Early 15th century Byzantine painting in the King Władysław II Jagiełło Foundation of the Sandomierz Cathedral chancel

Work on the exposure and full conservation of the painting begun in 2008 and was concluded in August 2010. The Sandomierz painting was known from historical texts and materials, already mentioned by Dlugosz. It was completely repainted in 1934. Work was financed with funds from the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area – Norway, Lichtenstein and Iceland, as well as by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. Conservation work exposed a well-preserved mural painting executed in the typical for this period Byzantine fresco technique. Conservation revealed not only the 65 overpainted scenes, but also exposed a series of earlier and previously unknown 14th century paintings.

The revealed 15th century Byzantine layer included: an escutcheon frieze, scenes from Christ’s crucifixion, Christ’s and the Blessed Virgin’s nativity scenes, the Harrowing of Hell above the altar and a scene from the Annunciation. On the vaulting were exposed unknown scenes depicting a Liturgical Procession and Christ Pantocrator.

Chancel before conservation, 2008. Photo by Bożena Żbikowska-Sobieraj

Scaffolding erected to carry out conservation, 2008. Photo by Bożena Żbikowska-Sobieraj

Painting during removal of overpaints from 1934 by J. Makarewicz from 1934 in 2008. Photo by Bożena Żbikowska-Sobieraj

Painting during the removal of overpaints from 1934 by J. Makarewicz in 2009. Photo by Bożena Żbikowska-Sobieraj

View of exposed painting fragments during the disassembly of the stalls, 2008. Photo by Bożena Żbikowska-Sobieraj

Fragment of wall with incised drawings after disassembly of stalls, 2009. Photo by Bożena Żbikowska-Sobieraj

Fragment of St. Martyr during removal of overpaints by J. Makarewicz, 2009. Photo by W. Zalewski

Fragment of painting during removal of overpaints, 2009. Photo by W. Zalewski

Scene with Pontius Pilate during removal of overpaints, 2009. Photo by W. Zalewski

Fragment of scene after touching up, 2009 r. Photo by W. Zalewski

Fragment of scene after touching up. Photo by W. Zalewski

The chancel’s wall after conservation, 2010. Photo by W. Zalewski

Scenes of Entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper and the Taking of Christ following conservation, 2010. Photo by W. Zalewski

Christ Pantocrator with the Bible after exposure and conservation, 2010. Photo by W. Zalewski

Divine Eucharist after exposure and conservation, 2010. Photo by W. Zalewski

Sromowce Niżne – St Catherine Church

Works were realized in 2008 and2009. According to available texts, the church in Sromowce Niżne is the oldest aisleless wooden church in southern Poland, erected at the turn of 15th and 16th centuries. A survey performed in 2006 confirmed the dramatic state of preservation of the church’s main body, requiring an immediate intervention, a full comprehensive conservation of architectural elements and the exchange of the shingle roofing. The works’ first stage was carried out in 2008, and this extremely precious monument of our cultural heritage was definitely saved in 2009 after the completion of the second stage.

The St Catherine Church in Sromowce Niżne is one of the oldest wooden churches in Lesser Poland. In this region, 14th and 15th century wooden churches usually featured two segments, a square, or nearly square nave, and a presbytery closed on the eastern side by a straight or three-sided wall. This model also applies to the St Catherine church in Sromowce Niżne. It is remains one of the finest preserved examples of a two-segmented structure from the beginning of the 16th century, erected, according to sources, in 1513 and first mentioned in texts in 1596.

Photographs by Jarosław Adamowicz, PhD

Przydonica – The Our Lady of the Rosary & St John Cantius Church

Work started in 2009 with an architectural inventory and a study intended to assess state of preservation of the shrine’s architectural shape, wall paintings and furnishings. The Our Lady of the Rosary & St John Cantius Church in Przydonica is one of Lesser Poland’s most valuable historic buildings. Erected in 1527, the wooden church has maintained its original architectural form until today. It features an outstanding collection of artwork: a 16th century Renaissance polychrome, a Gothic crucifixion group on the rood beam from ca 1530, two triptychs from the 3rd quarter of the 15th and early 16th centuries, as well as a Rococo high altar.

After the several years needed to complete its conservation, this exceptional historic building has become the pearl of the Nowy Sącz region. The chief assumption behind the comprehensive conservation begun in 2010 was to involve a wide-ranging team of conservators and allow thus an extensive review on the church’s architecture and interior. During this past year was carried out the conservation of the church’s architectural form, including a replacement of the roof shingles and wall sheathing, as well as was launched conservation work on the wall paintings in the chancel.

