Th exhibition “A New Beginning. Modernism in the Second Polish Republic” includes roughly 500 exhibits ranging from works of art to technological advances, architecture to textile design, furniture to mundane items in day-to-day use. It presents the diversity, dynamics, and original character of Modernism in Poland in the interwar period. The exhibition will be held from 12 February 2023 at the Main Building of the National Museum in Krakow.

How should a functional kitchen be designed? Why did health resorts and sanatoriums become so popular? How should cities be designed to ensure their functionality? The answers to these questions were formulated shortly after Poland regained its independence, resulting  in innovative modernisation programmes.

The exhibition covers the most significant aspects of ongoing processes involving the construction of a new state, social reforms, and daily life which was changing in the face of technological progress. The items displayed in the exhibition are examples of architectural solutions, urban planning concepts, and elements of interior design which speak volumes about the Modernist ambitions inherent in the rationalisation of public and private space. Examples of experiments in painting, photography, and typography illustrate attempts to refashion the human view of life, while selected technical devices and their design highlight the Modernists’ fascination with technology.

The 1920s and 30s also saw the beginnings of passenger aeronautics in Poland, the first international flight connections, and preliminary transatlantic flights. These were the times of the beginnings of the Polish national airlines LOT and of the inauguration of the Okęcie airport in Warsaw. For this reason there will be no shortage of items associated with aviation. Among the exhibits are also archival issues of publications such as “Skrzydlata Polska (Winged Poland)”, “Młody lotnik (Young Flyer)” and “Pilot”, as well as promotional posters for PLL LOT and flight schedules from the 1930s.

The exhibition will also display aspects of sporting competitions and health resorts which are an expression of the Modernist approach to the body, while at the same time echoes of tradition appearing in works of art from the period provide a glimpse into the Modernists’ search for sources of creative inspiration.

Artists and legions of reformers in other fields of human endeavour, in a testament to the rapidly unfolding modernity of the times, came to the conclusion that art should play an active role in the mending of the modern world and should help to create it anew, without repeating the mistakes of the past.

The exhibition does not only include works of art such as painting, sculpture, graphics, photography or arts and crafts; it also covers items of daily life, technical devices, architectural dioramas, and publications. The diverse nature of the exhibits reflects the dynamism of Modernism and its ambitions stemming from the transformations occurring at the time in every field of life.

The exhibition “A New Beginning. Modernism in the Second Polish Republic” was co-financed with funds provided by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage.

The exhibition partner is Kraków Airport.