About the Museum
“The Wankowicz House. Culture and Art of the 1st half of the 19th century” Museum
Opening hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Ticket office and admission for visitors: 10 a.m. – 5:15 p.m.
Closed on Sundays and Mondays
33A Internatsionalnaya str., Minsk, 220030
Tel.: +375 17 327 88 78
The Head of the branch is Svetlana Yatsevich
In 2000 to the 200th Anniversary of the artist Walenty Wankowicz on former Volosskaya street of the Upper city "The Wankowiczes' House. Culture and Art of the first half of the 19th century" museum was opened in Minsk. The territory of the modern complex began to be occupied as far back as the end of the 16th c., but in the second half of the 17th c. there was built a stone house, cellars of which are at present can be found under the north part of building. Restoration and architectural and design decision is executed by the Specialized Scientific and Restoration Association "Belrestavratsiya" of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Belarus (authors I. Dorokhova and A. Kondratov), project of the exhibition - employees of the National Art Museum, to which "The Wankowiczes House" is affiliated. The authors of the project pursued certain purpose - to make this house, on the former Volosskaya Street, a center of musical and cultural life as it was in the 19th century, having restored the town homestead with two its main buildings - manor and manager's outhouse, where literary and art exhibitions and chamber music concerts would be held.
In 2016, a restoration of the economic building, where in the past were stables and couch-house (now the restaurant “Gray”) was completed. Thus, an architectural view of the old city manor house of szlachta was completely restored.
The first and second museum halls are devoted to the life and work of Wankowicz. Archival materials, photographs of the portraits, which he painted, as well as original paintings and objects of the applied art are displayed there. Using graphic materials and literature, the museum specialists managed to reconstruct the decoration of the Study and the Reception-Room. The picture gallery occupies three halls. Portraits are naturally integrated into the museum layout. They considerably enrich our knowledge of everyday life in the 18th - first half of the 19th century.
Walenty Wilgelm Wankowicz - is one of the few Belarusian artists, who not only left his mark on the culture of his Motherland, but also won popularity far beyond its borders.He was born on May, 12 (old style) 1800 on the country-estate of Kalyuzhitsy, Igumen Uyezd, Minsk Guberniya into a family of a hereditary Uyezd judge Melkhior Wankowicz and Scholastyka Goretska, sister of the poet Anton Goretsky, who was persecuted after the uprising of 1830. The Wankowiczes were related to many szlachta families of Belarus - the Ordas, the Korsaks, the Malewskis, the Mickiewiczes, the Moniuszkos, the Towianskis.
As many local young noblemen in the early 19th century, Wankowicz studied at the Polotsk Jesuits College (1811), at the Department of Liberal Sciences of the Polotsk Academy (1813-1817) and at the Department of Literature and Fine Arts of the Vilna University (1818-1824).Wankowicz copied pictures of old masters, portrayed relatives and University friends, who would become afterwards famous poets and statesmen - T. Zan, E. Romer, A. Odynets, Yu. Korsak, A. Mickiewicz, G. Kissling, F. Malewski, A. Towianski. By the decision of the Council he received a Vilna University scholarship for studies at the Petersburg Academy of Arts. Since February 3, 1825 Walenty was a student of the Academy of Arts. He won the Second Prize, and then the First Prize (the Silver Medal) for his drawings from real life. He got the Second Prize (the Golden Medal) and the right to work abroad on a grant for the competitive program "Heroic Deed of a Kievan in 988". But the University could not finance this trip. The year of 1828 brings fame to Wankowicz - at the Academy of Arts exhibition he showed the portrait of Adam Mickiewicz, which afterwards became very popular, by far outliving its creator.
In Petersburg Wankowicz became familiar with the Russian and Polish cultural circle. He paints portraits of the pianist M. Szimanowska, poets A. Pushkin, P. Vyazemsky, and V. Zhukovsky. Original prints "View of the Smolny Monastery in Petersburg" (1821-1823) by S. Galaktionov, "Sadovaya Street in Petersburg" (1820s) by K. Beggrov, W. Wankowicz's "Self Portrait" (copy by Polish painter Ryszard Primke, 1990), as well as chandeliers and a book-case of the early 19th century are displayed in this hall alongside with photographs and archival materials.
In February 1929 Wankowicz returns to his native town, Minsk. He has two ateliers - in Malaya Slepyanka and in Minsk, where he works with his friend Czeslaw Moniuszko, father of the famous composer Stanislaw Moniuszko. He painted portraits of his wife and children, his father, his sister Stanislawa Gornowska, Dominik Moniuszko, Anton Goretsky, Slonim marshal of the nobility Wojcech Puslowski and members of his family. On September, 21, the Academy of Arts conferred him on the title of the "Nominated" for the portraits "painted from life". In 1933 the Academy offered him to execute program for the rank of the Academician.
The complicated political situation after 1830 and and the desire to see the masterpieces of the great Renaissance artists impelled Wankowicz to leave Minsk in August of 1839. He lived in Berlin, Dresden, Munich, and on 15 September 1841 arrives in France and settles with the Mickiewiczes family. He fell ill but in spite of his illness he continued to work. He painted the picture "Apotheosis of Napoleon", icons "John the Evangelist" and "St. Clara", and portraits. The disease progressively grew worse, and on 12 May (old style) 1842, having dictated his will to his friend Adam, he died "after midday". The artist died at the peak of his work, having painted great number of portraits. Only few of them have survived in the museums and private collections in England, France, Italy, Poland, Lithuania, Russia, but none in his Homeland. Wankowicz was buried on May, 14 (old style) 1842 in Paris, in the Mont Martre cemetery Saint-Dennis.
In addition to photographs and archival materials, original paintings of the contemporary Wankowicz's artists are displayed in this hall: portraits of Alexander Moniuszko (1816) by Jan Rustem, Maria Mickiewicz? (1856) by Tadeusz Gorecki, Zinaida Divova (1841) by Ksawery Kaniewski; still-lives of the 1830s by Ivan Khrutsky; pictures "Palm Sunday" (1847) by Kanuty Rusetsky, "Paul I Sets Free Tadeusz Kosciuszko" (1820s) by Jan Damel; "Portrait of Adam Mickiewicz"- copy, 1990, by Polish painter Ryszard Primke of the famous Wankowicz's canvas of 1828, two prints - "Environs of Vilna. Snipishki" (from I.Khrutsky's chromolithography) and "Paris. Opera" from Ernest Lefebvre's etching - copies, 1990, by A.Kashkurevich; original chandelier and English clock (clock-work of the 18th c.).
The largest room in the homestead served as a reception room. The Wankowiczes and their friends were collecting objects of decorative and applied art, paintings of European and local artists, sculpture. Walnut furniture suit of the 1830s creates a cozy corner of the reception room. The mirror gives a larger sense of space. All the objects in the drawing room are works of art: inlaid work cupboard and small oval table, the nineteenth century lamp, marble sculptures: "Dante", executed by the early 19th century Italian sculptor and "Kiss of Cupid". This sculpture group is directly related to the decoration of the house, as it was found buried on the territory of the estate.
Gentry's estates, as well as magnate residences played a very important role in the development of Belarusian culture of the 18th and the first half of the 19th century. The estates, with their multi-volume libraries, large archives, amateur theatres, orchestras, family galleries, art galleries of the pictures by European and local artists played a role of cultural and educational centers while urban development was relatively poor. There were many such cultural centers in Belarus.