From left: Princess Tamara Czartoryska, Prince Adam Czartoryski, Princess Josette Czartoryska: photo - PAP/Jacek Bednarczyk
Report by our Krakow correspondent Nick Hodge
The masterpiece recently returned from a tour of Madrid, Berlin and London, and will be on view at the castle until the Czartoryski Museum – Poland's oldest museum – emerges from an extensive refurbishment.
“I am exceptionally happy that I can open the exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci's Lady with an Ermine at Wawel Royal Castle today,” the prince announced.
“The exhibition has been made possible thanks to the hospitality of the Royal Castle, led by Professor Jan Ostrowski, as well as the cooperation of the Minister of Culture, Bogdan Zdrojewski."
The prince, who is head of the Czartoryski Foundation, was brought up in Spain, owing to the installation of a communist regime in Poland following World War II.
He recovered his family's museum in Krakow after the fall of the communist regime, winning a court case in 1991.
During the communist era, the museum had been run by the National Museum in Krakow, which has continued to co-administer the collection following the arrangement made in 1991.
However, conflicts surrounding international loans of the Leonardo painting, as well as problems in raising adequate funds for the renovation and extension of the museum, have proved damaging for the image of the Foundation.
Since the refurbishment of the museum began in January 2010, the prince has changed the managerial board of the Foundation on two occasions.
He emphasized on Tuesday that he wanted to dispel “the surreal rumours” about the supposed division of the Czartoryski collections.
“There is no other place for the Museum and Library of the Czartoryski Princes than in its historical setting in Krakow,” he said.
The prince added that he hoped to complete the refurbishment of the museum in 2013 or 2014.
Much of the funding to date has come from the Norway Grants scheme, and Prince Czartoryski revealed today that an application for a second grant was lodged yesterday in Warsaw.
Besides the Norway Grants programme, funding has also come from Poland's Ministry of Culture, the Public Committee for the Renovation of Krakow Monuments (SKOZK), and the Foundation of the Czartoryski Princes itself. (pg)