Warsaw’s National Museum prepares first permanent numismatic exhibition

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August 23, 2018 – After almost one hundred years from the establishment of its Department of Coins and Medals, the National Museum in Warsaw is preparing its first permanent numismatic exhibition. The numismatic collection will be made available to the public thanks to the patronage of Count Feliks Sobanski Foundation. The new exhibition is scheduled to open in the first half of 2020.

The facade of the gigantic National Museum in Warsaw in the year of 1938. Photo: Encyklopedia Powszechna PWN 1959.

The new permanent exhibition departs from the typical cross-cutting view of the global history of minting and does not aim to encompass the entire collection. Instead of showing a multitude of coins and medals in the correct sequence, the narrative will be divided into individual subjects. Visitors will be able to learn about various aspects of the history of money. The exhibition will be supplemented by additional artefacts illustrating the subjects at hand as well as infographics and multimedia. It will be accompanied by a detailed analysis of Count Kazimierz Sobanski’s collection, paying particular attention to the wartime fate of numismatic collections.

The collection of the count Sobanski was catalogued by Gumowski, a great expert of Polish numismatics. Andrzej Romanowski can still use this catalogue until this day. Photo: UK.

“The donation of my great-great granduncle Kazimierz Sobanski, which coincided with Poland’s regained independence, paved the way for establishing the Department of Coins and Medals at the National Museum in Warsaw. I am very happy that, on the centenary of these events, I can contribute to presenting this unique collection to the public. The idea to refurbish the department fits into the long tradition of my family’s artistic patronage, which is why it was with genuine satisfaction that I accepted the National Museum’s invitation to take part in this endeavour,” says Michal Sobanski, Chairman of the Count Feliks Sobanski Foundation.

Andrzej Romanowski is looking forward to the new exhibition. Photo: UK.

“We are preparing a permanent exhibition – the first one in the history of the Department of Coins and Medals of the National Museum in Warsaw. The added significance of this event lies in the fact that the Cabinet’s first donator, Count Kazimierz Sobanski, was the son of Count Feliks Sobanski, who is the patron of the foundation that sponsors our Cabinet. In this context, creating a permanent exhibition gains a double meaning: apart from introducing the public to some of the NMW’s numismatic collection – the largest of its type in Poland – it testifies to the importance and permanence of artistic patronage” explains Andrzej Romanowski, the Cabinet’s curator. “It is also a welcome addition to the upcoming XVI International Numismatic Congress in Warsaw (2021), which is co-organized by the NMW. The exhibition will serve as an an opportunity to promote Warsaw and Poland in international numismatic circles. What should also be underlined here is the important educational aspect of the planned exhibition and the possibility to organize other educational and cultural events in the future.”

The exhibition design is being prepared by KiPP Projekt – an architectural firm with a number of important projects under its belt, including the Money Centre of the National Bank of Poland. The exhibition concept involves presenting selected numismatic phenomena, such as falsifying money and non-economic use of coins, not only in the chronological and geographical perspective, but also in terms of their cultural and historical aspects. Thanks to the use of innovative solutions in the scope of exhibition space and presentation, the new gallery will combine traditional and narrative approaches, allowing visitors to discover the history of money, our Department and its most important donators.

Key piece and highlight of the Gallery of 19th Century: the painting of the Battle of Tannenberg (Grunwald) by Jan Matejko from the year 1878. Photo: UK.

Since 2012, the Museum has successively opened a number of rearranged and refurbished permanent exhibitions. Visitors are welcome to explore the following galleries: Professor Kazimierz Michalowski Faras Gallery, Gallery of Medieval Art, Gallery of Old Masters, Gallery of 19th Century Art, Gallery of 20th and 21st Century Art and Gallery of Polish Design. In 2019, as part of a project co-financed from the Infrastructure and Environment 2014-20 Operational Programme, the NMW plans to open an entirely rearranged Gallery of Ancient Art.

You can find out more about the Department of Coins and Medals on its website.

And don’t miss our three-part series “Warsaw: Numismatic centre at the heart of Europe”, in part 2 Ursula Kampmann visited also the National Museum Warsaw and the numismatic collection, of course, taking also a look “behind the scenes” …
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3