Fully renovated St. Mary’s Altar opened to public

After more than six years, the renovation of one of the most outstanding late-Gothic European works of sculptural art has ended, and the altar of Wit Stwosz (Veit Stoss) in St. Mary's Basilica in Kraków can already be admired in full splendour.

The research and conservation of one of the most outstanding works of late Gothic sculptural art in Europe began in autumn 2015. It was conducted by the Intercollegiate Institute of Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and Kraków. Teams of historians, physicists and chemists were also involved in the renovation works, to the completion of which a total of over 100 people contributed.

The restorers have returned to the colour solutions closest to the original concept of Wit Stwosz.

The altar of Wit Stwosz was built between 1477 and 1489. It was made of three types of wood; the structure is made of hard oak, the background is larch, and the figures are carved in soft and flexible linden wood. The altar is approximately 13 metres-high and 11 metres-wide.

One of the distinctive features of the altar is the realism of the figures placed on the work. Hands deformed by work, rheumatic diseases, balding skulls and veins visible under the skin draw the attention of spectators. The contemporary costumes, weapons, tools and household utensils of the town's inhabitants are also shown.

The research and conservation of the altar has cost around PLN 14 mln (EUR 3.15 mln).