One of the monuments of Łowicz’s culture – from architectural monument, and historical mementoes to folk art – is the Museum in Łowicz. It is located in the former seminary, designed by Tylman from Gemeren and erected at the end of the 17th century by the primate Michał Radziejowski (1645-1705). The museum came into existence due to the respect to the history of the city, region of Łowicz and the artistic oeuvre of the townspeople.
The museum sets out to inspire the visitors and sensitize them to the past and current traditions of the region by the means of exhibitions, cultural events and educational activities.
The history of the museum collection in Łowicz dates back to the turn of the XIXth and XXth centuries and is strongly connected with Władysław Tarczyński (1845 – 1918), a collector and a social worker. He made his collection available to the public in 1905 and called it “The Antiquity’s Collection” .
The museum developed rapidly – it owned over 3200 exhibits and a library until the outbreak of the First World War. W. Tarczyński also included objects and tools from the field of ethnography in this historical-artistic collection.
The Ethnographic Museum of Polish Tourist Society, opened in 1910 and based on the collection of an outstanding social worker, Aniela Chmielińska (1868-1936), was complemented by the activity of the Municipal Museum.
The collection of the Municipal Museum and the Ethnographic Museum was originally located together in a building purchased for the museum purposes at 16 Stary Rynek Street, which was opened to the public until 1939. The period of the Second World War caused subsequent losses in the museum collections.
The National Museum in Warsaw took over both collections in 1948 and formed its Department (until the 1st April 1995).
Connected collections were given a new residence in a reconstructed religious building dated from 1689, owned by the Cardinal Michał Radziejowski foundation.
The branch of the baroque art in Poland is situated in a former primate chapel dedicated to St Karol Boromeusz. It is an original flank of the 17th century building, which wasn’t destroyed during wartime. The interior vault is designed by Tylman from Gameren and is decorated with illusionistic frescos by Michelangelo Palloni (1637-1712), showing the life of Charles Borromeo - a patron, missionary and bishop of Milan. It’s the best example of the Italian painter’s artistic work in Poland from the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries. The paintings perfectly harmonizes with the stucco decoration on the vault and walls. There are also other examples of artistic craft inside, such as furniture, fabrics, glassware, goldsmith work, porcelain, painting and sculpture.
The Władysław Tarczyński Department of the Town and the Region
The exhibition shows the history of the Łowicz district, from the oldest vestiges of settlements in the area until present time. It covers archeological relics – tools, pottery, military items, coming from the W. Tarczyński collection and exhibits obtained during archeological digs, conducted in the area of former Skierniewickie province. It shows the development of the town from the Middle Ages until the XXth century, mainly craft, collection of seals, guild accessories, coffin portraits of the local burghers, drawing room’s furnishings from the early XXth century, mementoes from the periods of the national uprisings – including militaria, the collection of so-called “black jewellery” and souvenirs connected with the history of a Łowicz’s fire brigade, items dating from the First and the Second World War.
The Aniela Chmielińska Ethnographical Department presents the folk art of an ethnographical group called Księżacy Łowiccy, inhabitants of the former Duchy of Łowicz. The exhibition covers striped princely costumes from the XIXth and XXth century. It’s the biggest collection of this type in Poland exhibiting festive costumes from one ethnographic group. There is also presented a reconstruction of a princely chamber’s interior with elements of furnishings such as: “pająki”, bouquets made out of crêpe paper, furniture (painted chests, carved and painted dressers), devotional painting, ceramics from the Łowicz’s region. Examples of artistic work in the field of paper art are displayed next to them. Cut-outs such as “kodry”, “gwiozdy” and “tasiemki” appear in the local interiors from the second half of the XIXth century. In the garden area next to the museum there is a mini open-air ethnographic museum where the oldest residential and farm buildings are shown. They were transferred from the land of the former Duchy of Łowicz. The complex of buildings forms two homesteads – the XVIIIth century homestead with a “white cottage” and the XIXth century closed homestead (pen).
From these examples you can make yourself acquainted with changes occurring in architectural constructions, as well as layout and decor of princely interiors. The exposition is complemented by an exhibition of appliances and vehicles used in the farm, figurative and box beehives.
An open-air ethnographic museum in Maurzyce is situated approximately 7 km from Łowicz, on the way from Warsaw to Poznań. In the late seventies it started to collect architectural monuments from the terrain of the former Duchy of Łowicz. It was opened to the public in the middle of the eighties. Currently there are over 40 items in the open-air ethnographic museum. Their arrangement depicts two historical types of spatial planning of Łowicz village: the so-called old village – an oval village with a central village square, appearing from the middle of the XIXth century and a new village, well known in the second half of the XXth century.
There are farm, livestock and storage buildings presented in the farms together with their equipment. Examples of so-called small architecture, such as wells and roadside shrines complements the farms. The buildings, moved to the terrain of the open-air ethnographic museum, date from the second half of the XIXth century and the first half of the XXth century. The wooden buildings – cottages, barns, granaries – have a skeleton and log construction of the walls and thatched hipped roofs, built of rafters. Characteristic interior’s arrangement is divided into anteroom, holiday chamber, work chamber and stock room. There are two detached farms and three detached buildings within the old village: two cottages, a barn and a reconstruction of a windmill, moved from a small town called Świeryż.
A closed homestead (pen), typical of Łowicz village, was transferred to one of the farmsteads. There is a residential building, once owned by Justyna Grzegora from Złaków Borowy - a famous cut-out artist from the district. It is included in the four-sided homestead, as well as a granary, wooden shed and a stone barn.
Five farmsteads and three detached residential buildings stand in the “New Village”. A country school and a teacher’s flat from the interwar period were established in one of the buildings – a XIXth century cottage from Złaków Borowy. The rest of the buildings are examples of diverse building forms from the terrain of the Duchy of Łowicz.
We can find examples of residential buildings boarded with planks, living quarters for farm labourers, a stone and brick cowshed, a granary and a barn built on wooden plows next to the cottages with log construction of the walls and wide facades.
Within the village you can also visit interiors connected with folk crafts. A smithy and a carpenter’s workshop are opened to the public. There is also an interesting exhibition of former appliances used on farms in order to protect plants until the second half of the XXth century. The buildings’ interiors show changes in the design of princely homesteads until the second half of the XIXth century, when they were sumptuously decorated with paper art (cut-outs and bouquets).
There are also buildings connected with the fire brigade in the museum park, such as: a reconstructed stone and brick watchtower from Złąków Borowy and a shed, where the exposition of fire equipment was prepared.
There has been work started within the old village on moving a church from Wysokienice, a village situated on the south frontiers of the Duchy of Łowicz in 2005. The first stage of transferring this wooden temple dated from 1758 was finished in 2007. In 2008 the temple’s roof was shingled and work on reconstructing its interior (floor, ceiling) was finished. The work is funded by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage as part of an Operational Programme “Development of Culture and Artistic Education Infrastructure”. The aim is to restore sacred functions of the temple after finishing conservation of the interior’s elements (altar, pulpit, font).
A programme called “Tradition” has been organized on the terrain of the museum park for few years as part of a cooperation with Association of Counties and Districts of Bzura’s Basin. The programme’s goal is to present vanishing fields of folk craft characteristic of the region to the broad public. Presentation of pottery, embroidery, paper art (cut-outs, bouquets made out of crêpe paper) takes place in selected buildings. Museum workers, who hold these classes, introduce the visitors to the equipment used by craftsmen and folk artists. The process of creating the craft and the folk art is also demonstrated. Visitors can try their hand at throwing on the potter’s wheel, embroidering or cut-outs.