The Sukiennice building houses one of the largest permanent exhibitions of 19th-century Polish painting and sculpture in Poland.
In the mid-fourteenth century, on the site of medieval stalls located in the middle of the Main Market Square, a Gothic hall was erected and then rebuilt in the sixteenth century in the Renaissance style. At the end of the eighteenth century, in addition to its existing purely practical functions related to warehousing and commerce, the Sukiennice gained symbolic significance. The balls and receptions held there in honour of prominent personas visiting the city, and celebrations of numerous patriotic events meant that this building, located in the very centre of Krakow, became a truly important place for the national culture. The present shape and unique representative function of the Sukiennice were gained after its restoration, which was carried out in the years 1877-1879.
In 1879, the rooms on the first floor of the Sukiennice building were chosen as the seat of the newly established National Museum. Its collection was initiated by Henryk Siemiradzki, who offered his painting Nero's Torches to the new institution. The exhibition in the Sukiennice, comprising four rooms – The Bacciarelli Room. The Enlightement, The Michałowski Room. Romanticism. Towards National Art, The Siemiradzki Room. Around the Academy and The Chełmoński Room. Realism, Polish Impressionism, Beginnings of Symbolism – offers a historic and substantive context of the works of art gathered in the National Museum in Krakow, though it does not pretend to present the entirety of artistic phenomena occurring between mid-eighteenth and late nineteenth century.