On 22 August 2009, a permanent exhibition on the history of Bolesławiec was opened in the Museum of Ceramics’ building at 14 Kutuzowa St. The opening was a culmination of several-years efforts made by both museum staff and a large group of people passionate about the city’s past. The City History Department was established in 1995 in a building of the former Kutuzov Museum administered by Russians. In the first years, temporary exhibitions on selected issues from the city’s history were presented there. The permanent exhibition has an educational and popularising character. In eight rooms, the most important events and processes in the history of the city and the region are presented. The exhibition was arranged based on the Museum’s own collection as well as exhibits borrowed from other museums and private collections.
The Museum’s archeological collection represents the oldest period in the Bolesławiec region history, from the Mesolithic to the modern age (ca. 8000 BC to the 17th century). The oldest monuments are Mesolithic armour blades and two Neolithic axes. The collection of ceramics presented at the exhibition comes from excavations carried out by the Museum. These are mainly vessels and auxiliary equipment excavated at the Lusatian urn burial ground in Nowa (Commune of Bolesławiec). The most interesting exhibit from the Lusatian culture period is the treasure of bronze artefacts from Stara Oleszna (Commune of Bolesławiec). There are also exhibits found in the Olszanica village (Commune of Zagrodno) that come from the fortress of a robber-knight nicknamed Black Christopher. They include ceramic vessels, horseshoes and armaments typical of the late Middle Ages. The most spectacular archaeological discovery was a waste-pit used by one of five modern-time potteries at Piaskowa St in Bolesławiec. Among the various pottery fragments, intact vessels, firing pads, samplers, pot and plate tiles, bricks and sinters from the kiln as well as fragments of ceramic toys were also discovered.
At the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries, Bolesławiec was called “the cradle and paradise of Silesian modern poetry”. Here, many well-known poets were born who formed the so-called first Silesian school of poetry: Martin Opitz, Andreas Tscherning, Andreas Scultetus and Christoph Colerus. Other famous persons born in the city include the graphic artist David Tscherning and the astronomers: Kaspar Knoll and Christoph Neubarth. The Museum’s collection contains items that help to learn more about Martin Opitz, the father of German modern poetry: baroque graphics with the poet’s image, a collection of poems “Geistliche Poemata” published in the 17th century and a copy of the 17th-century portrait by Bartłomiej Strobel located in Gdańsk. Chronicles are also a valuable acquisition, especially the 17th-century copy of the F. Holstein’s chronicle which is the oldest historical record regarding Bolesławiec. The exhibition also presents tin and glass vessels, coins and daily-use items from the old Bolesławiec. The picture of the city’s history is complemented with a 19th-century graphics by C.T. Mattiss and E.W. Knippel, a 1924 oil painting depicting the panorama of the city by Hermann Schäfer, old photographs and maps as well as a magnificent model of the centre of Bolesławiec in ca. 1805, made by Zbigniew Skop to a scale of 1: 400 (dimensions: 2.5 × 1.5 m). Also interesting is a set of drawings – designs of a stained glass composition with the “Last Judgment” scene, made in 1922 by Artur Hennig – a valued painter and ceramist, professor at the Bolesławiec Vocational School of Ceramics.
The oldest pharmacy in Bolesławiec, “Die Kgl. privilegierte Stadtapotheke zu Bunzlau” was founded in 1558 by Heinrich Weiβkopf. It was located on the southern frontage of the market square (today: Rynek 7). In the mid-19th century, when the pharmacy belonged to Karl Wolf, the assistant pharmacist post was held by Hermann Mueller. In 1856, he began publishing the “Pharmazeutische Zeitung”, the most important trade journal in Germany, which exists till today. Another pharmacy, “Under the Star” at 12 Kubika St, owned by the pharmacist Seidel, was founded only in 1886 (later it was taken over by Karl Krebs). The “Under the Eagle” pharmacy at 9 Daszyńskiego St was founded in 1920. The first post-war pharmacy was opened in 1945 by Marceli Najder. The antique set of eclectic pharmacy furniture which can be seen in the City History Department dates back in 1893. It was made for the municipal pharmacy in Nowogrodziec to the order its owner, von Häckel. This pharmacy, founded before 1690, was originally located at Bolesławiecka St. but later was moved to a tenement house on the northern market square frontage. It received royal privileges in 1791. In the post-war period, most of the furniture was moved to the “Under the Heather” pharmacy where it stood until December 2005. In 2019, the exhibition was expanded with new modules: one botanical and one zoological. The former is to familiarise visitors with the healing properties of plants. The latter includes taxidermy animals and provides information on their use in medical treatment. The exhibition is complemented with a multimedia presentation with little-known, interesting information on pharmacy, herbal medicine and alchemy.
