Given that our merry band of travelers to Krakow was composed of two history doctoral candidates, one newly-minted history Ph.D. and an art history grad student, you won’t be surprised to learn that we took the tour of Collegium Maius, the Jagiellonian University museum.
Jagiellonian University was founded in 1364 by King Kazimierz the Great and is the third oldest university in Europe. Nicolaus Copernicus, famous for proposing that the earth orbited the sun rather than the other way around, studying at Jagiellonian University from 1491-1495.
The museum is located in the university’s oldest building, built in 1400. The building housed the original library, faculty dining rooms and living quarters, and lecture hall. On display is a small globe that is the oldest surviving globe to show the Americas. A large reproduction allows one to see that South America is basically the correct shape in the correct place, but North America is represented as a set of islands in the ocean between South America and China.
Our favorite piece, however, was the reading wheel – a wooden frame designed to hold six open books. The reader can have six books available at the same time and simply turn the wheel to whichever book he or she wants to read at the moment. Now that is a useful invention for an academic!