Samuel Butler (1835–1902), an English writer and thinker, once said: "An art can only be learned in the workshop of those who are winning their bread by it." We do not know if the hero of our exhibition knew those words of the author of article: Darwin among the Machines, but his professional and personal life proved that he was pretty familiar with the thought behind those words.
The exhibition titled In Praise of Books. Robert Jahoda – craftsman and artist, held in the Hipolit Family tenement house was dedicated to the bookbinding master, Robert Jahoda (1862–1947). He was one of the most outstanding Polish bookbinders. He ran his bookbinding workshop in Kraków for 60 years – between 1887 and his death in 1947.
The exhibition is a story about a wonderful man and his love for books. His passion, his willingness to learn and broaden his horizons, his pursuit of perfection of form and content in what he did – it all made him one of the most outstanding bookbinding Masters. He was known in both printing and bookbinding circles, not only in Poland but also abroad. Everyone in Kraków who loved reading books knew him. He was known by scholars, artists, researchers of the history of Kraków, and bibliophiles. Both secular and church institutions used his skills and experience. His clients included scholars, artists, aristocracy, gentry, industrialists, presidents, prime ministers and... crowned heads.
Robert Jahoda's Bookbinding Workshop, together with its employees and apprentices, guaranteed the highest quality of services. Jahoda was one of the first in Poland to found a workshop for the conservation of old bindings and prints, saving many valuable books and documents from being destroyed.
The time when Kraków is holding the title of UNESCO’s City of Literature is a great moment to show off our museum artefacts and introduce them to a wide audience. The Kraków Museum’s collection contains about four thousand exhibits related mostly to Robert Jahoda and his bookbinding workshop (from 1887–1947). Visitors should pay particular attention to the complex of nearly 700 designs of bindings of books, diplomas, and letter files made in 1892–1947 by recognized artists (J. Kossak, H. Uziembło, J. Bukowski, S. Fabijański, W. Tetmajer, J. Gumowski, H Starzyński, Z. Jahodzianka). About 60 of them are quite unique and were made in 1892–1912.
It is a biographical exhibition. It shows the professional career, as well as personal and family life of Robert Jahoda, which makes it a story about the city too. A story of people and institutions with whom the Master worked, collaborated, and shared his love for books. By showing his career path, we can watch his transformation from a craftsman into an artist that was well-known and respected in Kraków, in Poland, and abroad.