Banksy Museum

  ul. Berka Joselewicza 21 ,   Kazimierz         08 Apr 2024
Before we get into what a trip to Kraków's Banksy Museum is like, there are a few things - things that should be obvious (but perhaps aren't) - that need to be said. First off, the very concept of a Banksy Museum is both problematic and absurd. No one knows who the anonymous street artist (presumed to be a British man) actually is, no one can be 100% sure what work should be attributed to him (is he just one person? a collective?), and most of his art is done in public spaces, making it impossible to display his original street art installations in a gallery.
The art in the Banksy Museum is based off of photos of his work in public spaces.

As a result of the many myths and mysteries surrounding this deliberately enigmatic artist, 'Banksy' more embodies a concept or ideology than an individual, and anyone exposed to a large selection of his work (in this 'museum' for example), will quickly ascertain that the Banksy ideology is very anti-commercial, anti-consumerist and anti-capitalist (among other things). As such, the very concept of adapting and reproducing his art in a for-profit 'museum,' complete with high ticket prices and a gift shop, goes against the very ideology of the work on display, and is therefore paradoxical and ridiculous. None of the work in this museum is endorsed by Banksy, none of it has been licenced from him (he doesn't licence his work), in fact none of the work in this museum is actually by Banksy - they are reproductions of works the anonymous artist has alleged done around the world. All of which is to say that this is not a Banksy Museum; there can be no such thing as a Banksy Museum, because it would contradict much of what the artist stands for. So.
Is this graphic print by Banksy? We're not even sure, but its message is unmistakable.

What is the Kraków Banksy Museum?

Kraków's Banksy Museum was created by Hazis Vardar, who operates several similar Banksy attractions in major cities around the world. To create the Kraków 'museum' he gave a team of anonymous (hmm...) Polish artists access to a former factory space in Kazimierz - Marcin Jarra's Plated, Silver and Metal Products Factory from 1886 - and asked them to reproduce works by the star street artist directly on the walls. Inside the post-industrial interiors, visitors can encounter over 150 works attributed to or associated with Banksy, including not just murals, but also some short videos, paintings and graphics, plus quotes by the artist. The huge exhibit stretches over 1000 square meters and several floors, and each piece is accompanied by a photograph of the original work by Banksy, with information (in Polish and English) about when and where it was originally created. The Banksy Museum is more expensive than most Kraków museums and the space is specifically designed - with absolutely no sense of irony, self-awareness or cheek - so that visitors exit through the large gift shop, where you have an opportunity to buy a wide range of products with Banksy's designs printed on them.

Is the Kraków Banksy Museum Worth Visiting?

While controversial (at least in our opinion it should be), the Banksy Museum does have some unique advantages, and whether or not to visit is an ideological decision each individual gets to make on their own. We ponied up and learned a lot about Banksy, his principles and beliefs - which are clearly conveyed through his art. The Banksy Museum allows you to see more of his work in one place than would otherwise be possible, outside of a photo album or slideshow. When you are looking at art that is a facsimile of the original, it becomes less about the actual artistry of the piece and more about its meaning. Because Banksy's art is so politically charged, this attraction spreads his message, which we assume is the primary reason he tolerates places like this profiting off of his work and cultural status. The difference between seeing one of his works in a public space, or even online, and seeing over 150 of his works at once, is that you get a fuller sense of the artist's beliefs, philosophy and humour; it's impact is more greatly felt and the artist himself actually comes off as more of a visionary with a specific ideology than the trickster or prankster that he is sometimes portrayed as.
Featuring Banksy's famous rat motif, here he cleverly conveys the point that graffiti has the power to change the way people think. This museum, operating in a very dark grey area in terms of legality, proves his point.
During our visit we also learned a lot about Banksy's activity that we hadn't been aware of, including his fondness for altering amateur paintings bought in thrift stores, his ambitious Walled Off Hotel project in Jerusalem, and his work in Ukraine in the early months of the war. The space itself is interesting and the artists who created have taken some fun creative liberties, like filling a restroom with rat stencils. We visited with a 9-year-old, and though the meaning of many of the works was lost on him, it was certainly thought-provoking, inspiring and sparked some conversations that otherwise wouldn't have been had.
Reproduction of a room from Banksy's Walled Off Hotel in Jerusalem.

Average visiting time: 1hr.


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Open 11:00-19:00.

Price/Additional Info

Admission 55/40zł; kids 9 and under free.


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