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Krosno, ul. PiLsudskiego 16

The History of Lighting

The Lighting History Department has been in operation since 1977. It originates from the Petroleum Department, which was established with the establishment of the Museum in Krosno. First, there were collected paraffin lamps and memorabilia connected with the work of Ignacy Łukasiewicz (1822-1882) in the Krosno region. 

With time in the collection appeared exhibits from other types of lightning existing over the centuries. At the end of 2013, the department had 2779 museum objects in its collection, including 1630 exhibits and 1149 archives.

Among the exhibits dominate the paraffin lamps.

We have the largest and the most glamorous collection of paraffin lamps in Europe. Their visage is different from the first paraffin lamp created in 1853 on the initiative of Ignacy Łukasiewicz (a copy of the prototype made according to historical documents is presented at the exhibition). The lamps collected in the museum were made in the years 1860-1950 in numerous global factories: Austrian, German, Hungarian, French, English, American and Polish. They represent the successive stages in the development of paraffin lighting, from the contemporary model of the first paraffin lamp to the various objects used for lighting residential, public and industrial interiors.

The museum collected about 900 exhibits connected with the paraffin lighting including 625 complete lights. The most popular in the collection is the mensal paraffin lamp, named portable too. The exposits reflect the styles from the period of the greatest popularity of paraffin lamps (1860-1920). The lamps produced in the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries are the most glamorous. They distinguish themselves from the diversity of shapes, colours and materials and decorative techniques. Especially displayable are the lounge lamps and columnar with richly decorated bodies, made of precious materials, topped with glass shades of tulip shape made colourless and colourful glass.

The majority of the archival materials in this section are related to the oil industry from the Subcarpathian region. The most valuable are those connected with Ignacy Łukasiewicz.

The exhibition is located in six exhibition halls with a total area of 201 m². The most popular light sources used by people over the centuries are presented in the chronological way here – from bonfires to archers, candles, olive and oil lamps, gas, paraffin and electric lamps. The heart of the exhibition is a collection of paraffin lamps. Most of the monuments are displayed in large showcases, adapted in shape to the historic interiors with barrel vaults with lunettes. The exhibition is enriched by fragments of residential interiors from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The separate group consists of lamps and lanterns with technical applications. To achieve the light not only from the paraffin it was necessary to use: light or natural gas, petrol, spirit, acetylene. They were used to illuminate factory premises, streets, horse and motor vehicles, platforms and railway carriages. The fires and cookers i.e. heating appliances are in this group of the collection too.

Candle lighting is represented in the collection by various candlesticks and lanterns from the 17th century to the 1st half of the 20th century. The collection numbers 370 exhibits. The oldest among them is the churchly candlesticks with a spike, made of pewter, wood, bronze and brass. The diversity of forms we can perceive in the candlesticks and candelabras for domestic use, coming from goldsmiths’ centres of Austria, Germany and the Duchy of Warsaw. Hanukkah lights and candle holders that are used by Jews during religious ceremonies are original because of their shape and purpose.


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