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The Museum of the Kielce Region Countryside and the Ethnographic Park in Tokarnia

The Museum of the Kielce Region Countryside and the Ethnographic Park in Tokarnia

The Museum of the Kielce Region Countryside and the Ethnographic Park in Tokarnia present historical wooden architecture monuments transfered from different localities of the Świętokrzyskie region. The museum is composed of 38 features in five sectors: small-town architecture, highlands, estate and farm, Swiętokrzyskie architecture and loess landscape.

The Museum of the Kielce Region Countryside and the Ethnographic Park in Tokarnia was founded in 1976 and opened its doors in 1977. It constitutes the fulfilment of the scientific aspirations of an ethnographer and expert in traditional folk culture, professor Roman Reinfuss. He intended to reproduce a typical settlement arrangement from the villages of different subregions of the Kielce region: the Świętokrzyskie Mountains, the Krakowsko-Częstochowska and Sandomierska Uplands as well as the Nidziańska Basin. On an area of 65 ha a total of 38 features have been collected which reflect the spatial arrangement of a village: the shape of a homestead, enclosures, the small architecture elements etc. Almost in every cottage we can witness some traditional handicraft workshops, such as: a carpenter’s, roofer or plaiter’s working place. The rural landscape resembling 18th and 19th century setting has been completed with elements of farming industry, such as a windmill and a blacksmith’s shop, as well as public utility buildings (e.g.: a school, a shop), a farm and estate complex, and sacral buildings – a church and a few chapels. The gorgeous natural scenery and traditional green areas complete the architecture: e.g. home garden surrounding some groups of buildings and separating them. All these elements enhance the impression of authenticity and make the visitors feel as though they were in a different age. That is why the Museum of the Kielce Region Countryside can become an attractive place not only for a Sunday stroll. Its exceptional scenery can be recommended to all those who would like to arrange a photo shoot on its premises, organise their wedding ceremony in a small wooden church or hold their wedding party in an 18th century granary from Złota with accommodation in a specially prepared historical building relocated from Ruda Pilczycka with eight rooms (ośmiorak).

The museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodship. In 2008 it had over 70 thousand visitors. It exhibits many valuable features. One of them is unique in Poland – a 19th century treadmill well from an estate relocated from Góry Pińczowskie. Its main function was drawing water from a depth of around 70-76 metres, but around the well itself there were many informal meeting places where the residents and workers of the farm could exchange information. This exceptional building is composed of a deep well, a horse drawn treadmill and a building to shelter the whole structure composed in turn of the following connected elements: an octagon with the well and an octagon roofing the treadmill. The whole structure is covered with a shingled roof. The exhibition presenting a 19th century small-town pharmacy is also worth a visit. We can see there, among other things: an American cash desk imported from Ohio, a pillmaker – an appliance to make pills and a machine to produce candles, as well as many other old tools. Recipients, flasks and jars for medicine stand on the historical pharmacy furniture relocated from an apothecary’s in Busko-Zdrój. The colour of the label on the jar informed about the strength of a given drug. Also the building which holds the apothecary’s exhibition is very interesting. For this is the house of an organist from Bielin, from the beginning of the 19th century. It is a wooden structure which was then boarded, with a wide front façade, a beautiful porch and a shed pediment roof. Its main structure resembles 19th century gentry manor houses.

The Museum of the Kielce Region Countryside also has a complex of sacral buildings. Visitors can admire, among other things, the magnificent church under the invocation of Our Lady of Consolation from Rogów, built of wooden logs in 1763. The polychrome ceiling is breathtaking. A wooden bell tower from Kazimiera Wielka is located next to the church. There is also a stone figure of Saint John Nepomucen nearby. This Czech saint protected fields and villages of the Kielce region from floods, but also from droughts.

The museum is, moreover, the only heir of the works of the famous folk sculptor Jan Bernasiewicz – the creator of the „Garden of sculptures”. The exhibition devoted to his and his wife’s artistic work, a folk poetess writing about her husband’s sculptures, is open to visitors in the homestead from Bukowska Wola.

Windmills are always an interesting element of every Ethnographic Park. We can also admire them in the Tokarnia Park. The windmill from Grzmucin is especially attention-grabbing. Indeed, this is a roller windmill called paltrak. You can not only watch it from the outside, but also go inside. Visitors have the unique opportunity to see what the mechanism of the windmill looked like. It made it possible to turn the whole building in the direction of the wind. Also the way in which querns worked is shown. Apart from the paltrak from Grzmucin, the museum has two other windmills, among others a Dutch windmill from Pacanów, a village famous thanks to the children’s book Adventures of Koziolek Matolek.

The buildings from the Ethnographic Park in Tokarnia stand out thanks to their shingled roofs. While in other regions of Poland shingled roof were a sign of luxury, in the Kielce region, which was a shinglers’ region, it was quite common.The Ethnographic Park in Tokarnia is constantly being extended. The huge area, beautifully located in the valley of the river Czarna Nida, is well suited for plans of extension. In its final state the museum is supposed to have 120 features. Currently, the newest monument is the presbytery from Goźlice, located in the sector of small-town architecture. In the near future it should be adapted to host exhibitions and educational events. The following projects are planned for the nearest future: an extension of the small-town sector's exhibition, the construction of a „new” tavern in the museum and a hotel, a conference room and a canoe harbour by the river, as well as an amphitheatre.

The Museum of the Kielce Region Countryside also carries out scientific and research project and has a publishing activity. The archives and the museum’s library hold a rich collection of books and movies which document all the events organised in the Museum from its opening. The facility also has hundreds of valuable monographs concerning the architecture of the region and the local handcraftsmanship. The library and the archives are open for all interested visitors.

The Ethnographic Park in Tokarnia is worth visiting the whole year round, since every season grants to this place a unique atmosphere. However this beauty spot is especially interesting during one of the periodical folkloric events such as: The Folklore Fair of the Świętokrzyskie Region, the Bread Festival, or Świętokrzyskie Region Hubertus Festival. Moreover, the museum in Kielce is a perfect place to organise different types of meetings, conferences and events. It offers not only museum lessons and conference rooms for different events, but also organises sleigh rides, feasts and weddings, during which traditional regional dishes are served.

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