Gdansk

Sightseeing

Museum of the Second World War (Muzeum II Wojny Światowej)

World War II began with Germany’s attack on the Polish Military Transport Depot on the Westerplatte Peninsula in Gdansk (or the Free City of Danzig as it was in 1939) and so it’s appropriate that this remarkable museum, opened in March 2017, should have been built in the city. Nine years in the making, the whole experience is quite breath-taking and it really needs to be seen to be appreciated. Those interested in the topic can easily spend a whole day there, and even moving at a steady pace will need 2-3 hours just to see everything. The heart of the museum is the permanent exhibition (though there’s no telling how permanent that might be at present) which is split into three parts – The Road to War, The War’s Long Shadow and The Horrors of War. Within these three areas there are a total of 18 rooms or thematic sections covering different aspects of how World War II came about and developed and the suffering it caused. While the numerous films, photographs and excellent English translations mark this museum out as one of the best we’ve ever visited, it is the collection of artefacts, many the personal belongings of families involved with the war which were donated to the museum, that really bring the personal experiences of World War II to life.

The telling of the story of World War II in the museum grows and spreads, as the war itself did, like a flame from the initial explosion of fire at Westerplatte and simultaneously just metres from here at the Polish Post Office, to engulf large swathes of the globe. While there are many stories which will touch you, the story of what happened to Poland and her people will leave an indelible mark. There are so many parts to recommend that there isn’t enough space here to do it justice, but if we had to pick out one, it would be the section dedicated to the photos and film of American journalist Julien Bryan who recorded what he witnessed during the German attack on Warsaw in September 1939 – the photo of a young girl kneeling over her elder sister senselessly mowed down by a German pilot while picking potatoes leaves you in no doubt of the complete horror of what real war looks like.

What we advise is that you go online and reserve tickets ahead of time (entrances are limited) and make sure to spend 5zl on an audio-guide, which not only senses where you are and tells you what you are looking at, but also gives clear instructions on where to go to next to continue your tour. The exhibition is extremely impressive and, in our opinion, alone justifies making a visit to Gdansk.

Map

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Open

Open 10:00 - 19:00. Closed Mon.
Last entrance at 17:00.

Price/Additional Info

Admission 23/16zł, family ticket 55zł (2 adults and up to 3 children). Tuesday free.

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18.05.2017
Editor Poland
Gdansk
We don't usually encourage you to comment on specific venues but we''ll make an exception here. If you visit the museum please go onto our website and let us and the people running the museum know what you thought of it. If, like us, you are impressed then please let us and more importantly them know that. Like any new venture there are things that could be tweaked and improved upon but considering the size of this project and the immensely complicated story it is trying to tell, we think the team behind the exhibition and the architects and construction teams have done a quite phenomenal job. Help us to let them know that.
24.04.2017
Vaughan Elliott
Gdansk
Excellent museum: an impossible task to cover the whole war, but this really seems to do it. What I liked about it most was the mixture of traditional objects in glass boxes with lost of text and multi-media exhibits: touch screen as well as many interviews with people sharing their memories and experiences. Unlike lots of other new museums, whilst there is music and background sound, it is never too loud, mawkish and overcooked. That said, there was one harrowing section about ethnic cleansing accompanied unintentionally by ''The House of the Rising Sun'' creeping in from the final post-war room, but this is a minor quibble. (I''m in my 50s now and can''t stand loud museums - Roads to Freedom and Warsaw Uprising Museum drove me potty and should come with ear defenders.) One criticism - we were told this would take 4 hours and planned accordingly, small nieces in tow, but 8 hours wouldn''t have been enough to see, read and, especially, listen to all the exhibits and testimonies. Plan to spend a whole day. However, at the moment there''s no food on sale, so sneak in a Mars Bar or two. There has been some inexplicable political controversy surrounding the museum, but for me to complain that it isn''t Polish enough is: 1. Simply not true - Poland is always at the heart of the museum''s narrative. 2. Missing the point - if I go to the National Gallery I don''t moan that all the best paintings are by Italians. This is a museum for the world and the creators and curators have done Gdansk and Poland proud.
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