“The Royal Bestiary: Wilkoń at Wawel”

The exhibition “The Royal Bestiary: Wilkoń at Wawel” presents the rich and multifaceted work of Józef Wilkoń, the beloved illustrator, especially of children’s literature, painter, and sculptor. This is the world-renowned artist’s first exhibition at Wawel Royal Castle.
Presented in three Wawel venues – the magnificent Renaissance Royal Gardens at Wawel Royal Castle; in the garden of at Pieskowa Skała Castle, perched on a cliff in Ojców National Park; and in the late 16th-century Manor House in Stryszów – the exhibition comprises a total of 52 sculptures and 42 works on paper. The outdoor locations are not only the perfect setting for the whimsical sculptures of the nature-loving artist, but also present an ideal opportunity to discover the region’s cultural heritage.
Curated primarily with our youngest visitors in mind, the exhibition is sure to delight children and adults alike. The admission ticket encompasses all three locations and includes a contest with special awards (details below).

Wawel Royal Castle

The division of the exhibition among three venues is intentional. Presenting the animal sculptures in the Royal Gardens at Wawel Castle makes reference to both the living royal menagerie of the last Jagiellonian kings and the animals woven on the tapestries in the collection of Sigismund II Augustus. Exotic animals such as lions, panthers, and crocodiles, as well more familiar wild boars and a moose prowl among the greenery. The introduction of contemporary sculptures into the historic spaces of Wawel Royal Castle speaks to the correspondence between the arts, and opens a dialogue between the old and new, the past and present.

Pieskowa Skała Castle

Józef Wilkoń’s most recent sculptural creations are presented in the garden at Pieskowa Skała Castle. There, figures of animals and people emerge from hornbeam logs. This part of the exhibition reveals the artist’s exceptional bond with nature, from which he draws endless inspiration. Among the sculptures displayed here are bats, the symbol of Ojców National Park, where the castle is located.

The Manor House at Stryszów

The exhibition at the manor includes sculptures of Polish noblemen that Wilkoń created especially for the Wawel exhibition. They are exhibited in their “natural setting” – a former residence of the gentry. Wikoń’s earliest works on paper are illustrations inspired by his bucolic childhood in Bogucice, the small village in the Małopolska countryside where he was born and raised.

Józef Wilkoń

Józef Wilkoń (b. Feb. 12, 1930) is a celebrated Polish illustrator, painter, sculptor, poster artist, and set designer. He has illustrated over 200 books for children and adults published in Poland and abroad, and is also the author of more than a dozen children’s books.

His work has been shown in well over 100 exhibitions in galleries and museums throughout Europe and Asia, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris (1989), the Zachęta – National Gallery of Art in Warsaw (2006), the Albus Gallery in  Seoul (2017), and the Chihiro Art Museum Azumino (2019) in Japan, among many others. Wilkoń’s works are found in private and public collections on five continents including such museums as the Musée de l’Illustration Jeunesse in Moulins, France, the Adam Mickiewicz Museum of Literature and the National Library in Warsaw, and in Japan in the Museum of Picture Books in Oshima, and the Chihiro Art Museum in Azumino.

The artist’s most recent major projects include illustrations for Polish editions of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book (Księga dżungli, 2009) and Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote (Don Kichote, 2016), and Pan Tadeusz (2015). The children’s book Psie życie [A Dog’s Life], written and illustrated by Józef Wilkoń, was touted “The Most Beautiful Book of 2011” by the Polskie Towarzystwo Wydawców Książek [Polish Association of Book Publishers] and was awarded the bronze medal at the 50th anniversary Best Book Design from all over the World competition in Leipzig.


Contest Rules
  1. The contest is organized by Wawel Royal Castle.
  2. Individuals and families that have visited the exhibition The Royal Bestiary: Wilkoń at Wawel in all three locations (Wawel Royal Castle: Royal Gardens; Pieskowa Skała Castle: Gardens; Manor House at Stryszów) are eligible to participate in the contest.
  3. The aim of the contest is twofold: to encourage visitors to get to know the art of Józef Wilkoń and to promote Wawel Castle’s Branch museums.
  4. How to enter:
    Contest participants are obligated to:
    a. purchase a ticket for the exhibition The Royal Bestiary: Wilkoń at Wawel (all three locations are included in ticket price);
    b. visit the exhibition in all three location (Wawel Royal Castle: Royal Gardens; Pieskowa Skała Castle: Gardens; Manor House at Stryszów) between June 11, 2021 and September 5, 2021;
    c. answer the contest question provided on the ticket.
  5. One contest entry per ticket.
  6. Submit contest entry using the form on the Exhibition website.
  7. Each contest entry (individual or family) must be submitted separately using the contest form.
  8. Contest entry must be accompanied by photographs of both sides of the exhibition admission ticket.
  9. By submitting a contest entry, participants agree to abide by the present contest rules.
  10. Entry period:
    a. contest entries (individual or family) must me sent in by the last day of each month (June 30; July 31; August 31; September 30, 2021) by filling out the contest entry form on the Exhibition website;
    b. winners will be announced on the 15th of the following month (July 15; August 15; September 15; October 15, 2021) on the Contest web page and winners will be notified via e-mail.
  11. Contest entry must include the following:
    a. first and last name of entrant or, if entering as a family, the first and last name of one family member
    b. age of participant
    c. e-mail address
    d. names of the other family members and their ages (when entering as a family and submitting a family ticket)
    e. contact telephone number
    f. contest question answer
  12. Prizes: 
    Prizes will be awarded to the first 5 correct entries received each month. (Five prizes will be awarded each month.)
    Prizes: souvenirs and a book published by Wawel Royal Castle.
  13. Winners will be selected by the organizers of the exhibition at Wawel Royal Castle.
  14. Criteria:
    a. correct answer to contest question
    b. contest entry submission time
  15. Contest organizer contact: Kama Guzik, kguzik@wawelzamek.pl
  16. Detailed GDPR information is available on the contest organizer’s website: https://wawel.krakow.pl/en/gdpr
Exhibition Organizers: The Ministry of Culture, National Heritage, and Sport; Wawel Royal Castle; and Fundacja Arka im. Józefa Wilkonia

Honorary Patron: Iwona Gibas, Member of the Board of the Małopolska Voivodship

Exhibition Partners: Fundacja Czas Dzieci, Instytut Książki

Exhibition Curators: Kama Guzik, Bogumiła Wiśniewska

Exhibition Partners

Media Patrons