The Gallery of 19th Century Art upholds the general principle that most European art institutions still abide by – to present the most important developments in art through the works of outstanding artists. Simultaneously, the stature of the National Museum obliges it to create and maintain a canon of art. With that in mind, the gallery’s mission should reflect a challenge to continually search for new ways to interpret and analyse artistic achievements of the 19th century. We were faced with the call to select pieces from a massive pool of works in our possession and we did so with a view to offering visitors an image of 19th century art that is pertinent to today’s audiences. An intensity of artistic issues, overlapping styles, and Poland’s unique historical experiences all complicated our challenge to arrange works in a way that would demonstrate not only the ties between Polish and European art, but also difficulties in accepting new directions, and a peculiar type of conservatism. All of this is worth remembering when touring the new exhibition in the Gallery of 19th Century Art – interpreting the creative message of artists and their works anew, in the here and now.