Okay, you're in Warsaw and you are probably wondering where to head next? Let me give you a quick tour around what most believe to be the 10 best museums in the capital of Poland.
1. Museum of the Warsaw Uprising - heart beating in the walls
Personally, I believe one of the most historically significant and heartbreaking museums of Warsaw. It was opened in 2004 by the initiative of late president Lech Kaczyński. It commemorates the people of Warsaw, who stood up against German Nazi oppression and started an Uprising on 1st August 1944. The museum is an emotional collection of photographs, artefacts and spoken records of Powstańcy (the members of the Uprising).
It is a highly interactive museum telling the story of heroism and resistance of people, who would “rather die standing than live on their knees”. Close your eyes and listen. Can you hear a heart beating among the walls? There’s a wall shooting through all floors and if you touch it you will feel a heart beating under your fingertips. It is not only the stories it carries, but also an interesting design behind the concept that will definitely catch your attention. To find out more and purchase your tickets join the Uprising.
Main gate leading of the Museum (photo: Klaudia Czerwińska)
The tower of the museum (there's a vieving spot on top!) with a sign "Polska Walcząca" ("Fighting Poland") (photo: Klaudia Czerwińska)
2. Copernicus Science Center - Stop the Sun, move the Earth
A science center where you won’t see tons of artifacts which you can’t come close to. A visit to this museum is fun no matter the age of the visitors - both children and adults have fun experiencing science and learning about it through fully interactive displays. Do not be deceived - you are not going to be bored for a minute! The mission of the centre is to inflame visitors’ interests and imaginations and as we all know the best learning is learning through experience.
Once there you have a choice of exhibitions, labs, workshops, special projects and planetarium projections in a specifically designed cinematic space for the best and most realistic experience. In case you get easily tired around kids you could also have an evening visit for some more peace and quiet. Bonus: Copernicus Center is located right by the Vistula river, so before or right after you might enjoy having a drink or something to nibble on at one of the boats or simply on the steps of the boulevard. To find out more visit their website.
Main entrance of the Center (photo: Klaudia Czerwińska)
There's plenty of interesting green space to enjoy around the facility (photo: Klaudia Czerwińska)
3. Museum of the Polish Jews POLIN
Undoubtedly, POLIN museum is a substantial museum to obtain an understanding of the cultural and social dynamics in pre-war Poland. The highest number of Jews in Europe were living in Poland. After the atrocities of WWII, the Jewish population was almost completely wiped out, however, years after these terrible events took place the memory of Polish Jews still lives on and POLIN is a place of commemoration.
It is this museum that promotes the history of the Polish Jews, their traditions, successes, struggles and tragedies. In 2017 POLIN was awarded a prestigious Europa Nostra award given to institutions exhorting to dialogue, education and raising awareness. Apart from amazing exhibits you will find a piece of interesting architecture.
Reconstructed interiors of Gwoźdźiec synagogue - POLIN Museum (photo: Pxhere)
4. Fryderyk Chopin Museum - his music will build your spirit up and break your heart
Fryderyk Chopin was without a doubt one of the greatest musicians of all time and Poles are proud to call him their own. His virtuosity, skill and ability to touch millions around the world with his music are celebrated in this museum located by Tamka street in Gniński Palace. This museum holds a collection of artifacts, instruments and memorabilia from Chopin’s life.
Even though moving back in time, you are not going to be bored - the sources are presented using inventive technologies. It is a museum of senses that attracts not only children but surprised adults. If you are a classical music lover and you want to find out more about the best Polish musician of all time make your way there (Bonus: the Palace is located between the Royal Tract and the riverside district of Powiśle, so after a visit there is plenty of things to do in the area!)
Ostrogskich Castle, where the museum is located at Tamka street (photo: Klaudia Czerwińska)
5. National Museum of Warsaw - meet the Polish Masters
Located at 3 Aleje Jerozolimskie street by the Poniatowski Bridge and nearby the Royal Tract, Muzeum Narodowe as we call it is a gem sometimes forgotten. As one of the oldest museums of art in the country, it holds over 830,000 works hailing from Poland and abroad including paintings, sculptures, drawings and photographs.
If you seek to see some of the most important paintings and works of influential Polish artists like “The Battle of Grunwald” (also called the Battle of Tannenberg) by Jan Matejko, works by Jacek Malczewski, Maksymilian Gierymski, Henryk Siemiradzki czy Stanisław Wyspiański. It is a quiet museum, however it holds some of the most famous works of art in Poland. To find out more visit their page.
