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The Kornel Makuszyński Museum

 

The Kornel Makuszyński Museum is Zakopane’s second biographic-literary museum after the Jan Kasprowicz Museum in the Harenda. It is based in the Opolanka house where the Makuszyńskis had stayed during their almost annual summer and winter visits to Zakopane between the two World Wars, and where they settled after World War II. Many precious objects in the couple’s possession and their large library perished in Warsaw during World War II. The Makuszyński Museum houses merely a fraction of what the writer, an art collector on friendly terms with many outstanding artists, had assembled. The Museum was set up in 1966 following a donation made by Janina Gluzińska-Makuszyńska (1896–1972) the writer’s widow.

Kornel Makuszyński (1884–1953), born in Stryj [now Stryy, Ukraine], writer, journalist and drama critic, one of the most popular authors of children’s books, spent his youth in Lwów [now L’viv, Ukraine] where he went to grammar school and studied at the Philosophical Department of the Jan Kazimierz University. Before World War I, he worked as dramaturg at the Municipal Theatre in Lwów. During the war, Makuszyński and his first wife Emilia née Bażeńska were deported to Russia. Released on his friends’ pledge, he returned home, worked for several months at the Municipal Theatre in Lwów, subsequently leaving the city for good. Till 1918, he lived in Kiev, was dramaturg at Stanisława Wysocka’s Polish Theatre and acted as President of the local Society of Writers and Journalists. While in Kiev, he wrote his first novels.

A new period started in the writer’s life, after Poland regained independence and Makuszyński settled in Warsaw. In the 1930s he wrote his most popular books for children and young people. These were Przygody Koziołka Matołka [Silly Billy Goat’s Adventures]; O dwóch takich co ukradli księżyc [The Moon-stealing Two]; Przyjaciel Wesołego Diabła [Joyful Devil’s Friend]; Skrzydlaty chłopiec [Winged Boy]; Wielka brama [Great Gate]; Wyprawa pod psem [Dog-omened Expedition]; Szatan z siódmej klasy [Seventh-grade Satan]; List z tamtego świata [Otherworldly Letter]. Active as a novelist, he was also a prolific journalist. His comments and reviews appeared in almost all of the popular periodicals, making him one of the best-known figures in Warsaw’s artistic and social life. From 1934, Zakopane acted as second home to Makuszyński and his second wife Janina née Gluzińska.

 

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Translated & edited by: Joanna Holzman, Adrian Smith, Anna Wende-Surmiak