Poland - Libraries and museums

The National Library, established in Warsaw in 1928, is the second-largest in Poland, with about 2.8 million volumes, including periodicals, manuscripts, maps, illustrations, and music. Other important libraries are the Public University and the government departmental libraries in Warsaw; Poland's largest library, the Jagiellonian University Library in Cracow, which has3.5 million volumes; and the Ossolineum Library in Wroclaw. In 1997 there were 9,230 public libraries, jointly holding almost 135 million volumes. Lax security at Poland's libraries poses a challenge to the preservation of rare documents: in 1998, a scientific library in Cracow reported the theft of a rare book by Nicholas Copernicus, and in 1999, the Jagiellonian University Library reported the theft of an indeterminate number of rare manuscripts.

Of the more than 500 museums in Poland, the foremost is the National Museum in Warsaw, which has an extensive and important art collection as well as a collection of Polish art from the 12th century to present day. Other important museums are the National Museum in Cracow, notable for its collection of Far Eastern Art, and the National Museum in Poznan ´, which has a celebrated collection of musical instruments. Cracow also has an important collection of European decorative arts at the Wawel Royal Castle, housed in a 16th century manor house, and the Czartoryski Museum, a world-class collection of antiquities and contemporary artifacts including 35,000 prints, drawings, and paintings. Warsaw has dozens of museums, including the Center for Contemporary Art, founded in 1986, in Ujazdowski Castle; the Museum of Independence, founded in 1990, chronicling Poland's pivotal role in the collapse of the Soviet Empire; the Museum of Polish Emigration to America; the Frederick Chopin Museum, chronicling the life of one of the country's best-known composers; the Marie Curie Museum, housed at her birthplace; and the Museum of the Jewish Historical Institute.

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