Now in its 19th year, the Night of Museums has grown from a minor event (the first edition saw a paltry 16,000 people visit 11 venues) to a mighty juggernaut attracting well in excess of 200,000 people. Held on May 13th, this edition will see over 200 museums, galleries and public (and not so public) institutions throw open their doors through the evening with a host of special, one-off events, concerts and reenactments lending a sense of something special.
Jerozolimskie 3, mnw.art.pl
Famed for its collection of Dutch and Flemish masters, it’s also the final word in Polish art. For many, though, the museum’s ace card is the Gallery of Polish Design. Offering a full 360 view of Polish 20th century applied arts, it’s an aesthetic joy that features everything from iconic PRL era wall units and tulip chairs to kitschy toys and gizmos. Then there’s the world class Gallery of Ancient Art. Featuring 1,800 ancient relics, find papyrus scrolls, Iranian golden masks and even an Egyptian mummy!
Museum of Life Under Communism
Piękna 28/34, mzprl.pl
Here, rifle and rummage through a room mocked-up to resemble a typical household apartment, watch propaganda films, peer inside a phone box, paw at vintage keep-fit gear or covet the ladies fashions of the time. Detailed in its captions, witty in its presentation and comprehensive in its content, it is a place where normal items such as aftershave bottles, postcards, clothing and crude household appliances are allowed to shine on a totem and tell their own story.
Mińska 25 (Soho Factory), neonmuzeum.org
Playing a key role in the government’s attempts to fuse socialist ideology with consumerism, the campaign to ‘neon-ize’ Poland saw gloomy cities still bearing the scars of war boldly gleam once more under lights designed and produced by many of the leading artisans of the time. Salvaged from the scrapheap (in many instances, literally), houses several dozen such neons that once lit up Poland. The visuals here are stunning.
Stalin’s limousine at the Car Museum in Otrębusy
Warszawska 21 (Otrębusy)
Home to over 300 vehicles, displays include a 1930s Polish-produced Buick, WWII trucks and tanks, a Ford Thunderbird and Buick Skylark. From behind the Iron Curtain, car boffins will go bananas over the Russian-made Volgas, John Paul II’s Pope Mobile, and domestic classics such as the Syrena 104. The random layout, oily smells, cobwebbed corners and randomly assembled junk add to the sense of treading somewhere special.
Photo courtesy of fotoplastikonwarszawski.pl
Jerozolimskie 51, fotoplastikonwarszawski.pl
Thought to date from 1905, Warsaw’s Fotoplastikon generates 3D perspectives from a set of 2D images: visitors peer through an eyepiece and are taken on a trip around the world while music from days yore parps away in the background.
Miniature train set at Warsaw’s Train Museum
Towarowa 3, stacjamuzeum.pl
Inside, find 200 scale models of locomotives and steam engines, some beautifully detailed model villages and all kinds of train related ephemera: clocks, timetables, uniforms, etc. The best is saved for the cemetery of decommissioned trains outside. Top billing goes to a 1942 German armored artillery train, and the walnut-clad personal wagon once used by Poland’s first post-war leader, Bolesław Bierut.
Fryderyk Chopin Museum
Okólnik 1, chopin.museum
The 18th century Ostrogski Palace is the perfect foil for the ultra-modern content of this multi-sensory space. The personal items are captivating (his death mask, gifts from his muse, etc.), but the big victory here is the museum’s ability to suck visitors right back into the times of Chopin through the use of interactive sights and sounds.
Legia Warszawa Museum
Marketed as Poland’s biggest football club, this museum seeks to affirm Legia’s status with the expected spread of glinting silverware. More interesting are the weird bits and pieces: a chunk of the old floodlights, vintage match posters and a collection of paraphernalia connected to Legia’s favorite son – 80’s super star Kazimierz Deyna.
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Museum in Old Town
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Museum
Freta 16, mmsc.waw.pl/en/
Benefiting from a significant re-haul, this museum celebrates the groundbreaking scientist that discovered polonium. The Curie-osities include lab equipment, her trademark black dress and even her nail file.
Opening of the Chris Niedenthal exhibition at Dom Spotkań z Historią
Dom Spotkań z Historią
Karowa 20, dsh.waw.pl
The History Meeting House wins points for small but frequently excellent exhibitions that cover topics such as ‘rebuilding Warsaw’ and ‘Socialist Realist architecture.’
Museum of Praga
Targowa 50/52, muzeumpragi.pl
The Praga Museum tells the story of the area with such charm and simplicity that it manages to leave an unlikely impression that’s as punchy as that of the big institutions. Star billing goes to a restored Jewish prayer room and the Flying Carpet: an exhibit festooned with various trinkets and treasures once available for purchase from local pavement traders.
Treasures of Warsaw’s past at the Museum of Warsaw in Old Town
Museum of Warsaw
Rynek Starego Miasta 28-42, muzeumwarszawy.pl
Thousands of objects have been gathered here to detail the story of Warsaw in a non-linear style that can at times feel overwhelming. Peculiar souvenirs, scale models, old postcards and recovered works of art all combine with a mass of trivia to leave visitors boggled with knowledge. The vertiginous views of the Rynek below are worth the admission alone.
Courtyard of the Royal Castle in Warsaw
The Royal Castle in Warsaw
Pl. Zamkowy 4, zamek-krolewski.pl
Highlights are many but include the lavishly restored 18th century royal apartments with 22 paintings by Canaletto, the Senators’ Chamber in which the Constitution of the Third of May was signed, the biggest collection of oriental rugs in Europe and two remarkable Rembrandt paintings.