The entrance to the National Museum (photo: Klaudia Czerwińska)
The cafe on the Museum grounds (photo: Klaudia Czerwińska)
6. Ethnographic Museum - sit by our table
One of the oldest (dating back to 1888!) ethnographic museums in Poland and certainly one of the biggest in Europe! I highly recommend you make your way to 1 Kredytowa street where you will get to know the patterns, colors and traditions of Poland. You don’t only walk around viewing the exhibits - every now and then there is the possibility to get your hands dirty and learn how to make your own piece of handcraft!
The country is very diverse in terms of abundance of different patterns. Every time I travel around my country I am astonished by the amount of inspiration each region takes from nature. It is a great place to visit if you want to immerse yourself in the abundant roots of Polish culture but you don’t have enough time to travel around! More info found here.
The Museum building on Kredytowa street (photo: Klaudia Czerwińska)
7. Neon Museum - let the colors blind you
Easily one of the most colorful museums in Warsaw! Since the 1910s, Warsaw introduced more and more neon signs as a form of modern marketing. Each year the collection grew till the war broke out and the Uprising resulted in a complete destruction of Warsaw neons. During the Communist era, neons came back in fashion and Warsaw became illuminated in the most creative ways once more. Find out more here.
The museum is a renovated warehouse with original neons collected from around the city. It creates a mosaic of a truly colorful lights. Even though the whole museum is not a big facility it is fun to visit. To me, as a person born and bred in Warsaw it brings back childhood memories, as many neons were functioning till the 90’s. Fancy some nice pictures and memorable experience? This museum is definitely one to visit.
Neons at the Neon Museum in Praga district, Warsaw (photos: Klaudia Czerwińska)
8. Dollhouse Museum - a walk down memory lane
I came across this one as my dear friend visited me from Singapore. As I am not a great fan of the area around the Palace of Science and Culture I never even knew about this well-hidden gem. It is what it says it is - a museum full of wonderful dollhouses telling stories of children's entertainment over the centuries. Do not be mistaken - it is not a “for-kids-only-museum” - as an adult I had a lot of fun myself and was astonished by the craftsmanship behind those little works of art (beyond anything I’ve seen in a long time).
You enter through a secret entrance (which is a nice bonus) to encounter some of the most artful dollhouses. These little miracles are nothing like you might encounter these days making your way through a toy store. The amount of love and dedication poured into the creative process behind each and every one of them is worth your time. For more info visit their website and... enjoy!
Exhibition at the Dollhouse Museum (photo: Klaudia Czerwińska)
9. Zachęta Art Gallery - new angle, old ways
Every contemporary art lover should make his/her way to Zachęta gallery. This beautiful building holds some of the finest exhibits of contemporary art and is responsible for the selection and patronage of the Polish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale for art and architecture. Over the years it has be home to exhibits by Paweł Althamer, Marlene Dumas, Luca Tuymans, Jana Lebenstein, Zbigniew Liber, Tadeusz Kantor, Yayoi Kusama, Daniel Libeskind or Alina Szapocznikow.
On a map of Warsaw artlife it is definitely a place to remember.
Zachęta Gallery from the front (photo: Klaudia Czerwińska)
10. Łazienki Royal Park Museum - back to the times of old glory
Probably one of my favorite places of all time! One of my dear ones once said “the garden looks as if it’s taken out of ‘The Legend of King Arthur’, truly magical!” And so it is - not only it is one of the biggest and best well-kept gardens of Warsaw but it is also a house to what we call “Palace on the Water”.
It is a complex of beautiful facilities along with the main villa serving as a house to the last king of Poland, Stanisław August Poniatowski. It was a place of meetings, concerts, plays and important affairs. Today, with all its beautiful interiors, the Belvedere Palace (where one of the top Warsaw restaurants is located), The Royal Theatre & Pomarańczarnia (the Old Orangery), Little White House, Myśliwiecki Palace and Amphitheatre are all located within the park and open to the public. On a sunny day I highly recommend you visit Łazienki!
Breathtaking in all its glory - Łazienki Palace (photo: Pxhere)
Stay tuned and take a look here - most of the museums are free on one of the week days. In case of Łazienki it’s Thursday!
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