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September 2010 saw the launch of a thorough reconstruction of a tenement house at No 7 Kościelna Street where the Wojtyła family had lived before WW II and where the papal museum has operated since 1984. At the same time, work started on a new, multimedia exhibition that will take the visitor on a trip through different stages of the Holy Father’s life, inviting reflection and showing the climate and life in pre-war Wadowice. Upon completion, the museum will become a state-of-the-art cultural institution appropriate for the 21st century and worthy of the greatness of Pope John Paul II. The museum will welcome first visitors in first 2014.
Karol Wojtyła, the son of Emilia and Karol Wojtyła, was born on 18th May 1920 in an apartment building in 7 Koscielna Street, Wadowice. Today it features a Family Home Museum of John Paul II open to public since 9th April 2014. Its heart is the flat rent by the future Pope’s parents since 1919, consisting of a kitchen, a bedroom and a living room. It has been equipped with furniture from the era and genuine Wojtyła family memorabilia such as Emilia’s hand-made lace napkins, her handbag and gold locket, tableware and family photos.
MODERN MULTIMEDIA EXHIBITION
UNIQUE VIEW ON THE LIFE OF JOHN PAUL II,
HIS TEACHING AND MESSAGE
Passing through 1200 m2 of 16 thematic areas located on 4 floors, we get acquainted with stages of Karol Wojtyła – John Paul II’s life: from his family home in Wadowice where “it all began” to his new home – the whole world. We discover pre-war Wadowice town, hike with the Pope. In the mountains, get to know the historic context of his work and take part in 104 apostolic trips. We can accompany John Paul II in his return to the House of the Father and explore his path to sanctity.
The exhibition tells the story of a man who, growing in a small town in southern Poland, learnt about respect, dialogue, openness towards people and the understanding of other cultures. It enables us to “travel in time” and get the sense of the impact his first 18 years in Wadowice had on his future life.
Museum, annually visited by about 250 thousand people from all over the world, boasts nearly 200 genuine memorabilia of John Paul II and his family as well as 140 historic photos. The museum is a skillful combination of modern high-tech and multimedia solutions with the traditional way of exhibiting which enables everyone to find something for oneself and discover the richness of the Pope’s life and message.
We are looking forward to meet you in Wadowice – the place where “it all began” as John Paul II used to say!
The mission of the museum is to preserve and popularize the knowledge about the Holy Father John Paul II’s life and teaching since his pontificate and message occupy a special place in Polish national heritage. The museum attempts to preserve for future generations the memory of Pope John Paul II as an example of a noble and wise person, embracing people of all kinds, widely respected and held in high esteem.
The mission of the Museum also includes supporting the family seen as the basic and irreplaceable unit that molds man’s character, his system of values, civic attitude, and encourages active participation in creating a society espousing Christian values.
“I always return to this town with a feeling that I am expected here as if in my family home. And the house was in Kościelna Street…”
The tenement house at No 7 Kościelna Street (formerly No 2 Rynek) was built around 1870. It used to belong to Seweryn Kurowski, a chemist and deputy mayor of Wadowice. In 1905, the house became the property of Józef Lisko, a confectioner, who – six years later – sold it to a Jew, Chaim Bałamuth, a merchant and president of the local Jewish community as well as a town alderman. There, Bałamuth ran a hardware store facing the Square, and Adolf Zadora had a bookbinding workshop in the back while upstairs flats were rented out to lodgers.
In 1919, Karol Wojtyła Sr., his wife Emilia Kaczorkowska and their 13-year-old son Edmund moved in, taking up two rooms and a kitchen. Their second son, Karol Józef (the future Holy Father John Paul II) was born there on May 18, 1920 and lived there for the next eighteen years. During that time, he lost both his mother who died in 1929 and his brother Edmund who passed away in 1932. Together with his father he left Wadowice in 1938 to study at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, majoring in Polish.
Their old home had undergone many changes: a parquet floor replaced the old painted boards; the doors connecting an enfilade suite of rooms were moved from close to the windows to the center of the walls; a new door opened to the balcony now; two windows (overlooking the church) were walled up; and finally, three more rooms were added.
The idea to set up a museum dedicated to the Pope was first conceived by Rev. Prelate Edward Zacher, Ph.D., long serving the Holy Father as his religion teacher and a parish priest in Wadowice, and His Eminence Franciszek Cardinal Macharski. Before the museum could be established, it was necessary to find substitute flats for the lodgers.
