We've created for you a list of the 'top 10 museums to visit in Warsaw' should you need a quick lowdown on how to spend your potentially limited time in the city. Before we continue, there are a few things you should know in light of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. All museums were ordered to close mid-March when the Polish government introduced restrictions to combat the spread of Coronavirus, however, all were given the green light to re-open as of Monday 04 May - this does not mean that all have opened their doors again, some are still adapting to the new reality and regulations, in an environment currently void of international tourists and locals still apprehensive of venturing out into public spaces. In our list, we advise you follow the links to each museum for full details on whether or not it is open/closed and what is currently on offer - even if it is only a virtual tour or temporary exhibition showcased online, it's better than nothing!
Gallery of Paintings, Sculpture and the Decorative Arts, and the Royal Gardens are equally charming.
A rare example of European Union funding being used in a genuinely visionary way, the CSC is many things, including the very best science centre in Europe, one of Warsaw’s top tourist attractions, and - in the words of Poland’s then Education Minister shortly before the opening - an attempt to restate the case for science and research in what can still be an intensely and deeply religious country. In that sense, giving the centre the name of the man who did so much to end the church’s monopoly of education in the first place is little short of a masterstroke. Additional hands-on activities geared especially towards teens can be found in the Re: generation Zone, where visitors over 14 can experiment with psychology, sociology, economics or biotechnology through 80 multimedia exhibits – we swear we’ve never seen teens more effusive and excited as they tried to identify a monkey’s emotions, or finish lyrics to popular songs. There are also four interactive labs dealing with chemistry, biology, physics and robotics that offer supervised experiments for kids over 9 (available only in Polish, Tue-Sun, included in ticket price). A new temporary exhibition entitled "Air - it's more than just nothing" examines the nature of wind! In addition to all that, there’s the Planetarium of the Copernicus Science Centre, which immerses visitors in 20 million stars, and also screens films about natural science (imagine yourself diving into a volcano) and the origins of life on earth.
A millennium of Polish Jewish history is explained in this excellent museum which opened in 2014 following many years of planning. The grand opening ceremony was headed by the President of Israel, Reuwen Riwlin and the then Polish President Bronisław Komorowski. In less then a year and a half POLIN won the prestigious award for European Museum of the Year in April 2016! The museum stands in the middle of a large, attractive square overlooking the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes which commemorates the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943. It was designed by Leon Suzin and sculpted by Nathan Rapaport in 1948. Interestingly, stone used in the monument had been brought to Warsaw by the Nazis and was to be used in architectural projects planned for a new Warsaw by Hitler's architect, Albert Speer. Close by stands an earlier memorial tablet to the Ghetto Heroes, also by Suzin, which was unveiled in 1946. In the square, you'll also find a statue of Jan Karski, a Polish resistance fighter famed for informing the allies about the existence of Nazi death camps and the systematic destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto. Don't miss out on having a wander around the square before heading into the museum. The building itself is a stunning new copper and glass structure designed by Finnish architect Rainer Mahlamäki. It functions as both a centre for Jewish culture and as a means to educate with its centrepiece being the very impressive permanent exhibition which you will find spread over eight galleries (more than 120 international scholars were consulted to create the various historical features).
After a long and exhaustive renovation, one of our favourite museums in Warsaw finally reopened in grand fashion at the end of May 2017. The revamped museum's stored permanent collection (300,000 items total) now consists of three new curated sections: The Things of Warsaw, Warsaw Data and The History of Tenement Houses. Only 7,352 objects were initially selected to be displayed over 8 thematic rooms, however, now all remaining rooms are open (21 in total). Every item has been carefully chosen and many played starring roles in the city's storied history. There is plenty to see in this fascinating museum. The very buildings the museum is located in are a sight to behold. Interestingly, despite severe damage during the war, many of the original aspects of the architecture remained intact and can be viewed during your visit. The museum is a truly amazing and kinaesthetic way of experiencing the events and understanding the processes that formed Warsaw as we know it today.
Opened in 2004, this remains one of Poland’s best museums. Packed with interactive displays, photographs, video footage and miscellaneous exhibits it’s a museum that’s guaranteed to leave a mark on all visitors. Occupying a former tram power station the 2,000m2 space is split over several levels, leading visitors through the chronological story of the Uprising. Start off by learning about life under Nazi rule, your tour accompanied by the background rattle of machine guns, dive bombers and a thumping heartbeat. Different halls focus on the many aspects of the Uprising; walk through a replica radio station, or a covert printing press. The mezzanine level features film detailing the first month of battle, before which visitors get to clamber through a mock sewer. The final sections are devoted to the creation of a Soviet puppet state, a hall of remembrance, and a particularly poignant display about the destruction of the city; take time to watch the black and white ‘before and after’ shots of important Warsaw landmarks being systematically obliterated by the Nazis as punishment.
Touted as one of the most high tech in Europe, this museum officially opened in the spring of 2010 to mark the 200th anniversary of one of Poland’s most famous sons. Taking up four floors the museum features an interactive style and shares the life of Chopin from start to finish leaving absolutely no detail out. Among the 5,000 exhibits are a lock of hair, his school exercise books, a sweet box, a gold watch presented to the ten year old Frederic by an admiring Italian singer and the passport he used to enter England. So comprehensive is the collection it even features the last letter he wrote to his family and dried flowers from his deathbed. Also, of course, are several paintings and sculptures (including his death mask), a recreation of his Paris drawing room, and even an intriguing section on the women who made the man. However, what really revolutionises this museum is the way your route is conducted. Aside from an avalanche of e-books, audio-visuals, music games and touchscreen options, the museum allows visitors to ‘adapt their trip to their particular circumstances.'
The ‘Polish Versailles’ is just one of the many fitting monikers applied to this splendid late 17th-century palace which can be found in the Warsaw district of Wilanów, 10 kilometres south of the city centre. Essential visiting for all who come to soak up the capital’s lavish culture and wish to understand a little more about ancient Poland, Wilanów is more than just a palace – it represents an era from which much has been lost. The palace, park and surrounding ensemble of buildings represent the height of Polish Baroque and this is one of Poland’s greatest national treasures.The sprawling 45-hectare setting is also full of things to do, from visiting the superb Poster Museum next door to renting a rowboat on the palace’s lake. If the weather’s good and you’ve got time to spare, it’s easy to spend an entire and thoroughly rewarding day here.
The Museum was created in 1993 but in 2015, it relocated to its current site in the impressive Warsaw Citadel and the permanent collection can now be viewed in appropriately grand and stoic surroundings. The museum documents the shocking events of 1940, known as the Katyń Massacre, when around 22,000 Polish officers were executed by their Soviet captors in the middle of a Russian forest. The museum has a host of objects, documents and personal effects that have been recovered from the site near Smoleńsk, Russia. The artefacts from the victims and a scrolling list of the victim’s names needs no explanation and the multimedia presentation of the extenuating circumstances, the victim's stories and historical relevancy are well thought out and it's worth exploring the whole museum.
Unmissable. One of the leading galleries in Poland, with a focus on the contemporary. The Zachęta National Gallery of Art (Narodowa Galeria Sztuki) is located in the centre of Warsaw, just across from the Saxon Garden. The name of the gallery derives from the Polish word for encouragement and refers to the group that created it: Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts (Towarzystwo Zachęty Sztuk Pięknych), created in 1860. The gallery does a fine job in bringing the best in contemporary art from the 20th and 21st century to you in a mix of temporary exhibitions.