The Museum of the Krkonose Mountains in Jilemnice was founded in 1891. The first exhibitions were displayed in the town hall. After that the museum changed location several times – from the town hall to the local school, vicarage, and other locations. Since 1953 it has resided in the castle compound. Administration of the museum was transferred from the municipality to the Krkonoše National Park in 1979. It has operated in cooperation with both organizations since 2013.
The museum focuses on the history and etnography of the western part of the Krkonoše mountains and its presentation to the public. There are unique exhibits covering diverse aspects of the Krkonoše region, e.g., historical and ethnographical exhibits, an exhibit on Count Jan Harrach, a ski exhibit dating back to 1938, an archaelogical exhibit of the Gothic church of Saint Elisabeth, a gardening exhibit, and the gallery of painter František Kaván. The museum organizes an extensive number of exhibits, lectures, and other events.
The museum is conveniently located in the castle compound in the center of Jilemnice comprising the castle itself, an old brewery, and a garden house. The compound has a long and rich history dating back from the Middle Ages to the present.
he oldest building is the Saint Elisabeth church founded in the second half of the 13th century. There was probably a stronghold there owned by the Valdštejn family. The stronghold was first mentioned in 1492. In the beginning of the 16th century, masters from Újezdec a Kúnice became its owners, followed by Křinečtís from Ronov. The Křinečtís rebuilt the stronghold into a Renaissance castle in the second half of the 16th century. The dominion was bought in 1637 the Harants from Polžice and Bezdružice, who made some improvements in the park and the castle. In 1701 the dominion was bought by the Harrachs, who built a baroque brewery and a granary during the first half of the 18th century. In 1788 the Harrachs built a garden house where the burnt down Gothic church of Saint Elisabeth used to stand and they bulit an officers’ building in the first half of the 19th century. Later they rebuilt the castle, revitalized the park, and built a new brewery building. The compound was confiscated in 1945 and the town of Jilemnice became the owner. Nowadays, there are the museum, library, apartments and storages there.
There are collections of thousands of items ranging from history, ethnography, and history of skiing, to art and photography in the museum. There is also an archive and a specialized library there.
The most famous objects are Jáchym Metelka´s Mechanical Nativity scene from 1883-1913, a unique guild sign of arts and crafts in Jilemnice from the first half of the 19th century, the finest linen fiber (978 feet of it weigh only 0.03 ounce) and the oldest ski in the Krkonoše mountains.
Artefacts from people connected with the Krkonoše region can be found in the museum. This includes the work of writers Jaroslav Havlíček and Jan Weiss, the singer and actor Jiří Šlitr, the painter František Kaván, and the count Jan Harrach, the latter being the owner of the dominion, who brought local glassworks and forestry to prosperity, built infrastructure, supported tourism, and brought one of the first set of skis to the Krkonoše mountains. He also founded the first natural reservation in the Krkonoše mountains.
Today Krkonoše Mountains National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the world. Its museum represents the best place for the visitors´ journey of discovery and adventure to begin.