The collection of Silesian sculptures, paintings and handcrafted items produced from the Gothic through to modern times covers artworks found, though not necessarily produced, in Upper Silesia. Most of them were made on order to adorn Silesian churches, mainly by workshops in Krakow, Wrocław and the Czech city of Prague, which attests to the region’s artistic connections with leading cultural centres of the time.
The Gallery of Silesian Religious Art comprises four designated zones, with over 120 exhibits constituting two stylistically distinct bodies of art: Late Gothic and Renaissance-Baroque, dating back to the period between the late 14th century and the late 18th century. Before the entrance to the gallery there are two images of St. Barbara, the patron saint of the Archdiocese of Katowice and miners. The exhibition is designed to present the original functions of former religious objects, now museum exhibits but still exuding a sacred aura.
The main axis of the exhibition symbolizes a church aisle concluded by an altar retabulum, with the adjacent areas alluding to side chapels. Gothic art (from the late 14th century to the early 16th century) is prevalent within this exhibition, and includes preserved paintings and sculptures mainly related to the Madonna, Christological and hagiographic pieces. These are complemented by handcrafted utensils and vestments.
The modern artworks on show (from the late 16th century through the late 18th century) are select pieces of individual fields of art (paintings, sculptures and handcrafted objects) that draw upon such European trends as humanism, Reformation and Counter-Reformation. The gallery combines the collections of Muzeum Śląskie and Muzeum Archidiecezyjne w Katowicach, from which a contribution was made in 2013 as part of a long-term deposit.