|"Polish Museum of America in Chicago"|
--[Magdalena Korybska, from Chicago for malarze.com
After a few difficult discussions spanning several years, the Polish Museum of America was founded in 1937 in Chicago at the Polish Roman Catholic Union. Its primary goal was gathering historical documents from Poland and Polonia for study by future generations to evoke respect for Poles in America.
Most of the collection was received as gifts or held on deposits. Numerous items were delivered to the museum in 1941 from the Polish Pavilion of the New York World’s Fair. These particular pieces could not be returned to Poland due to the ongoing war and lack of transportation to the country. Since then, the museum began expanding its collection. They purchased many new items and changed their focus to collecting artwork.
The collection is divided into two sections. The first is historical, which includes relics of Ignacy Paderewski, Helena Modrzejewska, Tadeusz Kosciuszko and other prominent Polonia activists. The second is the art collection. The items from the Polish Pavilion include artwork from all genres, folk art and religious artifacts.
Jozef Czapski, "House for Pigeons"
The painting gallery primarily contains paintings created during the period between the World Wars. Unfortunately, the Polish masters are represented by single paintings. Among the paintings in the gallery one can find works by Olga Boznanska, Jacek Malczewski, Jan Styka, Jozef Rapacki, Tadeusz Ajdukiewicz, Alfons Karpinski, Tytus Czyzewski, Eugeniusz Eibisch, Tadeusz Pruszkowski, Stanislaw Czajkowski, Jozef Czapski, Stanislaw Zukowski, Tadeusz Potworowski, Stefan Nacht-Samborski and others. Historical paintings include works by Juliusz and Wojciech Kossak, Waclaw Pawliszak, and Wladysław Szerner.
One of the most important is the painting by Wojciech Kossak, entitled "Equestrian Portrait of the General John Pershing", painted in 1922, has a note in the bottom right corner written in English: "Sketch for large painting donated by the artist to the U.S. Gov". Its previous version which was donated by the Polish Deputy Mr. J. Ciechanowski to the State Secretary Mr. Davis on January 28, 1929, was mentioned in Kossak’s letter to his wife written from New York on November 1920. He stated: "In those days I will start the people’s hero Pershing on the horse. You may even not understand what does it mean to me and how many painters wish to be in my place, but he’ll be seated only for me, “because Kossak is major in the Polish cavalry” – he said". The painting is measuring 150 x 190 cm and today is displayed in the Military Academy in West-Point.
Tymon Niesiolowski, "Summer"
There are also some recently purchased paintings by Stasys Eidgrigevicius, Tymon Niesiolowski, Jerzy Nowosielski, Jan Dobkowski and Kazimierz Mikulski. The Museum also contains several works by non-Polish artists such as Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall.
Stanislaw Kaczor-Batowski, "Pulaski at Savannah"
Two very large paintings complete the collection. "Pulaski at Savannah" (1933) by Stanislaw Kaczor-Batowski was a gift from the Polish Woman’s Alliance of America. It was previously exhibited at the Century Progress Fair in Chicago. When the fair closed, it was exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago and purchased by members of the PWA in 1939.
Wojciech Kossak, "Reminiscence of Childhood – The Scythe man’s Rank on Krakowskie Przedmiescie Street"
The second one was a gift from the aristocratic family Drucki-Lubecki. The painting "Reminiscence of Childhood – The Scythe man’s Rank on Krakowskie Przedmiescie Street" (1891) is one of the most important paintings by Wojciech Kossak. A note in the bottom right corner states "After the fire in the castle in Baltow destroyed repainted and restored in 1929." The second version of this painting was mentioned in the Wojciech Kossak's monography by Kazimierz Olszanski. The painting which he couldn’t sell in United States was taken back to Poland to be finished in Krakow in 1929. During the World War II the work was transported from Poland and lost till 1978 when it was found in harbor storage in New York. The painting was lying there rolled and forgotten for over 30 years and then was donated to the Polish Museum of America.
The final section of the museum’s art collection is the sculpture collection, which contains works by Alfons Karny, Stanislaw Rzecki and Konstanty Laszczka, among others.
Polish Museum of America
984 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622