Upper Silesian Museum in Bytom
Over a hundred years of history of the Upper Silesian Museum in Bytom, as well as its impressive collections, is the best showcase for an institution that for years has been collecting archaeological, ethnographic and natural exhibits, historical documents and high-class works of art and presenting them to the general public. It is one of the most important spots on the museum map of Poland, distinguished by its regional, Silesian character.
The beginnings of the Bytom museum date back to the year 1910, when the Bytom Historical and Museum Society (Beuthener Geschichts-und Museumsverein) was established by a group of enthusiasts of the history of Bytom. The society then established a local museum based on deposits from the private collections of the merchant Simon Macha and teacher Hans Bimler, as well as a collection of city and guild memorabilia, and archival materials donated by the Bytom municipality. This local institution gradually increased in importance, which is demonstrated by the fact that in 1922 an archaeological finds specialist for the Province of Upper Silesian was employed by the city. In 1928, the museum was taken over by the local government of Bytom.
Through cooperation and collaboration with the enthusiasts of the city and the region, its own collector’s campaign and purchases of often valuable and substantial collections the museum acquired the status of a regional institution.
Official opening in the new building
The seat of the institution had changed many times, before the new museum building was built in the years 1929–1930 according to the design of architects A. Stütz and H. Hettler. Due to the global economic crisis, the building was only partially completed, the other half was never erected. The ground floor and the basement of the exhibition wing were occupied by the City Savings Bank and the City Public Library. The collections, located in several places, were moved to a new seat in 1931, and the official opening of the Upper Silesian Museum (Oberschlesisches Landesmuseum) took place on October 24, 1932.
There were five research departments in the museum: Natural History, Primitive History and Prehistoric Ages, Ethnography and City History, Ethnology and Art, as well as the Museum Library and the archaeological conservation workshop. In addition, the district office for nature protection and a branch of the Archaeological Artefacts Protection Office were located here. The exhibition halls presented numerous permanent exhibitions devoted to the natural history, prehistory, folk and bourgeois culture of Upper Silesia, the history of Bytom, the development of Upper Silesian industry and guild art.
Establishment of the Katowice museum
In 1927, in Katowice, the capital of the Polish part of Upper Silesia (the autonomous Silesian Voivodeship), first museum institution - the Silesian Museum started to be organized. Established in 1929, it had to wait for a permanent seat until 1939, when one of the most modern exhibition buildings in Europe was erected. Unfortunately, the outbreak of war made it impossible to organize exhibitions that had been prepared for years, and the new building was soon dismantled by the Germans.
It was thanks to the institution in Bytom that it was possible to save the exhibits of the Silesian Museum in Katowice, which was liquidated by the Germans in October 1939. They were transported to Bytom and placed in warehouses. In the years 1943–1944 the most valuable collections (also those from Katowice) were evacuated to the western part of Upper Silesia. As a result of frontline battles, the activities of the board of the Soviet war commissary and looters, the building was damaged, and part of the collection was destroyed and dispersed.
Post-war reactivation and nationalization
The securing works and the restitution action carried out from March 1945 by a group of pre-war employees of the Silesian Museum made it possible to rescue and recover some of the Katowice and Bytom collections. Those collections became the basis for the reactivation of a museum in Bytom, which was to continue the traditions and programme of the pre-war Silesian Museum. On May 10, 1946, the first exhibition devoted to the Silesian Uprisings was organized at the Silesian Museum in Bytom. Permanent exhibitions comprising natural history, archaeology, ethnography, and a gallery of Polish paintings were opened to the public in 1946 and 1947.
In 1950, the institution was nationalised and assumed the name: Upper Silesian Museum in Bytom. For many years it served as a regional museum, the central institution of Upper Silesian museology.
In the years 1992–1999, as a result of an agreement concluded between the Katowice Province Governor of Katowice and the President of the City of Bytom, the museum functioned as an institution financed both by the state and a local government, and in 1999 it was taken over by the self-government of the newly created Silesian Voivodeship. The nature of the huge collections of the Upper Silesian Museum has had a direct impact on the activities of the institution, which focuses on both regional and supra-regional problems.
There are five research departments in the museum: Archeology, Ethnography, History, Natural History and Art, as well as auxiliary departments, among others, Education or the Promotion and Publishing Department. The museum also has a special library which holds approximately 61,000 volumes.
The Upper Silesian Museum currently occupies two buildings: the two-winged main building erected in 1929–1930, housing exhibition halls, warehouses, workshops and offices, and the building (together with the outbuilding) of the former poviat starost office in Bytom. It dates from 1897-1899 and was designed by Walter Kern from Steglitz near Berlin, it is a building in which there are halls rented to other entities: the Column Hall and the Gorczycki Hall.
Today, the Upper Silesian Museum is a major museum with an unquestionable heritage, substantial collections and an autonomous programme. Open to everyone, it presents culture as a whole, as both, material and spiritual achievements, created in a specific space, time, having impact on man and being shaped by man. Culture is not detached from history, natural history, archaeology, human thought and creativity - it is a universal being, and we show it as such, while emphasizing our Silesian perspective.
The exhibitions presented at the Museum inspire reflection, are a source of positive experiences and various aesthetic impressions.
TOURING THE EXHIBITIONS
The exhibitions are located in the buildings of the Upper Silesian Museum at pl. Jana III Sobieskiego 2 and at ul. Wojciecha Korfantego 34 in Bytom.
Price list of admission tickets to exhibitions, participation in museum lessons and workshops at the Upper Silesian Museum in Bytom:
The ticket offices accept payment cards Mastercard, Visa, Maestro
- Regular ticket: 8 PLN
- Reduced ticket: 4 PLN
- Family Ticket/Big Family Card: 16 PLN (for 3 or more people)
- Euro26 Card: 4 PLN
On Sundays: Free admission to permanent exhibitions.
- Regular ticket: 8 PLN
- Reduced ticket: 4 PLN
- Family ticket/Big Family Card: 16 PLN (for 3 or more people)
- Euro26 Card: 4 PLN
- Group ticket (for one temporary exhibition): 4 PLN (10+ people; teachers/guardians of school groups - admission free)
- Regular ticket: 10 PLN
- Reduced ticket: 5 PLN
- Family Ticket/Big Family Card: 20 PLN (for 3 or more people)
Combined ticket to the Upper Silesian Museum in Bytom and the Silesian Museum in Katowice*.
It entitles you to visit both museums once. It is valid for 3 months from the date of purchase.
* Does not apply to the educational space “In search of Tomek Wilmowski” in the former carpentry workshop at the Silesian Museum and special exhibition “Skarby śląskiej szafy” at the Upper Silesian Museum in Bytom.
- Regular ticket: 32 PLN
- Reduced ticket: 21 PLN
- Family ticket/ Big Family Card: 80 PLN
Promotional ticket prices cannot be combined.
Amateur photography and filming of exhibitions without additional lighting and a tripod is allowed after prior arrangement with the exhibition staff.