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The Collection Objectives

The Collection Objectives


The Collection beginnings and development

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow MOCAK was established in February 2010 and it was in the same year that the first works found their way to the Collection. During the eight years of the Museum’s existence, we have succeeded in acquiring 5107 works (with 1215 distinct inventory numbers) by 333 Polish and international artists. One of the main objectives of the expansion of the Collection is to achieve the Museum’s statutory objectives by collecting and presenting Polish art from the second half of the 20th century against the background of world art. Just as important are the presentation of the main trends of contemporary art and popularisation of the achievements of the leading artists across diverse audiences.

The largest part of MOCAK Collection is the Potocka Gallery Collection, which was donated in two tranches, in 2011 and 2014 respectively. It goes back to the 1970s and was involved in Maria Anna Potocka’s endeavour to establish a Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow. The works comprised in the original Potocka Gallery Collection are the core of the MOCAK Collection, around which it is being extended. Along with the Potocka Gallery donation, the Museum also received archival materials.

Other donors include artists and collectors. In 2011, from Mikołaj Smoczyński’s heirs, MOCAK received a legacy of the artist’s works and an archive. These are the artist’s both early and late paintings together with a photographic archive of several thousand negatives and prints.

In addition to private donors, institutions are also donors. In 2011, PKO BP Bank donated to the Museum a sculpture by Mirosław Bałka.

Grants from the Minister of Culture and National Heritage are an essential source of financing for purchases. During 2011-2016, as part of the development programme of the National Collection of Contemporary Art, we purchased 275 works by Polish and foreign artists.

Archives are an important element of MOCAK Collection. Currently, the Museum has the archives of Marian Eile, Władysław Hasior, Mieczysław Porębski, Mikołaj Smoczyński the Krzysztofory Gallery, the Krakow Group, and an archive related to all the artists represented in our Collection. The archival collections comprise press articles, exhibition reviews, catalogues, photographic and design documentation and correspondence. The archive of the artists represented in our Collection is being systematically supplemented and provides a good starting point for research on contemporary art.


The MOCAK Collection – founding principles

MOCAK's collection policy encompasses works related to the 20th-century avant-garde tradition – from modernism through trends related to expression, theatre, performance and abstraction. These trends continue in postmodernism and conceptualism, which are also belong to the Museum’s focus of interest. For the MOCAK Collection, equally important are the works of artists associated with the Fluxus movement, as well as works that exemplify all kinds of experiments and shifts of media boundaries. The oldest works date back to the 1970s, but above all we focus on those produced since the early 1990s.

The MOCAK collection is international, with approximately fifty percent of it works by Polish artists. The juxtaposition of Polish art with outstanding examples of international art has enabled us to highlight the world-class level of national art. At the same time, we have created a historical group consisting of important figures of Polish culture - Leon Chwistek, Marian Eile, Roman Ingarden, Mieczysław Porębski - whose inspirational potential and intellectual and artistic achievements are particularly important for the programme of our Collection. We organise exhibitions of these artists, prepare publications and educational projects related to them, and try to acquire their works to the Collection.


The MOCAK Collection – directions for development

In its development strategy for the Collection, the Museum focuses on several areas of special interest. In relation to Polish art, these are:

  • conceptualism - as a breakthrough that had a significant impact on the later artistic manifestations - is an important starting point for the Collection's development strategy. It is crucial that we continue to acquire works by the most important Polish artists related to this trend;
  • art created since the early 1990s, which is a spectacular combination of conceptual inspiration, critical art and postmodernism;
  • works of artists connected with Krakow, whose contribution to art is of a unique character. A key place in our Collection is taken by the artists associated with the Krakow Group. In addition to the works of classicists, we also supplement the Collection with works by young artists.

In shaping the MOCAK Collection, we also delve deeper into the past, into the origins of our understanding of art. The archival material that MOCAK keeps expanding is helpful in this respect.

As regards international art, the Museum’s selection concentrates mainly on:

  • works by artists from Central Europe and the former Eastern Bloc; we collect works mindful of the common cultural and political experiences of these countries as well as their under-representation in the collections of Western museums;
  • works by non-European artists - we are interested in works created at the boundaries of cultural zones, which make it possible to broaden the field of art and eliminate white spaces in the presentation of international contemporary art in Poland. These works offer a new perspective on the contemporary world and its problems, shown from the perspective of different cultures and traditions.


The process of the acquisition of works for the MOCAK Collection

Decisions on the acquisition of a work for the Collection are made by the Director of the Museum in consultation with the Programme Board of the Collection appointed by the Director's Order No. 19/2011 (its membership based on the Regulations No. 22/2011, 1/2013 and 7/2017). The Museum's activity including the creation of the Collection is overseen by the Museum Council appointed with the Order No. 2344/2014 by the Mayor of Krakow.

Proposals to obtain a work of art are made by Museum director, Museum employees, members of the Collection Programme Council, other natural and legal persons (including artists, galleries and other owners of works of art).

The decision to open negotiations shall be taken by the Director. The analysis of the work in terms of its artistic value in the context of the overall work of the artist and the resulting market price of the work is carried out by the Art Department, using the available data on market quotations. The negotiations are conducted, depending on their course and stage, by the Art Department, the Museum Director or other designated employees.

Proposals to acquire a work of art are put forward by the Museum director, Museum employees, members of the Collection Programme Council, and other natural and legal persons including artists, galleries and other owners of works of art.

The decision to open negotiations is taken by the Director. The analysis of the work in terms of its artistic value in the context of the overall body of work of the given artist and the resulting market price of the work is carried out by the Art Department, using the relevant market data available. The negotiations are conducted, depending on their course and stage, by the Art Department, the Museum Director or other designated employees.

Works for the MOCAK Collection are obtained on the basis of written agreements (donations, purchases). The agreement, prepared and checked by the Museum's legal counsel is structured in order to enable the Museum as far as possible to acquire the specific work together with the associated copyrights or licences.

The Museum may accept free of charge deposits of works that in a meaningful way complement the MOCAK Collection. However, works on deposit are not part of the MOCAK Collection.


Access to the Collection

MOCAK has adopted the principle that only works that are the property of the Museum will be shown as part of an exhibition of the Collection. In cases when it is necessary to emphasise the meaning of a specific work by juxtaposition with another work, we find it helpful to employ a work made available to us on loan or deposit, and enquire about the terms of purchase.

Another rule is related to the cyclical nature of our exhibitions. We change the arrangement of the Collection annually, combining the new exhibition with different issues. New works constitute at least half of each new edition. Such rotation is quite unusual in museum practice. The vast majority of museums do not change their collection exhibitions for years. At MOCAK, such rotation results from the desire to create a life around the works, to activate their different interpretations depending on the context in which they are located, and to initiate a dialogue between them. Some of the works from the previous exhibitions remain in situ, because their installation is complicated or the exhibit is site-specific, and designed for a given place in collaboration with the author.

The Collection has also been presented at MOCAK as part of temporary exhibitions. Moreover it is shown in locations other than the Museum, including in Lviv, Rome and Vilnius. As part of the exhibition programme, we organise monographic exhibitions based on works from the Collection. The exhibits are also made available on loan for exhibitions organised by other institutions.