Photos by Jarosław Adamowicz, PhD

The Stanisław Markiewicz Viaduct

Numerous new technologies were employed during the realization of this endeavor, including protective paint layers or the use of a special laser to clean the sculptures. Main contractor: „INTOP” Tarnobrzeg. Conservation of sculptural compositions: The Interacademic Institute of Conservation and Restoration of Art of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Investor’s supervision was assured by the Directorate of Municipal Roads and the Provincial Conservator of Historic Monuments.

Museum Palace in Wilanów, conservation works.

The Palace’s architecture is original – the effect of a fusion of European art with old Polish building tradition. The color scheme and sculptural decor of the facades and interiors were preserved and refer to antique symbolism glorifying the Sobieski family and the King’s military successes.

The palace owes its stucco décor and color scheme to artists like Simone Giuseppe Belotti, Jerzy Siemiginowski-Eleuter, Michelangelo Palloni, Claude Callot or Johann Samuel Mock (the paintings of Augustus II the Strong in the Dutch Study). The ornaments on the facade shields are by Francesco Fumo. The Regency ornamentation (the 20’s and 30’s of the 18th century) is by Pietro Innocente Compereti. The author of the sculpture in the study is Eliasz Hofmann, the scion of a family of sculptors from southeastern Poland (Puławy) working for the Lubomirskis.

Originaly, this was a typical suburban baronial residence in the fashion of a Polish manor house with bay windows. In its 1696 form it represents a typical Baroque suburban entre cour et jardin residence. Lateral wings were added between 1720 and 1728 (according to a project by Giovanni Spazzio, the chief architect of Elizabeth Lubomirska-Sieniawska).

Following Sobieski’s death in 1696, the palace went to his sons and, after 1720, it became the property of famous baronial families: the Sieniawski, Czartoryski, Lubomirski, Potocki and Branicki. In 1730–1733 it became the residence of king Augustus II the Strong. Each family transformed the palace’s interiors, the gardens and the close vicinity according to the prevailing fashion and needs.

In 1805, at the initiative of the then owner Stanisław Kostka Potocki, a part of the palace became one of the first public museums in Poland. Beside hosting vast collections of European and Far Eastern art., the central section of the palace was dedicated to the memory of King John II and the splendid past of the Nation. After becoming the property of the state after WWII, it opened to the public in 1962 following a thorough conservation and revalorization, as well as the recovery of a large part of the collections appropriated by the Germans.

Since 1995, both the residence and the park complex are administered by the Museum Palace in Wilanów.

Trybusz – St Elizabeth of Hungary Church

Research and inventory begun in 2009 and resulted in this year’s realization of a comprehensive conservation, including architecture, roofing, but also wall paintings. The wooden 15th century St Elizabeth of Hungary Church in Trybusz with its magnificent wall polychrome from 1618 is one of the most famous and valued historic monuments in the foothills of Polish Tatra Mountains. It is also one of the most eminent wooden churches in Poland.

The current state of preservation of the mural polychrome demands an immediate intervention by conservators. The major symptoms of damages include a powdering of the paint layer and stains resulting from earlier impregnations or consolidations. In the repainted fragments, the paint layer, or the ground layer, separate from the wooden support.

Photos by Jarosław Adamowicz, PhD

Dębno in Podhale – St Michael the Archangel Church

Between 1999 and 2006 were carried out comprehensive research and conservation works in the medieval 15th century St Michael the Archangel Church in Dębno, in Podhale.

From 1999 until 2001, owing to funds from the World Monuments Fund in New York, an extensive research program was carried out to investigate the state of preservation of architectural elements, climatic conditions, groundwater levels, historical and iconographic aspects. Dendrochronological, physical, chemical and conservation-related studies were performed. At the same time begun conservation works on the wall polychrome.

During consecutive years complex conservation and repair works were carried out, concerning the whole church’s architectural elements and mural paintings, as well as its furnishings. The church’s most precious historic artifacts include a patron-praising polychrome on the walls and ceilings, furnishings from ca 1500 and a triptych with a central painting of „Santa Conversazione” from early 15th century. In the course of the full conservation of the murals, due to a very poor state of preservation of the „Crucifixion” group on the rood beam, it was necessary to undertake immediately a remedial action on the figures of St John the Evangelist, St Mary and a 16th century sculpture of the Christ.

It must be pointed out, that owing to the collaboration of experts from various monument protection fields, as well as the opportunity to collect information and experience, it was possible to carry out numerous presentations, both domestic and worldwide. The study program, conservation assumptions and the conservation method met with great interest in New York’s World Monuments Fund and was mentioned in its publication in 2001. The project was also presented in Oslo, Norway, at the NINA-NIKU (Foundation for Natural Research and Cultural Heritage Research) and in many other centers.

