Museum of the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń
pl. Rapackiego 1
Tel. (56) 611 27 00
Tuesdays – Fridays:
10 am – 4 pm
Group visits should be booked in advance, via email.
Director: Mirosław A. Supruniuk PhD
Staff: Katarzyna Moskała MA, Ewa Jabłońska MA
By creating its own museum, the Nicolaus Compernicus University in Toruń was referring to the museum traditions of such universities as Kraków, Warsaw, Wrocław and Vilnius; but in name only – the university museum in Toruń is of a different character. This is understandable because in comparison to the aforementioned universities, the Museum of the Nicolaus Copernicus University does not possess interiors, certificates, artefacts and documents that can boast of an equally long history. Hence the idea arose that the museum should combine the role of guardian of traditions and symbols of the university alongside the creation of a modern research centre for historians of art and culture. It was possible to achieve this second goal – based on the example of American universities – thanks to the generosity and gifts of Friends of the University throughout the world. Among those who donated notable gifts are: Wiesław Litewski, professor of the Jagiellonian University, who donated more than 100 paintings, icons, furniture and utilitarian objects from Europe and around the world dating from the 17th to the 20th centuries; Aleksander Werner, a Polish painter living in London, who donated a collection of Roman glass, Greek and pre-Columbian ceramics, African wood sculptures, Etruscan terracotta, Hindu art objects and weapons dating from the 2nd century BCE up until the 19th century CE; Maryla Żuławska – widow of the outstanding artist Marek Żuławski – who donated a collection of her husband’s works and that of his British and Polish friends, and she also helped to convince Halima Nałęcz to lend a collection of Polish and British paintings owned by the Drian Gallery in London to Toruń; Halina Oberlander who entrusted to the museum several hundred paintings by Marek Oberlander which he made when active in Nice – this period of his work is almost unknown in Poland; Oleńka Frenkiel who partly donated and partly loaned several hundred paintings and as many prints and drawings by her father, the outstanding artist Stanisław Frenkiel in London to the museum; Ryszard Bilan from Paris who donated several hundred of his paintings, graphic art, sculptures and drawings to the museum. The largest gift consisted of hundreds of smaller and larger donations from The museum was established thanks to Prof. Jan Kopcewicz, rector of the Nicolaus Copernicus University, who agreed that part of the building of the liquidated NBP branch in Toruń, donated to the Nicolaus Copernicus University in 2003, should be used as museum space. The interior of the Collegium Maximum building was reconstructed under the supervision of the municipal conservator of monuments. The building was converted to serve a new purpose while retaining the original layout’s historic character as well as details of the ceilings, the staircase and windows. The interior of the building, the furnishings of the Senate Hall and the future museum (cabinets, showcases, benches and rectors’ stelae) were designed by architect Andrzej Ryczek. The representative Rectors’ Hall of the Nicolaus Copernicus University was established on the ground floor. Portraits of the university rectors, from the first, i.e. Prof. Ludwik Kolankowski, to contemporary ones, are hung high up on the walls.
Below the portraits, in vertical display cases, are antique rectors’ gowns: these include one belonging to Prof. Ludwik Kolankowski and the Vilnius gown of Prof. Władysław Dziewulski, as well as the original rectors’ insignia: a chain, a sceptre and a ring. The high staircase and the first floor are occupied by museum rooms. The permanent exhibition is
devoted to Polish art in Great Britain in the 20th century. The University Museum began its activities on 19 January 2005 with two exhibitions. The first was an exhibition of souvenirs and photographs related to the university’s awarding an honorary degree to Pope John Paul II. The second was a display of more than 100 prints by Konstanty Brandel, an outstanding Polish etcher in the first half of the 20th century – in 2001 the university received a gift from Brandel’s nephew, Witold Leitgeber of London, of more than 1,000 of the artist’s graphic works: drawings, watercolours, gouaches and souvenirs. In subsequent years, exhibitions were organized using the museum’s collections or works of art on loan, each of which was accompanied by a catalogue or folder.
Mirosław A. Supruniuk PhD