The collection profile remains unchanged focusing on the heritage of the Lower Silesia region where most items in the collection originate from. Minor portion of items come from the Opole province, Upper Silesia, the province of Cieszyn or from the Silesian Beskids; such diversity provides the background for extended analyses and detailed comparisons with neighbouring areas. Single amateur art items from outside the Silesia territory were acquired in the national contests organised by the Museum. The exhibits provide a record of the Lower Silesia village life over the last three hundred years – since the 17th century until the modern times. At the same time they depict folk culture represented not only by the former native inhabitants of the region but by the immigrant settlers as well.
First collection consisted of items acquired from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage repositories in Bożkowo and Żelaźno and also from several regional museums in Karpacz, Szklarska Poręba, Niemcza, Bolków, Jawor, Jelenia Góra, Kamienna Góra, Brzeg, Wałbrzych and Ziębice. Some of the collections were liquidated, others changed their profile giving away redundant items, some museums deposited the most precious exhibits here. In 1949 the Museum made the first purchase of items which originated first and foremost from the Province of Opole and the Silesian Beskids. The purchase was possible thanks to special Ministry of Culture and National Heritage subsidies. The second stage of the acquisitions (1953-1956) was the fruit of systematic exploration of the Lower Silesia region, later accompanied by scientific research, then continued through the sixties and successive years. Penetration and stationary research was conducted at hundreds sites of the Kłodzko region, vicinity of Lwówek Śląski, Legnica and Wołów.
Batik Easter egg, the thirties 20th century, Hutsulschyna
Special attention was given to drawing, description and photograph records of source materials indicating cultural transformations. Records provided the base for future archives. Researchers focused on the areas where the traditional culture suffered from new industrial investment. “Rescue” measures, i.e. immediate buy out of historical items, were taken in towns and villages where the population was being displaced due to the planned constructions projects. The Museum has also been recording contemporary transformations of the folk culture. Works of art that used to be of no interest to ethnography before have also been acquired since 1968. Significant collection of amateur art items featuring mostly the culture of Lower and Upper Silesia was displayed at the first ever permanent Amateur Art Gallery established in Poland (open between 1980 and 1985). The exhibition presented around 150 works of a dozen or so artists. The collection would expand after final exhibitions crowning regional amateur art festivals and after the contests (e.g. “Figurative hives” “World of My Imagination").
Traditional yearly exhibitions and following Easter Fairs provide the record of ritual arts – still vivid and developing sphere of folk creativity open to new techniques, materials and ornamentation. The exhibitions and the spring ritual items contest organised in 1968 gave birth to the collection of around 600 Easter eggs, in great majority modern ones, yet drawing for inspiration on traditional techniques and unique patterns featuring the regions of Hutsulschyna, Lemkovyna, Rzeszów, Wołyń, Polesie, Suwałki, Lublin, Opole and Romanian Bucovina. The collection was enriched by hand made Hutzul Easter eggs from the thirties of the previous century. Contemporary art is represented by interesting examples of Lower Silesian nativity sites - door-to-door puppet cribs, Cracow style cribs and sculptures.
Coronation of Virgin Mary, 19th/20th century, Otmuchów, Opole Province
Unique character of the Lower Silesia region is explicitly reflected in the structure of the collection itself. Like post war immigrants, the items brought to the territory were uprooted from their natural environment. They fail to group around one consistent subject, however they provide most precious material for historic and culture research and for the study on the immigrants’ mentality and their expectations of the new life in the unknown land. On the other hand, the items make up excellent and in most cases unique collections of Lower Silesia art, frequently lacking the data testifying their origin. The fact results from the way they were acquired – from museum repositories, by Desa agency or as gifts from parishes. The collection of the Museum consists of around 12 thousand items (as of 2005). Precious exhibits of the collection allow performing the research on the multi-layered culture of Lower Silesia region, on its associations with adjacent territories. Special attention should be drawn to particular groups of exhibits.
Crank churn, beginning of 20th century, Lower Silesia
Resources available in the Department of Technologies enable the researches to reconstruct economic environment of the village life. They include farming equipment, means of transport, breeding and pasture equipment, items used for storing and processing food as well as craft products and tools.
Smithery is represented by around 350 tools and machines including the largest in Poland (26 items) collection of dated and embellished Lower Silesia anvils with the most numerous group of probably the oldest hornless anvils. All of them are embellished by means of stamp technique and provided with a date. The collection of lavishly adorned cart metal fittings reflects high artistic subtlety and quality of the smithery works.
Michał Podlipski, little vases modelled after Vilnius patterns, the fifties of 20th century, Wrocław
Looms and spinning wheels as well as elaborately decorated - painted and open-work - distaffs provide a good example of Lower Silesian weaving industry. Collection of blocks used for printing fabrics attracts attention not only due to the variety of patterns but to its sophisticated technology as well.
Exhibits acquired from the former Milicz Museum of Inland Fishing account for the major part of the fishing industry collection.
Ceramic items record the history of five pottery workshops revived in the Lower Silesia after 1945, particularly the work of Mr. Kazimierz Woźniak from Oława. The potter, a native from Pistyń in Pokucie, till the seventies of the previous century, would manufacture bowls, plates, flowerpots, candlesticks and trays modelled after the Pokucie majolica. Additionally the collection includes pre-war manufactured items, mostly from Bolesławiec factory with single items produced in adjacent regions.
Stoneware honey strainer, beginning of 20th century, vicinity of Środa Śląska, Lower Silesia
Fabrics and garments brought by the settlers after the war account for, apart from Lower Silesian clothing, significant portion of the Fabrics and Traditional Costumes Section. Items deserving special attention are a group of bed covers from Vilnius, a group of Hutzul kilims and the collection of regional coifs.
Nevertheless the collections of the ancient Lower Silesian art should be perceived as the most precious for its artistic and educational value. The Art Section lures visitors with its glass paintings, religious engravings, sculptures featured by the group of figurative hives, gingerbread forms and painted furniture.