The Jagiellonian University Museum is in possession of a large sculpture collection, with more than a thousand objects, most of them being medieval sculptures from Lesser Poland and Silesia, as well as works of modern and contemporary artists. Among this collection one can find numerous busts of known and distinquished scholars and artists, including University professors, artists and politicians.
The sculpture collection of the Jagiellonian University traces its roots back to the 18th century, when its professors manage to salvage the Renaissance-age plate with an image of St. John Kanty and the 16th century bas-relief depicting the Virign and Child with St. Anne (attributed to Giovanni Maria Padovano). Presently, these works decorate the walls of St. John Kanty's Chapel in Collegium Maius.
In 1829 the Senate of the Free City of Cracow adopted an act making Collegium Maius the new seat of the University Library. Following intensive restoration works, the interiors were adapted to the new function. When construction works were finished, two medieval foundation plates were moved to Collegium Maius from the demolished boarding houses, which hade been founded by Cardinal Zbigniew Oleśnicki (1453) and canon Jan Długosz (1471), together with the Renaissance plate from the house of Bishop Erazm Ciołek (1501).
In the mid-1860s, Professor Józef Łepkowski, a distinguished Polish archaeologist and historian, philosopher and social activist, began his work on creation of the Cabinet of Archaeology, which would later become the Cabinet of Art and Archaeology. In 1871 the University Senate donated rooms on the ground floor of Collegium Novum to the Cabinet. Decades later, in 1947, the former Cabinet of Archaeology became the Jagiellonian University Museum, existing up to present day.
Many exhibits which are in possession of the Museum now have been donated by private persons. The collection has grown significantly and today makes one of the most important parts of the Museum. The most recent donation is the marble sculpture named The lecturing Professor from ca. 1340. This year's edition of Museum calendar is one of the first presentations of this magnificent sculpture. The new exhibit comes from a set of funeral sculptures, depicting professors from the Bologna University, most of them currently kept in the Museo Civico Medievale di Bologna.
The medieval sculptures presented in the calendar were mostly made in Lesser Poland and Silesia. Readers will find a complete altar retable, single works, but also sculptures once forming a part of figure groups. Most of them were made on request and once decorated several temples.
Among the objects chosen for this publication, the special mention goes to the wooden sculpture presenting the founder of the Jagiellonian University, King Kasimir the Great, today considered to be one of the oldest Polish lay sculptures. This figure was made in 1380 and originally belonged to the collegiate church in Wiślica.
Ludmiła Bularz-Różycka, Rzeźba Średniowieczna w zbiorach Collegium Maius, Cracow 2006