The St Michael the Archangel Church in Dębno in Podhale belongs to a group of 15th century wooden churches in southern Poland listed by UNESCO as World Cultural Heritage.

Photos by: Jarosław Adamowicz, PhD

Conservation and Restoration of Art

Conservation and building work in the former KL Auschwitz I – blocks no A-2 & A-3

The Interacademic Institute of Conservation and Restoration of Art in Warsaw and Kraków realizes since October 2010 a priority project on the site of the Memorial. Out of the many buildings of the former Auschwitz I camp were selected two prison blocks particularly valuable due to their authenticity, as they did not undergo any major transformation after the camp was liberated.

The works encompass a comprehensive conservation of all the buildings’ original elements and furnishings before they become hosts to the new main exposition of the Museum. The basic assumption behind the conservation program of Blocks A-2 and A-3 was to preserve as far as possible the original layers built up until the liberation of the camp in January 1945. Particularly due to the historical value and tragic significance of the prison cells, the intention is to show them in their condition in times when the concentration and extermination camp functioned, for it is this tragic period that bestows upon them a meaning determining their historic value.

Since the creation of the Museum, both blocs underwent various renovations. Even today we may see the effects of these often poorly executed endeavors. Our conservation program assumes the removal of all non-original layers and transformations that occurred after 1945 and which have a negative influence on both the state of preservation and the documentary perception of the original substance of the camp: painted walls, inscriptions, woodwork, tile stoves, wooden and xylolite floors, metal elements and electrical wiring.

This extremely complicated conservation is based on some original techniques and technologies taking into account the untypical “aesthetics” of the camp’s interiors.

After conservation, the blocks’ facades and interiors will be comparable or similar to the authentic conditions the prisoners left behind in January 1945. The maintenance of this authenticity constitutes the main guideline for the conservation. To the world, the original space of Auschwitz is not only a unique, material proof of Nazi crimes, but also the symbol of the war’s cruelty, terror, Shoah, genocide and racism.

Period archival photograph. In the background, the blocks undergoing conservation.

Actual view of Block A-2 before conservation. Photo by I. Płuska

Interior of prison cell, condition in 1945 following the camp’s liberation. Photo by I. Płuska

Façade damages to undergo typically preservative conservation. Photo by I. Płuska

Original door of a camp cell. Photo by I. Płuska

Exposed fragment of inscription on the wall of a camp cell. Photo by I. Płuska

A lavatory in Block A-2; state of preservation after the camp’s liberation in 1945. Photo by I. Płuska

Grywałd – St Martin of Tours Church

Between 2008 and 2010 took place wide-ranging studies and conservation works in one of the most picturesque medieval wooden churches in Poland. The wooden St Martin of Tours Church in Grywałd (Podhale) with its magnificent mural polychrome from 1618, a 16th century Gothic triptych representing St Martin and manneristic lateral altars is one of the best known and appreciated historic monuments in the foothills of the Tatra Mountains. After a an extensive conservation and the rescue of the extremely valuable polychrome covering the church’s walls and ceiling, one of the most precious historic monuments was salvaged.

Extensive conservation work covered a full restoration of the wall paintings, all the furnishings and a preventive, periodic impregnation of the roof shingles previously replaced in 2001.

The conservation work performed in recent years in the Grywałd church permits to include it into the group of fully protected medieval wooden historic monuments. The Touristic and Educational Trail Of Lesser Poland Wooden Architecture is widely promoted as the Podhale region undergoes rapid touristic development. The conservation’s result should greatly improve the region’s cultural attractiveness. The church in Grywałd, together with the neighboring churches in Dębno, Łopuszna, Harklowa and Sromowce Niżne, constitutes an attractive enclave of medieval wooden architecture on the Czorsztyn Reservoir and along the Dunajec River. The abovementioned churches also inscribe in the trans-regional programs of the Tatra Euroregion.

Photos by Jarosław Adamowicz, PhD

Harklowa in Podhale – Birth of the Virgin Mary Church

The basic goal of the works carried out between 2005 and 2009 was to stop degradation processes and to perform a full, extensive conservation of the 15th century Birth of the Virgin Mary Church in Harklowa with all its furnishings. The initiative regarding protection, prevention and broadly understood complex research and conservation works was a joint endeavor of the parish’s parson, the parochial community and the conservation services. This action had a deep impact on the local community, which, once again, noticed the value of its medieval church.

