The Museum of the Lubomirski Princes

The Museum of the Lubomirski Princes is one of the oldest museums in Poland, operatingas part of the Ossoliński National Institute. Its impressive art and numismatic collections areperiodically displayed in the main building of the Ossolineum in Wrocław. A separate building dedicated to the Museum’s exhibition and education activities is scheduled for completion in 2026.

The Museum was established in Lviv, in the early 19th century. Its existence began with anagreement concluded on 25 December 1823 between Count Józef Maksymilian Ossoliński – the founder of the Ossoliński National Institute, and Prince Henryk Lubomirski – an art connoisseur.

Both patrons were motivated by the idea of enriching Poland’s written treasures with historical memorabilia and works of art that would bear witness to the nation’s history and culture. The basis of the collection was to be the combined artistic collections of Ossolińskiand Lubomirski, displayed together with later donations and purchases. In the early 1870s the Museum was opened to the public. Objects were exhibited in the Painting Gallery, the Armoury and the Historical and Commemorative Department. Exhibitions were organised, guides and catalogues published. The collection was growing all the time, mainly through donations.

The glory days ended with the outbreak of the Second World War. The Museum ceased to exist in 1940, having been dissolved by the Soviet authorities, who occupied Lviv from 1939 to 1941. All collections and deposits lost their status as private collections and were for cibly nationalised. The collection was divided between Lviv institutions. In 1941, during the German occupation of Lviv, the Museum lost further exhibits, including a valuable collection of 26 drawings by Albrecht Dürer, which were taken to Berlin. After 1945, the Museum's collection was further dispersed, with much of it remaining in Lviv museums and some exhibits finding their way to other countries in Europe and North America. Only a handful made it to Wrocław – to the Ossoliński National Institute reactivated after the war, however, the Museum was not re-established within its structure at that time. This came 67 years later, in 2007.

The first step that made the reactivation of the Museum of the Lubomirski Princes possiblewas the adoption of the Act on the Ossoliński National Institute by the Polish Sejm in 1995,restoring its foundation status. Subsequently, in 2002, a Solemn Resolution was signed with the heirs of Prince Andrzej Lubomirski. In 2007, special provisions were added to the Act onthe Ossoliński National Institute that obliged the Ossolineum governing bodies to “maintainthe Museum of the Lubomirski Princes and multiply its collections”. Since 2016, the Museum has comprised of the Art Department, the Numismatic Department and the Inventory Department. The Museum of the Lubomirski Princes processes and exhibits objects from the collection gathered at the Ossoliński National Institute during the period of its Lviv history, as well aspost-war acquisitions and donations. The exhibits are presented in exhibitions organised by the Museum at the Ossolineum and are also loaned to other museum institutions in Poland and abroad.

The collection of the Art Department consists of drawings by European masters from the15th to the 19th century, including the largest collection of Rembrandt drawings in the country, drawings by Polish artists from the 17th to the 20th century, Polish and foreign graphics from the 16th century onwards, paintings, miniatures, artistic crafts, bookplates, photographs and postcards. The collection of the Numismatic Department is one of the most numerous of its kind in Poland. It consists of collections of Polish, foreign and antique coins, as well as banknotes, decorations, medals (especially royal medals from the Vasa dynasty), seals and historical national memorabilia.