A permanent element of the exhibition of the Museum of Wola is the Wolski Cabinet
Srebrna 12, muzeumwoli.muzeumwarszawy.pl
What was once a dreary old place has been rebooted as a smart community-minded museum and one of the most forward-thinking institutions in the capital. Bringing the wider area of Wola alive, find engaging content that’s creatively presented: posters, family memorabilia and various media relating to the area – currently, that means an exhibition dedicated to the iconic local drag queen Kim Lee!
Immersive Monet & the impressionists at ArtBox Experience
Żelazna 51/53, artboxexperience.com
Found on the upper floors of Fabryka Norblin, this multimedia ‘immersive space’ has already showcased some memorable exhibitions, not least its presentation of colourised old Warsaw photos. Right now, the great impressionist artists of old that have been given the immersive treatment.
Copernicus Science Centre
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 20, kopernik.org.pl
Zillions of interactive exhibits allow visitors to experience an earthquake, walk on the moon, look at the world through the eyes of a snake and discover if your partner’s a good liar – and that’s the tip of the iceberg.
Photo courtest of the Dollhouse Museum
Podwale 15, muzeumdomkow.pl
Over 120 intricate dolls houses through the ages have been amassed in this remarkably enchanting collection, the highlight arguably being a house built by a Polish RAF pilot that took six years to restore.
Photograph Panstwowe Muzeum-Etnograficzne by Filip Kwiatkowski
Kredytowa 1, ethnomuseum.pl
A visual pleasure that showcases colorful costumes, fabrics and ceramics from Poland and beyond. And those assuming an ethnographic museums lack punch are in for a surprise: exhibitions are brilliant in their scope, wit and quirkiness and have included explorations of the Disco Polo genre, Hungarian erotica, iconic streetwear, etc.
An display of an opened Fiat 126p at the Museum of Technology
Museum of Technology
Pl. Defilad 1, nmt.waw.pl
Born in the 1950s, but given a recent and spectacular refit, there’s a gold mine of oddities here relating to Poland’s contribution to world science and engineering – for example, bits and pieces honouring Poland’s computing history and a whole fleet of old motorbikes and cars, all of which are beautifully presented.
Anielewicza 6, polin.pl
Composed of eight galleries, this architectural marvel covers different stages of local Jewish history, from the middle ages to the present day. Highlights of this museum include a staggeringly beautiful replica of the ceiling of Gwoździec synagogue, and a ‘remake’ of a typical inter-war Jewish Warsaw street. That it was named the European Museum of the Year in 2016 such much for its ambitions to focus on more than the Holocaust alone. Coinciding with the 80th anniversary of the Ghetto Uprising, the temporary exhibition tells the story of the rebellion from a civilian perspective.
Polish Vodka Museum
Pl. Konesera 1, muzeumpolskiejwodki.pl
The Polish Vodka Museum features five thematic rooms that do a slick and entertaining job of documenting the national tipple. Highpoints number a smart collection of salvaged bottles and an interactive room in which visitors learn can test their knowledge on a quiz machine and strap on some trippy goggles to experience the effects of being completely sloshed.
Royal Łazienki Museum
Agrykola 1, lazienki-krolewskie.pl
The city’s most spectacular park also features a string of museums in its elegant outbuildings and palaces. Among these are the artworks inside the Palace on the Isle collected by the country’s last king.
Kostki Potockiego 10/16, wilanow-palac.pl
Commonly-known as the Polish Versailles, first visit the baroque era gardens before then stepping through the King’s former apartments and living quarters.
Bookstore at CSW
Center of Contemporary Art (CSW)
Jazdów 2, u-jazdowski.pl
Though their message stands to get a little more conservative with the recent appointment of a new director, its likely this will remain one of the leading gallery spaces in Poland – and even if not, just creeping around the corridors of this baroque castle is a thrill in itself.
Museum on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22, artmuseum.pl
Previously used to temporarily house Berlin’s Kunsthalle, this riverfront pavilion has seen a number of edgy contemporary exhibitions including, currently, one dedicated to the works of Aleksandra Waliszewska.
Zachęta National Art Gallery
Pl. Małachowskiego 3, zacheta.art.pl
Consistently challenging our perception of “what art is”, the Zachęta’s reputation precedes itself: a bastion of contemporary art, its ever-changing lineup of exhibitions have presented a range of Polish and international artists. Often provocative and always on-edge, this is arguably the most famous gallery in the country.
The Heritage Interpretation Centre
Brzozowa 11-13, mhw.pl
This small venue tells the complex story of Old Town’s post-war reconstruction: if the first section about Warsaw’s physical elimination is poignant, then the other bits do a fabulous job of sharing the optimism and alacrity that followed.
What was once a Tsarist prison assumed a doubly sinister function under the Nazis. Some 100,000 Polish political prisoners were held here, 37,000 of which were executed on-site. Split in two sections, cells are found on one side, while on the other the full story of the invasion and occupation.
The Warsaw Rising Museum
Grzybowska 79, 1944.pl
Dedicating to chronicling the story of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, this unequivocally the most important museum in the city. Points of interest are rife and include a life-size replica of a B-24 Liberator plane as well as a claustrophobic ‘sewage tunnel’ through which visitors squeeze to get an idea of the kind of conditions combatants once faced. The aftermath is also covered in detail and concludes with a 3D film that takes viewers swooping over the smoldering ruins of the capital.
Artykuł Night of Museums 2023 pochodzi z serwisu Warsaw Insider.