The research and inventory of the church’s body was followed by a full conservation, including the replacement of roof shingles and enclosure. Dendrochronological and conservation studies. During three years, work was performed on the wall paintings spanning four historic periods: the middle ages, 17th, 19th and 20th centuries. A full conservation of all the elements of the church’s furnishings was performed, namely the painting in the ancient, early 16th century triptych now exposed on the main altar. A preventive conservation program for the entire church was also established.

Photos by Jarosław Adamowicz, PhD

Wawel Castle and the Batory Chapel

Gothic Birth of the Virgin Mary Chapel (also known as St Mary’s or Batory Chapel – 3rd quarter of the 14th century)

Twice rebuilt in depth over the centuries, it is now a mixture of Gothic, manneristic and Baroque styles. Originally decorated with paintings by Ruthenian artists, it was transformed in 1594 and 1595 at the initiative of Anna Jagiellon in a manneristic spirit by the architect and sculptor Santi Gucci to become King Stefan Batory’s mausoleum. Another transformation took place in the middle of the 16th century, funded by canon Wojciech Serebryski, when large amounts of black marble were introduced in its interior in a Baroque spirit. Conservation work performed in 2005 and 2006 was far-reaching and concerned the entire interior of chapel, including paintings and furnishings, as well as the three marble altars situated in the cathedral’s ambulatory and constituting an integral part of the chapel.

Team Leader: Prof. Ireneusz Płuska
Subcontractors: Ryszard Ochęduszko, MA; Grażyna Chromy-Rościszewska, MA; Lech Chwilczyński, MA; Wiesław Gurbiel, MA, Tomasz Bajorek, MA.
Laser cleaning: Prof. Jan Marczak from WAT

Title of the realization:
Conservation of the sculptural decor of the interior of St Mary’s Chapel (Batory) at the Wawel Cathedral

1. Tombstone of King Stefan Batory. Detail. Condition before conservation.
2. Tombstone of King Stefan Batory. Condition after conservation.


Conservation of interior furnishings of St Marc Church in Kraków, 2007-2009

The Gothic St Marc Church is situated at the intersection of Sławkowska and St Marc streets in Kraków. The first written record of the monastic St Marc the Evangelist Church is dated at 1295. It survived to the present day in its Gothic form with an early Baroque interior. In 2007 the Interacademic Institute of Conservation and Restoration of Art of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków begun to realize a conservation program based on the following guidelines. Conservation work regarding the church’s interior furnishings was divided into stages, beginning with the eight altars and continuing with objects situated on the northern and southern walls, like the pulpit, or the St Ersmus painting with stucco framing and feretories.

Arch-collegiate Church in Tum

The St Mary and St Alexius Arch-collegiate Church in Tum is located in the vicinity of the ancient site of an early medieval town. It is one of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in Poland.

In 1999, St Adalbert’s relics were moved from Gniezno to Tum and this event was commemorated by planting an oak dedicated to St Adalbert in the garden of the neighboring St Nicholas Church. On the 22nd of May 2001 was celebrated the 850 anniversary of the arch- collegiate’s consecration. Following a solemn mass celebrated by cardinal Joseph Glemp, a commemorative stone reminding this anniversary was unveiled by the President of the Republic of Poland, Mr Bronisław Komorowski and the papal nonce in Poland, Mgr. Celestino Migliore.

Hińcza from Rogów Chapel,1465, Maiestas Domini

The Hińcza from Rogów Chapel (Holly Innocents’ Chapel) – a non existing chapel in the Wawel Cathedral. It was situated in the northern nave, between the St Nicholas and the Czartoryskis Chapels.

Other selected conservation and research endeavors:

