Foreign Language Centre
Museum of Icons in Supraśl
The Icon Museum has about 1,200 works in its collection – one of the richest collections of its kind in Poland. It was established in 2007 on the grounds of a male Orthodox monastery in Suprasl, near Bialystok.
Most of the icons are from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, and what adds to the flavor is the fact that a significant number of them were taken by customs officials from smugglers from the East. Here you will see icons with Jesus Pantocrator and Our Lady of the Three Hands, smaller paintings, traveling crosses and other religious objects. But there are also unique 16th-century frescoes to be seen here remnants from a monastery church blown up by the Germans during World War II.
The exhibition is housed in nine halls reminiscent of the interior of a hermit’s cavern and of the catacombs, the secret refuges of the early Christians in the mountains of Cappadocia (central Turkey). The interiors, filled with works of sacred art, along with an interesting sound setting and thoughtful use of light and shadow, put visitors in a contemplative mood, while the guides interestingly explain the role of icons in Orthodoxy.
The Suprasl Monastery is one of five Orthodox male monasteries in Poland. Its history is more than 500 years old. However, after World War II it was transformed and housed an agricultural school. It was not until the 1980s that the monastery grounds and facilities were returned to the Orthodox Church.
The museum also offers lessons in icon writing, which many visitors sign up for.
photos courtesy of Assoc. Prof. Marta Kosior-Kazberuk, DSc, PhD, Eng
photos by Alina Jabłońska Domurat & Magda Opacka