Copernicus House
21.09.2017 Administrator

 Ladies and Gentlemen,


Please, be informed that from September 2017 to June 2018 the Nicholas Copernicus House is closed for renovation works.


We apologise for the inconvenience caused and are looking forward to seeing you back in June 2018!

There is no doubt that Nicolaus Copernicus was born in Toruń !! It is much harder to determine exactly in which house because rich family Copernicus, related to the most important patrician families in the town, owned then several properties including the tenement house in St Anna Street (now 15 Kopernika Street ) and in the most prestigious part of the town, at 36 Old Town Square ( in the neibourhood of the Under the Star House ). In the second described house which was rebuilt many times and demolished by fires, has not preserved any elements of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. However, the first of the tenement houses - as so-called store-house characteristic of Hanseatic cities – has survived since the Middle Ages in a little altered state. Its walls, the construction and the decoration reflect the history of the town and its residents, trade and artistic contacts of Toruń and changes in mentality, tastes and way of life of Toruń. The original interior and furnishing allow you to move into the era of Copernicus and explore the daily life of a rich burghers’ family. Gorgeous, richly ornamented front elevation comes from the twenties of fifteenth century. By the end of the fifteenth century there were a perron in front of the tenement house , traces of which we can observe on the south wall of the basement. During the restoration works carried out at the end of 1972, some nineteenth -century partition walls were demolished and restored the building to its original layout. This allowed not only expose the preserved design of particular interior, but also allow to show their original function. In the past, the house belonged to the Cracow merchant, Nicolaus Copernicus, who came to Toruń about 1456 and here he married to Barbara Watzenrode belonging to the patrician family, thus entering the elite of our town.

Through Gothic portal we can enter the Great Hall which fulfilled both commercial and residential functions. Original elements of construction and equipment, including the ceiling from the first half of the fifteenth century covered with the modern polychrome and the kitchenette counter have preserved to this day. It was possible to go down from the great hall to the basement, to go out in the corridor to the courtyard and to go on the stairs to the rooms on the upper floors. The small gallery was built at the end of the sixteenth century along the south wall. On its underside, an original polychrome from this period preserved. The great hall took on a representative character. Commercial transactions were dealt with in here. Two small rooms were built on the western side. Lower one served as a space for the kitchen. In the eighteenth century, the ceiling, the external walls of overhanging inner room and the staircase’s railing were covered with polychrome.

A burgher’s family life was concentrated in the room behind the great hall. Not only the ceiling decorated with eighteenth -century polychrome, but also richly ornamented Gothic wardrobe from the second half of the fifteenth century and other furniture from this period: stools (called zydle) and special chairs (called krzesła nożycowe) attract the attention in the room. From the windows of the room you can see the yard of the tenement house surrounded by a medieval wall, one of the few remaining in Toruń and the adjacent outhouses. There is a model of Toruń from about 1500 in one of them. The model is accompanied by light - sound show depicting the most important events in the history of Toruń, pearls of Gothic architecture and spatial arrangement of the second half of the fifteenth century, as well as places associated with Copernicus and his family.

Scientist’s Studio in the right upper little room of the tenement house, interior with a characteristic so-called pear chimney, also refers to a figure of Copernicus. On the table in the workshop, there are books with astronomical charts and a reprint of the manuscript of " De revolutionibus ... ", works of Toruń astronomer. In the right corner, there is a globe of William Bleau with seventeenth -century map of the world and the seventeenth - century painting " Scholar in the studio ", attributed to Monogrammist IS – the artist whose work was influenced by the young Rembrandt and Gerard Dou was hung here. On the left side of the sixteenth -century cabinet - decorated with interesting woodcarving with the scene of the Last Supper- an optical microscope from the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries was placed, one of the first such devices.

