The history of the museum in Łowicz begins at the turn of the 19th -20th centuries. It is connected with two names: Władysław Tarczyński - a collector and social activist, and Aniela Chmielińska - an educator and publicist.
Władysław Tarczyński's collection entitled "The Museum of Antiquity and Historic Mementoes" received its own statute in 1907. This institution - as a museum - existed until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. It collected exhibits connected with the history of Łowicz and its region. There were about 3200 exhibits including a library.
At the same time a branch of Polish Tourist Society acted in Łowicz. Its founder was Aniela Chmielińska. She collected ethnographic exhibits - artefacts produced by inhabitants of nearby villages. In 1910 she founded "The Museum of Łowicz Region".
"The Museum of Antiquity" was opened again in 1927 as "The Town Museum of W. Tarczyński". Emil Balcer - a fire brigade activist - was its supervisor. This institution existed until the beginning of the Second World War.
The collections of both museums were taken over by The National Museum in Warsaw in 1948. Its branch was opened in Łowicz (its activity ended on 01.04.1995). The whole collection was transferred to a post-missionary building founded by Primate Michał Radziejowski (the 17th century).
The present exhibition consists of the three following departments: "The Baroque Art in Poland", "The History of Łowicz and Its Region", "The Folklore of Łowicz Principality".
THE BAROQUE ART IN POLAND
This exposition is in the original chapel of Saint Karol Boromeusz - the patron of missionaries. The chapel was part of the seminar coming from the turn of the 17th -18th centuries. Its designer was Tylman von Gameren, famous architect who also designed many other buildings in Poland. Famous Italian painter Miechelangelo Palloni (the second half of the 17th century) richly decorated the chapel's vault with illusionist frescoes. These pictures show the life of Saint Karol Boromeusz's. The interior is also decorated by stucco work.
There are examples of paintings, sculptures as well as sacral and secular artefacts of handicraft in baroque style. Among them are ceramics made from faience and china of famous European manufactures (Sevres, Delft, and Vienna), Polish and foreign glasses, Polish decorative fabrics (for example decorative noble belts). Also furniture such as wardrobes from Gdańsk, Germany and in Dutch style are noteworthy.
The oldest exhibits come from W. Tarczyński's archaeological collection. Artefacts from present excavations are also to be found here. These exhibits (ceramics, glass, arms, and jewellery) represent all epochs and cultures of human evolution.
The most interesting exhibits at the exposition are: the coffin portraits of Łowicz bourgeois from the 17th and 18th centuries, the collection of craftsmen stamps from Łowicz, handicrafts and utilitarian dishes, weapons coming from the 16th century to the Second World War. So called "black jewellery" worn by civilians during the national captivity in 19th century, is quite unique thing in the museum. There are also exhibits connected with people and events from the national insurrections in the 19th century.
The next part of this exposition constitutes the history of Łowicz fire brigade (established in 1879), (photographs, medals, flags) as well as other things from the Second World War (uniforms, personal documents, weapons).
Besides historical department collects numizmats, engraving and painting (for example pictures of Stanisław Noakowski, Władysław Dargiewicz, Zdzisław P±gowski, Zofia Mitrężanka). Among them is a landscape painted by Józef Chełmoński and a drawing by Stanisław Wyspiański. They are both famous Polish painters.
It presents exhibits coming from Łowicz Principality's area. The oldest parts of it comprise fabrics, women's and men's clothes, single elements of dresses. They show the evolution in the regional costumes from the 19th century until these days.
The exposition is completed by the elements of the house interiors such as cut outs - decorations made from colour paper. There are three groups of them: circular "gwiozdy", vertical stripes "tasiemki" with floral decoration, and "kodry" - oblong belts, quite often with scenes from weddings or everyday life. Other decorations used at that time were paper or wool "spiders" - hung in the middle of the ceiling as well as paper flowers and many holy pictures.
On display there are also everyday furniture like benches, cupboards with pottery, painted wooden chests for storing clothes. The collection of folk pottery deserves special attention. Łowicz region is represented by two families from Bolimów: The Konopczyński's and The Smela's. Agriculture tools, weaver's workshops and other objects to make fabric, but also folk sculptures (for example small roadside chapels) complete the exposition.
The arranged interior of the village house from the 19th and 20th centuries occupies a special place at the exhibition.
Next to the museum building there is an open-air museum, consisting of two wooden houses: one coming from the 18th century and the other "closed farm" - "okólnik" from the middle of the 19th century.
THE OPEN-AIR MUSEUM IN MAURZYCE
This museum belongs to the Museum in Łowicz and it is about 7 kilometres from the town. On the 17-hectare area are gathered architecture objects dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries. They symbolise characteristic types of Łowicz Principality's villages. Living and household buildings are equipped with furniture, tools, etc. There is a forge, an inn and roadside chapels, too.
HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS DEPARTMENT
It collects registries and documents concerning the history of the town, its region and the country. To the most interesting things in this department belong: the documents of the W. Tarczyński family (photographs, letters), materials of "The Museum of Antiquity", "The Town Museum", the history of fire brigade in Łowicz and events from the beginning of the 20th century up to now.
The library is part of the museum collection. The oldest books date from the 16th century. The library also contains books and periodical from W. Tarczyński's, Emil Balcer's, Romuald Oczykowski's (a historian and publicist) collections, Polish Museum in Rapersvil.
Museum in Łowicz organises periodic exhibitions on different subjects ranging from ethnography, archaeology, history and fine arts.