her/his reality?”

Hailing from different ethnographic regions of Poland, the items are grouped according to microhistories about the successive stages of a person’s life, their relationship to nature, work, the home, creativity, religion, ceremony and to other people.   

It is possible to treat the exhibition either as a coherent whole or as individual components —  one can mull over specific objects. We propose four approaches: Inside, The Rhythm of Life, Human Objects and Unattainable Earth. However, these are not the only ways to experience the permanent exhibit — we leave space for new interpretations and we allow the objects to work their magic — to captivate, inspire, to remind and… to reproach.