The Diocesan Museum in Tarnów is the oldest diocesan museum in Poland. Established in 1888 by Rev. Jozef Baba, the rector of the local seminary, the museum was housed in the seminary building, and during the interwar period - in the town hall; today - it occupies a sixteenth-century town houses in the vicinity of the cathedral. The museum complex is composed of the former Akademiola - the name given to the first Tarnow school - a branch of Cracow University; the Mikolajowski House, built in 1524 by a local burgher, Jan Mikolajowski, and inhabited by the rector of the Akademiola; the Mansionary Canons House and Scholasteria. The aforementioned houses, which adjoin the cathedral basilica in a row stretching from the west, create a charming part of the Old Town. The most important part of the collections are examples of guild art - Gothic sculpture and painting from Little Poland, representing the so-called Cracow-Sacz school, of great relevance for becoming acquainted with the level and history of Polish mediaeval culture. The second section includes Church fabric from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century. The Tarnow Museum also possesses a department of folk art, with particularly noteworthy paintings executed on glass from Europe and other continents. In 1957 they were entrusted to the Museum by Norbert Lippoczy, a local resident of Hungarian origin, and a collector renowned both at home and abroad. The Museum also displays contemporary folk sculpture from a vital centre in Paszyn near Nowy Sacz. In 1988, which marked the Diocesan Museum's hundredth anniversary, its collections were expanded thanks to the addition of artworks from about 1900, including canvases by Polish artists such as Jacek Malczewski, Vlastimil Hofman, Kazimierz Sichulski, and Wojciech Weiss, as well as porcelain and clocks donated by Olga Majewska from Tarnów. The Church needs art in order to better learn what is concealed within man to whom it is to proclaim the Gospel - John Paul II said to representatives of the world of art and science in Vienna in 1983, a notion repeated in his papal Letter to Artists (In order to communicate the message entrusted to her by Christ, the Church needs art). Consequently, the Church requires museum activity: institutions gathering and storing works of art in order to protect and conserve them as well as to render them available to visitors and for the purpose of scientific research. In accordance with the anticipations of the Church, museums of sacral art - including the 120 years-old Diocesan Museum in Tarnow and its branches - are not merely witnesses of Christian culture of the past but also try to proclaim the Gospel to our contemporaries. In this way they become involved in pastoral activity, embarking upon reflections on the life of the Church in reference to its cultural heritage.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.