Proper location for the main seat
The main seat of the Archaeological Museum in Gdańsk is located at ul. Mariacka 25/26. There is one of the largest and the most representative tenement houses in Gdańsk, also known as the Naturalists House.
Construction of the tenement house
The tenement house was probably erected between 1597 and 1599 according to the design of Anton van Obberghen for the commission of Hans Köpe.
Initially, it was a combination of a residential house and a storage facility, with a side facade from the Motława River, with an added multi-storey bay window (an element of the building protruding from its facade) rarely used in Gdańsk, crowned with a double gable.
An extraordinary construction
A characteristic feature of the tenement house is its 30-metre facade.
However, its greatest adornment is something quite different, a narrow 36-metre turret with a staircase, located in the corner between the north facade and the Mariacka Gate. The turret is crowned with a beautiful, majestic helmet.
There are some more architectonic attractions to see. From ul. Mariacka, next to the entrance to the building, there is a typical high stoop decorated with stone slabs. They present portrayals of women who are personifications of Astronomy, Geography, Medicine and Science.
Where did the "Naturalists House" name come from?
The tenement house owes its name to the fact that from 1846 it was the seat of the Gdańsk Naturalist Society.
An interesting fact is that the founder of the Society (established in 1743) was a remarkable scientist, Daniel Gralath, who later became the mayor of Gdańsk.
In the new seat, that is the museum's tenement house, the Society had its meeting halls, scientific workshops, a small museum and a library with approximately 20 thousand volumes.
The interior was adorned with portraits of scientists, such as Nicolaus Copernicus, Mathias Nathanael Wolff, Daniel Gralath and a bust of Johannes Hevelius which was a gift from the Polish king Stanisław August Poniatowski.
In 1866, an astronomical observatory was located in the tower (back then, instead of a decorative helmet, it was crowned with a rotatable dome).
The museum adopts the tenement house to its seat
The tenement house was badly destroyed during the Second World War. Only the front wall and the tower survived the turmoil. It was rebuilt between 1956 and 1961 according to the design of Kazimierz Macur, its form resembling the original construction. The tenement house was to house a newly established Archaeological Museum.
What is inside?
Today three first storeys of the building and adjacent back premises house permanent exhibitions devoted mostly to the prehistory of Pomerania. On the next three storeys and the in Mariacka Gate adjacent to the tenement house there are museum offices and workshops.
"Prehistoric Times of Gdańsk Pomerania" is an exhibition presenting the oldest history of Gdańsk Pomerania and it is the most important permanent exhibition at the Museum. It provides information and familiarises the visitors with a specific character of local prehistoric societies.
"With Amber through the Millennia" is divided into two parts.The first one is devoted to the presence of amber in nature. It features the issues such as the origin of amber, its deposits, identification process and its varieties.The second part is about the place of amber in culture. It presents goods made of amber, as well as items used in amber manufacturing which developed in Poland.
The "Illnesses of the prehistoric people in Poland" exhibition presents the issues connected with health of our ancestors. The exhibited items show various types and lesions from the neolithic period to medieval times.
"1000 years of Gdańsk in the light of excavation works" presents 1000 year old history of the city of Gdańsk based on excavation works.
"The secrets of the Nile Valley. Sudan. Archaeology and Ethnography" is an exhibition presenting the results of long-term archaeologic survey conducted in the Nile Valley, Sudan. It introduces an exotic and mysterious world of the ancient Nubia.