2 December 2021
70 years in museum sector is a lot, but it is only a blink of an eye compared to the 6,000 years of salt mining tradition in Wieliczka, or the over 13.5 million years that have passed since the formation of the local salt deposits. So, 70 years — is it a lot or not? it depends on the context and point of view. Nevertheless, it should, at least to cut a long story short, recall the history of our Museum and present its collections and contemporary activities.
Cracow Saltworks Museum Wieliczka is a state cultural institution whose mission is to protect and popularise the history of salt mining in Poland, perceived as a durable heritage of humanity. it was established primarily to save and protect the historic workings of the salt mines in Wieliczka and Bochnia.
The beginning of the Museum is assumed to be 1951, namely the organisation and opening of an exhibition by photographer, visionary, social activist and educator, Alfons Długosz, in the Warszawa chamber in the mine. at that exhibition were presented old mining equipment and mineralogical specimens obtained during the exploration of old, abandoned workings. The activities undertaken with great enthusiasm by alfons Długosz led to a wider public interest in the historical part of the Wieliczka Mine, as well as gaining support from the then state authorities.
as a result of the initiatives undertaken by alfons Długosz, the management of the salt mine not only abandoned
the plans of liquidation (leaching the remaining salt residues constituting the crust away — walls and ceilings of the chambers, and, consequently, the destruction of historical excavations), but also engaged in helping to complete the collections and their storage in the chambers made available to the Museum. The first Museum, established at the mine,
was subordinated to the central Board of Museums and Monument Protection in 1954, and was directly supervised by the cracow Branch of the association of art Historians. in 1956, the cracow Saltworks Museum in Wieliczka became a branch of the Wawel State art collection. in 1961, the Museum gained independence and was directly subordinated to the Ministry of culture and art. and this is how things stayed to this day — the Museum is a cultural institution, with the Ministry of culture and National Heritage as its sole organiser.