The Black House, ( Czarna Kamienica, Чорна кам’яниця), is a remarkable Renaissance building on the Market Square in the city of Lviv, Ukraine. It was built for Italian tax-collector Tomaso Alberti in 1577. The architect was probably Piotr Krasowski. The Lviv Historical Museum has been housed in the Black House since 1926.
The façade is lined with sandstone which has darkened over the years to blackish brown. The front exhibits some fine decorative ornamentation. Jan Lorencowicz, having acquired the house in 1596, added another storey and opened one of the town’s first pharmacies on the ground floor. The uppermost storey was added in 1884.
Lviv Historical Museum is one of the oldest and the richest museums in Ukraine, established in 1893.
The second date of its birth is considered to be 1940, when the Historical Museum of Lviv and the National Museum named after King Jan III in Lviv (established in 1908), situated next to each other were united into a single institution – Lviv Historical Museum (LHM). The collection of newly formed museum included separate collections of former Lviv museums, in particular Museum of the Princes Lubomirski, Museum of Shevchenko Scientific Society, Museum of Stauropegial Institute.
Today LHM collections number more than 370 thousand museum exhibits. These are archaeological materials, paintings, sculptures, drawings, archival documents, manuscripts, early printed books, metal, leather, wood, glass and porcelain, furniture, clocks, orders, musical instruments, photographs and photo negatives, guns and the artifacts of Numismatics, Faleristics, Sigillography and others. Museum exhibits are the witnesses of the past; they retell the stories about important events in the history of our land, the way of life of Lviv and Galicia citizens from ancient times to the 20th century (the departments of Archeology and Ancient History, Rynok Sq., 24, Department of Western Ukraine History in the 2nd half of the 19th – 20th centuries, Rynok Sq., 4). Exhibition of the Royal Halls in the Korniakt House, which used to be the residence of the King Jan III Sobieski in the 2nd half of the 17th century represents antique furniture, paintings, clocks; a separate set of the display is the coats of arms (department of Historical Treasures, Rynok Sq., 6). At the Museum-Arsenal the one can see rare examples of weapons and protective arms of the 12th and the 20th centuries from across Europe, Asia and Africa (department of Museum-Arsenal, Pidvalna St., 5). In 2005 the department of LHM “Museum of Historical Treasures” was opened (Rynok Sq., 2). Stationary exhibition “History of Western Ukraine XIX-early XXI century” located in the Black House (Rynok Sq., 4).
Department of Ukrainian Diaspora History exhibits the items related to social and cultural life of Ukrainians in foreign countries (Rynok Sq., 4).
Lviv Historical Museum is not only the monuments of antiquity, but it is the very atmosphere of the past, kept by the museum buildings, the pearls of Renaissance architecture in Lviv. An inside court-yard of the Korniakt House is a unique one, the only court-yard in Eastern Europe (1580, Arch. Pietro Barbon). The Italian court-yard, as it is called by Lviv citizens, is surrounded on perimeter by opened arcades-loggias on all three floors. Museum parties, literary and artistic events or just a rest with a cup of coffee in the comfortable outdoor court-yard leaves pleasant memories for a long time.
Besides the exhibitions mentioned above which are in the very center of Lviv, the Lviv Historical Museum has its departments outside city center. The interior and the atmosphere of literary and artistic salon reproduces the museum “Literary Lviv of 1st half of 20th century”, which is the branch of the main museum (Heroes of Maidan St., 18). The exposition of the Museum of liberation struggle of Ukraine located on Lysenko str., 23a, and tells about the struggle of Ukrainians for their own independent state in the XX century.Since independence, historical and memorial museums of UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) General Cornet Roman Shukhevych (Bilohorshcha St., 76a) and Colonel Yevhen Konovalets (vallage of Zashkiv, Zhovkva region) were opened.
Every year the museum visit approx 400 thousand people, Lviv residents and the visitors who are acquainted with its permanent displays and variable exhibitions, participate in various cultural events that are held at the museum.