Father Zacher proved very helpful in handling the formalities while the Metropolitan Curia of Cracow and the Wadowice Town Council both offered their support. By 1980, most lodgers had moved out making it possible to undertake major renovation of the building in 1981-1982. The house was very dilapidated and required reinforcing the floors, replacing the wooden balcony with a concrete one, replacing the windows and laying a new parquet floor.
On May 18, 1984 – John Paul II’s 64th birthday – the exhibition in the Holy Father John Paul II Family Home was ready.
As only very few original fixtures and furniture of the Wojtyłas’ flat survived, the exhibition had the character of a rather permanent biographical display. Its objective was to portray and preserve for posterity the life and works of Karol Wojtyła in Poland before he became the Bishop of Rome. The exhibition consisted of John Paul II’s personal belongings and chronologically arranged papers, handwritten documents, books and photographs. The most valuable exhibits included: a picture – the First Holy Communion keepsake; a scapular presented to young Karol Wojtyła by the Carmelite Fathers of Wadowice on “Górka”; a picture taken at his first Holy Mass Service with his autograph; two rosaries of the Holy Father (one given to him by Sister Lucia of Fatima); his cardinal’s garment; the papal garment which he put on immediately after being elected the Pope. The exhibition was designed by Marek Rostworowski.
In 1998, two more rooms were added to the permanent exhibition to showcase a composition of photographs arranged so as to symbolically depict Pope John Paul II and his homeland. The photographs were taken during the Holy Father’s three visits to Wadowice and at the 20th anniversary of his appointment to the Holy See.
Ever since Karol Wojtyła was elected Pope,the Holy Father John Paul II Family Home has become a focal point for numerous pilgrims from Poland and all over the world. With every passing year of his pontificate, as Pope John Paul II unveiled a new face of Christianity for the world to see and approached people of different faiths, more and more pilgrims wished to visit the places where the Pope spent his childhood and youth. Thus, as the result of spontaneously increasing tourist and pilgrim traffic, there arose a need to preserve any memorabilia related to the Holy Father and to spread his teaching and message. A state-of-the-art exhibition housed in the renovated Holy Father John Paul II Family Home will make these objectives realistically achievable.
The front of the tenement building will be restored to its original appearance dating back to the 1920’s and the Museum will take up the entire renovated building. The renovated three-room flat of the Wojtyłas on the second floor will preserve its family home character and remain the heart of the Museum. However, the project provides for presenting various aspects of Karol Wojtyła’s later life. The first room will recreate the atmosphere of a complete family whereas in the second one the mother’s presence will fade away since she passed away when Karol was just nine years old; the third room will evoke another tragic event – the death of his brother – with its austere interior in which the orphaned Karol lived alone with his father.
The space will increase from 200 square meters originally to 1,000 square meters on four floors, thanks to, among other things, the expansion and adaptation of the basement and attic. Numerous multimedia, animation and surprisingly authentic components of the display will vividly bring the meetings between Pope John Paul II and other people to life. Effective interaction with the visitors will keep the Museum alive and entice them to come back.
The Holy Father John Paul II Family Home was designed by Kłaput Project Design Studio which developed the design for (among others) the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising, an institution generating great interest of the general public. Barbara and Jarosław Kłaputs’ project offers a unique insight into the Pope’s personality and an unconventional take on his teaching and message. Biuro Projektów Lewicki Łatak Architectural Engineers developed the construction design of the building. The new Museum will open in the first quarter of 2013 –
The design was presented on October 5, 2010 at the official groundbreaking ceremony to start the reconstruction of the Holy Father John Paul II Family Home Museum.
The project is financed with an EU grant under “Priority 3.3 Scheme A: Development of Cultural Infrastructure of the Małopolska Regional Operational Programme 2007-2013”.
Father Łukasz Piórkowski – Director
Arkadiusz Kosowski – Deputy Director of Programme Case
General supervision by the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport of the Republic of Poland; direct supervision by the Board of Małopolska Voivodeship (Zarząd Województwa Małopolskiego).
Museum of the Holy Father
John Paul II Family Home in Wadowice
ul. Kościelna 7, 34-100 Wadowice
NIP: 551-25-80-813, Regon: 121214635
ul. Spadzista 4, 34-100 Wadowice (mailing address)
tel: 33 823 35 55
tel: 33 823 26 62