  • Complete conservation of the decor in the Renaissance Sigismund’s Chapel of the Wawel Cathedral.
  • Inventory of the Sigismund’s Chapel, including records of conservation work, laser scans and digital processing, as well as realization of panel reliefs’ casts.
  • Conservation and restoration of the of Wilanów Palace southern wing’s frontal facade to preserve and renovate its historic substance and to recreate the original aesthetics with Baroque features, commissioned by the Museum Palace in Wilanów.
  • Realization of research and conservation of the retaining wall adjoining the frontal facade of the main body of the palace and the towers, as well as the frontal façade of the northern wing of the Palace in Wilanów.
  • Building, conservation and renovation of the upper terrace’s retaining wall in the Palace in Wilanów, commissioned by the Museum Palace in Wilanów.
  • Conservation of the mural painting „Odysseus clothed as a beggar arriving to his wife Penelope” on the garden façade of the Northern Gallery of the Palace in Wilanów.
  • Conservation work in the King’s Library, the Museum Palace in Wilanów.
  • Conservation work on the interior decor of the Batory Chapel of the Wawel Cathedral in Kraków.
  • Realization of conservation and repair works in the Czapski Palace in Warsaw (seat of the Academy of Fine Arts). Works realized in 2004. The Institute established a conservation program, made cost calculations, provided free of charge conservator’s supervision and paid the construction supervision, legal and administrative costs. In 2006, conservation concerned the Czapski Palace’s annexes and the main gate.
  • Conservation of the brick facade of the 14th century Town Hall in Morąg.
  • Revalorization of the 16th century Salt Warehouse and conservation of the castle bailey in Olsztyn.
  • Complete conservation of the wooden church in Harklowa – 1 stage including conservation of the walls’ structural elements and sheathing and the replacement of shingles on the roof and awnings.
  • Conservation of the main altar in the Birth of the Virgin Mary Church in Harklowa.
  • Conservation of the lateral altar in the St John the Baptist Church in Jerzmanowice.
  • Conservation of a feretory from the second half of the 19th century in the St John the Baptist Church in Jerzmanowice.
  • Technical & artistic conservation of the organ façade in the St Giles Church in Giebułtowo.
  • Realization of comprehensive conservation and construction work in the „Sugar Refiners’” Palace on Mokotowska Street in Warsaw, commissioned by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
  • Conservation of the sculptural and architectural decor of the S. Markiewicz Viaduct on Karowa Street in Warsaw
    (Consortium with INTOP Tarnobrzeg).
  • Complete conservation work on the facades and interiors of the arch-collegiate church in Tum, near Łęczyca.
  • Last stage of comprehensive conservation and renovation work in the medieval, wooden St Michael the Archangel Church in Dębno, including the replacement of wooden shingles on the church’s historic enclosure (2nd half of the 15th century) and conservation of selected elements of the furnishings (cover of a 15th century baptismal font, 15th century tabernacle, two 16th century antepedia, 18th century feretory). Work started in 2003.
  • Comprehensive conservation work on the wooden church in Harklowa  – II stage including conservation of walls’ structural elements and replacement of shingles on the tower, the sheathing of the chapel and the church’s enclosure, as well as the conservation of the mural polychrome in the chancel and the conservation of the main altar.
  • Conservation of a tile stove in the Museum Palace in Wilanów.
  • Conservation work on Gothic Arthurian murals in the Siedlęcin Tower House in Lower Silesia, including a required study (photographic and photogrammetric documentation of the paintings).
  • Original scientific research regarding the Stare Bielsko triptych.
  • Conservation and technical assessment of the condition of the architectural decor, interior ornamentation and historic door woodwork in the Loretan Chapel in Gołąb, Puławy County.
  • Original supervision over the realization of the conservation of the retaining walls on Lubicz Street in Kraków, commissioned by the Kraków Municipality – the Roads and Communication Directorate.
  • Conservation and protection of exposed historic archeological artifacts including the development of a conservation program, eastern part of the Main Square in Kraków.
  • Beginning of the conservation of seven subsidiary altars in the St Marc Church in Kraków.
  • Conservation of a 16th century painting of „Madonna with Child” from the Corpus Christi Church in Kraków.
  • Stratigraphic, pigment and binder analysis of a 17th century Flemish „Still life” painting from the „Atelier Genovesio” conservation studio in Paris.
  • Research and conservation project for the kitchen, guardhouse, gardener’s house and southern pergola, commissioned by the Museum Palace in Wilanów.
  • Development of a project including cost calculation and conservation & restoration work schedule for Witold Gombrowicz’s Villa Alexandrine and its transformation into the European Center of Arts and Literature. commissioned by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Warsaw.
  • Development of a conservator’s expert opinion concerning the state of preservation of the facade with sculptural decor, flashing, woodwork and metalwork in the Palace of Charles Israel Poznański in Łodź at 32 Gdaska Street, commissioned by the Academy of Music in Łódź.
  • Realization of a conservation and analytic study for a Dresdner throne chair from the 18th century.
  • Realization of an opinion concerning a physicochemical, comparative and conservation study of a painting signed by Tadeusz Ajdukiewicz.
  • Realization of conservation work in the St Leonard Crypt, Hińcza from Rogów Chapel of the Wawel Cathedral.
  • Participation in conservation works carried out in Marina El-Alamein, Egypt, within the scope of the Polish –Egyptian Conservation Mission in collaboration with the Department of Architecture of the Wrocław University of Technology and the Kazimierz Michałowski Center for Mediterranean Archeology.