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The Birthplace of Fryderyk Chopin and Park in Żelazowa Wola has been visited continuously for decades by admirers of Chopin’s music from al. around the world. We encourage you to visit the Polish composer’s birthplace in particular this year, due to the opening of a new permanent display, which was ceremoniously unveiled in May.  

This is only the third display in the history of the site. The idea of creating a Chopin museum at Żelazowa Wola arose at the end of the nineteenth century, but it was only implemented in the 1930s. At that time, the Chopin annexe was thoroughly renovated, and a columned porch was added, lending the building the character of a noble manor house. At the same time, work began on arranging the interiors. The inauguration of the new museum was prevented by the outbreak of war, in 1939. The museum was not officially opened until 1949, on the centenary of Fryderyk Chopin’s death.

The first display was produced in the spirit of a Polish manor house. The second was prepared in 2010 for the bicentenary of Chopin’s birth. That was marked by simplicity and a sparing style. Many exhibits were removed, and a narrative (audio guide) leading the visitor around the memorial park and the interior of the house became a crucial element of the display. That narrative was based on the results of source research into the history of Chopin’s birthplace, which was carried out on a wide scale prior to Chopin Year (2010).

The scenario for the present display was similarly based on the latest research into the history of Żelazowa Wola. During the nineteenth century, the Birthplace of Fryderyk Chopin was a manor house annexe, divided into two: rooms for the members of the household on the right; rooms for the servants and a kitchen on the left. That functional division inspired the scenario for the new display, the narrative of which focusses on two equal strands: the Chopin and Skarbek families and the history of the museum devoted to Fryderyk Chopin, which became a unique memorial park.

A visit begins on the right side, and entering the historical interiors of the annexe is like embarking on a journey in time. It begins in the early nineteenth century, when Żelazowa Wola was home to the estate’s owners, the Skarbek family, together with Justyna and Mikołaj [Nicolas] Chopin, and ends in our times. That part of the display tells of the two families’ mutual relations against the backdrop of the two rooms which represent an attempt at an historical reconstruction of the Chopins’ living room and the study of Michał Skarbek, in which we find carefully selected historical furniture and other objects from the period. The third and most important room in the narrative is the one in which Fryderyk Chopin was born. This room has been treated symbolically. On one hand, it is a space with an emotional quality; on the other, it functions as a concert space (Chopin recitals have been given here for more than sixty years). This interior is a sort of sanctuary, with an ascetic decor confined to just a few elements, in which music, Chopin’s likeness, a piano and flowers commemorate the composer and his work.

Passing through the hallway into the left part of the annexe, visitors come to the Music Room. Here begins the second part of the tale: the history of the museum devoted to the composer. Inspired by the pre-war designs for the display, its interior contains specially designed furniture, jacquard fabrics and carpet, as well as a period grand piano on which salon-style chamber concerts will be performed. The last two rooms serve an informational function. Here, the visitor learns how a humble manorial annexe was transformed into a manor house in the national style and also about the layout of the modernist park surrounding Chopin’s Birthplace, with which it forms a memorial to the composer.

A key element of the display consists of original objects, presented at Chopin’s Birthplace for the first time in such number. These include Chopin family souvenirs, such as books from Mikołaj Chopin’s library – the only extant objects which the Chopins probably had in their rooms at Żelazowa Wola. There are also first editions of compositions by the young Chopin and a letter sent by the seventeen-year old composer to his family.

The display also relates the reception of this site, which is forged by successive generations of admirers of the music of Fryderyk Chopin. Hence the part which tells of the museum’s fortunes is in a sense a tribute to those whose determination made it possible to create the Birthplace of Fryderyk Chopin.

The display was designed both for visitors anticipating an emotional experience and also for people expecting a considerable amount of information about the Chopins, the Skarbeks, their relations and the living conditions at Żelazowa Wola.

For the purposes of the new display, a new folder has been produced, containing the most important information about the display and the museum, available in several languages. You can visit Chopin’s Birthplace individually, looking at the items on display, reading their descriptions and the brief information about the rooms. You can also ask questions of the staff on duty, who will be glad to provide more details.


Mariola Wojtkiewicz

Maciej Janicki