The modernisation of the buildings housing the main collection of the Museum of Warsaw, initiated in 2015, has entered into its final stage. The works involved the renovation of the facades of Old Town tenement houses, heavy construction works, and installation and structural works.
“The facades of 8 tenement houses facing the Market Place have recently been uncovered from behind the scaffolding. The ornaments and colours from the post-War reconstruction period have been restored”, said Jarosław Jóźwiak, Deputy Mayor, during a press conference on the site of the museum. “We would now like to present the work progress inside the museum, which are in their final stage. The renovation works have been performed with full awareness and respect for the historic fabric and the historic nature of the tenement houses.”
The cost of the construction and conservation works of the exterior and interior of the Old Town tenement houses amounts to approx. PLN 40 million gross, and the overall value of the project, including the purchase, conservation and digitalisation of the exhibits, and with the completion of the first stage of the main exhibition, amounts to PLN 61 million.
The conservation works on the facades of the museum's tenement houses were carried out until November 2015. The reconstruction of the colour design was carried out on the basis of a detailed analysis of the uncovered paint layers and laboratory test results. Their objective was to determine the colour pattern of the tenement houses' facades as they were in the period of the Old Town’s reconstruction after the ravages of War. The facades owe its current colours to the reconstruction works performed in 1953, when they were converted into the Museum building.
The modernisation works inside the tenement houses included construction, demolition and installation works with the use of modern technological solutions and materials in a way that harmoniously reflects the historical interior of the tenement houses. The requirement to conceal all the necessary technical devices as much as possible, so that they do not distract visitors, has been a challenge.
Original 17th and 18th century ceilings
A crucial stage of the works was also the completion of the restoration of the original polychrome wooden ceilings on the first and second floor of the tenement house at Rynek Starego Miasta 34, which had survived the War damage. Two of the ceilings date back to the 1620s, and the third to the 1730s. They had survived the War thanks to the reinforcement of their structure with reinforced concrete slabs between 1938 and 1939, during works aimed at adjusting the building to the needs of the Old Warsaw Museum, currently the Museum of Warsaw.
The paintings from Iskry in new surroundings
Moreover, the transfer and conservation of paintings from the walls of a former head office of the Iskry publishing house was carried out. The head office of the publishing house was situated on the second floor of the pre-War tenement house at 11 Smolna Street. The head office of Iskry was a place where outstanding Polish artists worked and met. When the tenement house in Smolna Street was returned to its pre-War owners, the publishing house moved to another location, while the paintings and drawings were left on the walls. Because of the anticipated major renovation of the building, they were taken down and transported to the library of the Museum of Warsaw.
The museum will be open to visitors at the end of May 2017.