The collection related to the Napoleonic era in Bolesławiec and Silesia has been created from scratch. Today, it comprises a collection of military artefacts, graphics, furniture and soldier equipment. The most interesting exhibits are the French cuirassier’s scabbard made in 1813 at the imperial factory in Klingenthal and two sabres of the French light cavalry, one from the revolution period, the other is AN XI model. There are also noteworthy pieces of firearms: an English Brown Bess flintlock musket, which was also used by the Prussian Landwehr in 1813, a French AN XIII model flintlock pistol from the Saint Étienne plant and a flintlock rifle made at the Suhl plant in the early 18th century (ca. 1701-1705). Among the other military artefacts, special attention should be paid to the collection of several dozen cannon projectiles from the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. It includes full balls as well as grenades and black powder-filled bombs. The largest of them is a 10.8-inch mortar bomb of 50 kg weight. The collection of graphics presents scenes with the leading figures of the era, such as Napoleon, Tsar Alexander I and General Blücher, as well as Napoleonic soldiers. The most interesting are: the French graphics depicting the French invasion of Moscow in 1812, the scene of the Prince Hieronim Bonaparte’s victory over Prussia at the walls of Wroclaw in 1807 and the plan of the battle over Kaczawa in 1813. In 2019, a copy of Carl Marr’s painting “Children of Bolesławiec” was loaned to the Bolesławiec museum (it is a deposit of Haus Schlesien, Königswinter – Heisterbacherrott, and previously belonged to Bundesheimatgruppe Bunzlau zu Siegburg).
A huge set of archival photos introduces visitors to the post-war history of the city. It consists of works by several Bolesławiec photographers. The most representative collection is that of Alojzy Skorupa – it documents the changes taking place in Bolesławiec from 1946 to the early 1980s. Its oldest part was donated to the Museum by Alojzy Skorupa in 1968, the remaining part was donated by his daughter, Aleksandra Korocze in 1996. The authorial collections of Henryk Piotrowski, Edward Opała and Bolesław Marecki reflecting the most important events in the past 25-year history of the city have been passed to the Museum in recent years. The archival photographs perfectly describe the turning points in the recent history of Bolesławiec: the reconstruction of the city and its re-populating by emigrants from Yugoslavia, Eastern Borderlands, Siberia and France, political persecution by the Security Office, development of municipal institutions, organisations and associations, the emergence and growth of the underground Solidarity Movement and finally, the birth of democracy and local government system. They are accompanied by daily use items from the belongings of displaced persons as well as letters and other documents from the archives of the Bolesławiec branch of NSZZ “Solidarność” and other local institutions. The exhibition is complemented by modern multimedia, including videos, digital presentations and audio recordings, that enable showing the realities of post-war changes in the region in a more comprehensive manner.
The Museum owns a collection of over a hundred sculptures from 1964-2006 which are the aftermath of Ceramics and Sculpture Symposia taking place in Bolesławiec. These symposia, initially nationwide, gained international status in 1995. They are attended by both world-renowned artists and young, talented ceramists from many countries. At the exhibition one can see dozens of works by outstanding artists of international renown, such as Elżbieta Grosséova, Przemysław Lasak, Krzysztof Rozpondek, Mirosław Kociński, Andrzej Trzaska, Jindra Vikova, Marita Benke-Gajda, Bronisław Wolanin, Janina Bana-Kozłowska, Dieter Dietz, Krystyna Gay-Kutschenreiter, Stanisław Wiącek, Władimir Hyżyński, Aleksander Lwowicz, Mirosław Barański, Czesław Matyjewicz, Harald Jagodzieński, Ruta Benjamini, Paulina Pokorny-Ziemba, Marion Aksjaer Nielsen, Ewa Różańska, Małgorzata Olkuska, Kazimierz Kalkowski, Halina Olsztyn, Hanna Oksana Lypa, Anna Stawiarska and Jeng-Daw Hwang.