The living room with a white ceiling. Due to changes in the function of great hall, a family life moved into the room in the second passage and into the first floor of the back passage - into so-called common room which was slightly lower room and therefore the warmer one. The outcrop of polychrome depicting grapevine and the inside of the fireplace come from the 16th century. On the southern wall, next to the door to the offices, there is not high semicircular vaulted niche, walled up in the 16th century (?) which in the past was an exit to the exterior staircase (a way out to go down to the courtyard). The room was completely modernized in the 18th century. The walls were covered with neoclassical polychromes, the former ceiling painted over with white paint (?) - hence the name that identifies this room. The living room was equipped with furniture from the period, the walls were decorated with eighteenth -century portraits. In the etagere there are the seventeenth and eighteenth -century old prints, astronomical and mathematical instruments, among them a compass of Johannes Hevelius from 1638.


The tenement house no 17

The exhibition " Nicolaus Copernicus - the life and work "

The exhibition presents the home and family circle, years of education, the activities of Copernicus in Frombork, Olsztyn and Lidzbark, finally astronomical studies culminating in the formulation of the heliocentric theory.

The first part of the exhibition was devoted to the fifteenth century Toruń and astronomer’s family. The most famous Toruń citizen was born on 19 February 1473 as the fourth and the youngest child of a wealthy merchant and councilor of the Old Town of Toruń, Nicolaus Copernicus, and Barbara of Watzenrode family. Mother's brother- Łukasz came to the high dignity in the church hierarchy and the country – he was the bishop of Warmia and sat in the Senate of the Polish Kingdom. After the death of Nicholas Copernicus the senior in 1483, he took over the care of orphaned nephews Andrew and Nicholas and provided them with the appropriate financial position and education, first in the parish school in St. Johns Church, then at Cracow University which was to prepare them for a career in the Church.

The second part of the exhibition presents Nicolaus Copernicus’ years of education, first at the Academy of Cracow (1491-1495) and then in Bologna (1496-1500) , Padua (1501 - 1503) and Ferrara, where in 1503 he received his doctorate in canon law. The future astronomer studied at the Faculty of Liberal Arts at the Jagiellonian University probably according to already reformed program including : theology, law, medicine, philosophy, mathematics and astronomy. Knowledge in these areas also expanded in Italy, preparing for the administrative duties of the Warmia Chapter’s canon.

The third part exhibition depicts the birth of a new concept of the universe, the origins of " De revolutionibus orbium Celestium " and the fate of the manuscript and subsequent editions of the work. Nicolaus Copernicus after returning to the country in 1503 settled in Lidzbark and became the personal secretary to the bishop and a doctor of Łukasz Watzenrod. During this time he developed the first draft of a new theory of the world structure, contained in the so-called "Komentarzyku" ( Commentariolus ). The work in the form of copies of the manuscript has been disseminated among connoisseurs of the problem, gaining fame and recognition. After 1510, Copernicus moved to Frombork. Despite lots of administrative work he found time to study, collected the necessary instruments and books’ collection and prepared a place for astronomical observations. Probably about 1530, he completed his work "De revolutionibus". He was afraid of the reaction of the church hierarchy so he delayed his print. Georg Joachim de Toris -Rheticus persuaded him to publish the work until the end of the thirties and took the manuscript to Nuremberg. " De revolutionibus " appeared in print in 1543 with a foreword presenting the Copernican theory as a hypothesis convenient to perform mathematical calculations. The legend says that the sick and paralyzed astronomer saw his work before his death, which was on May 24, 1543.

The fourth section of the exhibition documents comprehensive activities of Nicolaus Copernicus - an inspector, a chancellor of the Chapter, a doctor, an administrator of the Chapter and the Commissioner of Warmia. Copernicus as a secretary of the Bishop of Warmia and later a clerk of the Warmia Chapter took an active part in the political life of Royal Prussia. During the war with the Teutonic Knights in 1520 he organized the defense of the castle in Olsztyn. He also prepared a project of monetary reform in Prussia which he concluded in several of his works: " Meditations ", "How to mint coins " and " About respect of a coin ". He was the first who formulated the law of displacement better money for worse, with less content of ore. As an administrator of properties, he analyzed prices of grain and bread in the Warmia and developed the so-called " local fee for bread in Olsztyn " in 1531.

The models of astronomical instruments, which used the Nicolaus Copernicus: an astrolabe, a triquetrum and a quadrant were placed in the attic of the tenement house.

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