Siberia. Voices from the North


Esther's House, Krakowska 46

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Siberia is already here. The connection between Krakow and Siberian North is tangible and long-lasting, beautiful and surprising. In the exhibition, you can see the objects which people condemned to exile in Siberia for participating in the January Uprising brought back with them. There were also those who went there voluntarily to experience an adventure and get rich. And this all happened at the time when the grandparents of today's grandparents were children!

Whom did the Tzarian political prisoners meet? And what happened to the gold prospectors and greedy dreamers?

Some people made business there, others conducted research, others experienced salvation and found love, while some stories ended with a drama.

However, on thing is common to all of them – in the seemingly empty wilderness they met other people – the Chukchi, Aleuts and Koryaks living at the Bering Strait, the Eveni family from mountain settlements of Kamchatka, the Selkups from the forests near the Taz river and the Nenets from the Canadian tundra and theYamal Peninsula.

In the exhibition, you will see furry clothes brought from the North, figures of the sea hunters sitting in tiny kayaks, a lasso to lead a herd of reindeer, Inuit amulets or female wedding dress which is also a shaman's outfit. Someone will sing about a Nenets girl.

Since 2016, researchers from the Ethnographic Museum have followed the Siberian collection to Siberia in order to meet people who live there today. These expeditions, as well as archival research in other Siberian collections, let us solve many puzzles. The ethnographic details of the investigations are discussed on the website of our museum, which has been created directly for this purpose.

The exhibition is an opportunity to meet a scholar and deportee Benedykt Dybowski; Liliana Aslapova, a Koriak woman from Pietropavlovsk (her real name is Eveki); Izydor Sobański who was sentenced to exile to Tobolsk Governorate, Zinoida Barmich – a Nenets woman, an old owner of the shaman outfit of her grandmother from Oma, a settlement at the Barents Sea; a traveller and gold seeker Konstantyn Podhorski; Stanislav Nuteventin, an artist from the Chukchi Peninsula who makes walrus tusk sculptures; a mysterious exile Jan Żurakowski; elderly Paweł Kuboljev from the Selkup settlement of Ratta. They all meet with us to observe together what has led to the creation of the Polish-Siberian connections.

The exhibition is also made by animals and spirits, both from the past and the most contemporary ones. All of those voices silently spin a tale from the North.


The exhibition is based on the results of the field research conducted by MEK in Siberia between 2016 and 2019. The research was financed by the National Humanities Development Programme, as part of the project entitled Anthropological Reinterpretation of the Siberian Collection of the Ethnographic Museum in Krakow Coming from the 19th Century Polish Researchers of Siberia. The project has been coordinated by professor Grażyna Kubica-Heller and researched by Andrzej Dybczak, Jacek Kukuczka and Magdalena Zych.

Curators team: Andrzej Dybczak, Jacek Kukuczka, Anna Zabdyrska, Magdalena Zych

Exhibition design: Anna Zabdyrska

Media patronage: 

The exhibition was financed from the means of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, coming from the Fund for the Promotion of Culture, obtained from subsidies established in games that are subject to State monopoly, in accordance with Article 80(1) of the Gambling Act of 19 November 2009.