Medical Association, Medical House, Kraków
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Medical Association, Medical House

Kraków

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Not so much the building, but a staircase decorated with the "Apollo" stained glass window designed by Stanisław Wyspiański (from 1904) made the building famous and valuable historic monument. It is an outstanding example of harmony of architectural and fine art elements in the Art Nouveau style.

History

The building of the Medical Association was designed in 1903 (constructed in: 1904) by Julian Sowiński, and the construction works were carried out by the company of W. Kaczmarski. The land plot was donated to the Association by the city. The form of the interior was designed by Stanisław Wyspiański who implemented his original project owing to the President of the Association, Dr Julian Nowak. As requested by the latter, Wyspiański could use nature as the central motif of all décor elements and achieve his aim without obstacles. The users had to adapt to the artist's vision. When protests were raised against beautiful, but uncomfortable chairs in the Meeting Room (arched armrests make it impossible to comfortably support the elbow), Wyspiański replied: "When chairs are comfortable, meeting participants fall asleep". The building was opened in 1905. In the years 1939-1945, it was occupied by Germans who used it as a storehouse. In 1945, the medical club was taken over by the library of the Medical University. Loading of the ceilings almost led to a building disaster. In the 1980s., the building was renovated. In 1991, the Association recovered their property. Today, a couple of academic institutions are housed in it.

Description

The Art Nouveau building (intersection of Kopernika Street and Radziwiłłowska Street), does not look as a masterpiece from the outside. It has a modest, classical body. It was supposed to be used as a clubhouse, so it was equipped in all the novelties of the contemporary technology: electric installation, gas and water and sewage system, central heating, and even electric ventilators and a telephone. Of course, the Association also needed a spacious meeting room, library, reading room, rooms for the management employees, and even toilets, all designed by Stanisław Wyspiański. The spectacular staircase with a decorative balustrade and stained glass windows by Stanisław Wyspiański, "Apollo (System Copernicus)" (1904) enchants all visitors. Today, we can admire a replica made in 1972 on the basis of the original cardboard models by the same Stained Glass and Artistic Glazing Workshop and Glass Mosaic Works of S. G. Żeleński in Cracow. The original stained glass window was broken into pieces in 1945, when German occupiers blew up the nearby railway viaduct. The symbolism of the stained glass window is associated with the patron of the Association - Nicolaus Copernicus and refers to "De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium". It sums up the artist's reflections about the relations of Antiquity with Christianity. The distinctive motif of leaves and flowers of a chestnut tree on the spectacular balustrade is a hallmark of the Cracow Art Nouveau. Many elements of the original décor have been preserved until today only in the form of design, e.g. the motif of pelargonium from the decorative frieze in the meeting room, stored in the National Museum. The theme of stylised flowers, so characteristic for Wyspiański, is also present in ceiling friezes both in the main hallway, as well as in the meeting room. It is also visible on rugs and curtains. An excellent example of design are wall sconces and chandeliers shaped as snow flakes. The snow flake motif was even embossed on the leather covering the chairs. Even the boiler room has historic value.

The build can be visited during the opening hours of the Museum of the Jagiellonian University Medical Faculty.

compiled by Roman Marcinek, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Krakow, 20-03-2015.

Bibliography

  • M. Rożek, Przewodnik po zabytkach i kulturze Krakowa, Kraków 1993
  • Fabiański M., Purchla J., Historia architektury Krakowa w zarysie, Kraków 2001
  • Encyklopedia Krakowa, Warszawa - Kraków 2000.
  • Z. Gajda, O ulicy Kopernika w szczególności, o Wesołej w ogólności, Kraków 2005

General information

  • Type: public building
  • Chronology: początek XX w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Radziwiłłowska 4, Kraków
  • Location: Voivodeship małopolskie, district Kraków, commune Kraków
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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