The ethnographic exhibition Folk Art of the Lublin Region is diverse due to the varied culture and folk art of the Lublin region, the area between the Vistula and the Bug rivers, inhabited by various ethnic groups, such as people of Lesser Poland, Podlasia, Międzyrzec Podlaski, Lasowiacy, Belarussians or Ukrainians, with their own tradition and religion. Differences in material and spiritual culture as well as the peripheral location of the Lublin region in relation to central Poland largely contributed to the fact that in the region all changes took place much slower than in other areas. Thus, traditional forms of culture and art characteristic of the community of villages and smaller towns were preserved to a fuller extent until the Second World War.
The pottery exhibits presented at the exhibition present the pottery traditions of guilds, which flourished in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries. At that time, more than one hundred centres produced utensils used for cooking, storing and consuming food, as well as children’s toys and small sculptures. The variety of sizes, shapes and decoration themes were typical for centres especially in Biała Podlaska, Baranów (Puławy poviat), Glinne (Łuków poviat), Krasnobród (Zamość poviat), Łążek Ordynacki (Janów Lubelski poviat), Pawłów (Chełm poviat), Putnowice (Hrubieszów poviat) and Urzędów (Kraśnik poviat).
Weaving is also characterised by a rich tradition and a wide range of weaves, colours and patterns. Throughout the region, traditional fabrics in stripes, lattice, interwoven, and so-called Persian carpets with geometrical patterns, and in the areas of Łuków and Biała Podlaska – double-sided carpets with two single layers of opposin two single layers of opposing colors g colors – were found as home furnishings. The presentation of the fabrics is completed with the display of tools used to process and prepare the fibre.
The weaving abilities of the inhabitants of various parts of the region and the influence of the neighbouring ethnographic areas (Lesser Poland, Masovia and with a mixed Polish-Ruthenian culture) contributed to the diversification of the folk costume and distinguishing of its several varieties. In the northern and western parts, the costumes showed a connection with Masovia and the neighbouring western Podlasia (Lubartów, Puławy, Łuków costumes). In the rest of the area with Polish settlement, they referred to the Lesser Poland outfit (Krzczonów and Biłgoraj costumes, clothes of wives of Tarnogród sieve-makers). In the eastern part of the Lublin region, inhabited by people of Ruthenian origin, the costumes were also not uniform – in the north-east (Podlasia costumes – the Bug River dress, Włodawa dress) they had many common features with those worn in Polesia, while in the southern part (Tomaszów-Hrubieszów costume) –especially in embroidery, the influence of Volhynia was clearly visible.
The feast of colours, fabrics and cuts, showing the richness of folk costumes, was especially visible during annual and family holidays, some of which could not happen without the company of music and singing. In the Lublin region, the strongest folk music-making traditions were present in the Biłgoraj, Zamość and Krasnystaw poviats, affecting the rest of the region. The instruments present in these areas were a conglomerate of features unique to the area of Poland. One could hear the sounds of: violin, hoop drum, dulcimer, ligawka and pipes, ocarina, harmony (also pedal one) and hurdy-gurdy, characteristic of the former eastern borderlands.
The paintings and sculptures from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries as well as by contemporary artists presented at the exhibition allow one to get to familiarise with the spiritual life of the inhabitants of the Lublin region. Religious paintings with representations of the Madonna, Christ and patron saints, brought from pilgrimage centres as copies of paintings famous for miracles, glass paintings or oil prints adorned numerous “sacred corners” in peasant cottages. Apart from them, after World War II, paintings on secular themes appeared: landscapes, flowers, genre scenes or tapestries, and the amateur work of self-born painters began to develop. Similarly, the sculpture clearly revealed the individuality of many artists. The collection of sculptures depicting Pensive or Crucified Christ, the Virgin Mary and saints, modelled after church, mostly anonymous 19th-century, figures, is distinguished by a high artistic level and great originality. In later author’s 20th-century works on secular themes, each of the artists emphasised their own style with an individual way of shaping characters and scenes (including biblical, rural, family and annual rituals) and rich polychrome.