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The Best Museums in Poland for Art, History and Culture


Chopin museum

Museums are a wonderful way to get to know a country, its history, art and culture. While I definitely would not recommend spending all of your time in museums, they are a great tool to help you understand the country you are visiting in more depth. Poland is no different. It is full of interesting museums worth seeing. Through the museums, you can learn more about the complicated history of Poland and the Polish people as you experience their art, music and handicrafts.


This list of museums is by no means comprehensive. It is just the tip of the iceberg but it will give you a good start. Listed are some of the most important museums as well as the many of the largest museums in the country. In this article I will give you a quick overview of each museum, tell the opening hours and the prices. The prices are given in Polish Zlody. Of course, check the hours and prices before you go as they may change. I would also suggest purchasing tickets ahead of time online as some of these museums get extremely busy and have timed entrances. 


POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews (Warsaw)


POLIN museum

The POLIN Museum is one of the many amazing Warsaw museums. It is a state-of-the-art institution dedicated to preserving and presenting the thousand-year history of Polish Jews. This museum opened its doors in 2013 and has since become one of the most important cultural institutions in Poland. 


What you'll see:

The museum's main exhibition takes visitors on a journey through the different eras of Polish-Jewish history, from the first Jewish settlers in Poland to the present day. The exhibition is divided into eight galleries:


1. Forest (Beginnings)

2. First Encounters (10th-15th centuries)

3. Paradisus Iudaeorum (15th-16th centuries)

4. Into the Country (17th-18th centuries)

5. Encounters with Modernity (19th century)

6. Street (Inter-war period)

7. Holocaust

8. Postwar Years


Each gallery offers a unique and immersive experience, combining historical artifacts, interactive displays, and multimedia presentations. Visitors can explore recreated Jewish streets, a reconstructed wooden synagogue ceiling from the 17th century, Jewish homes, and personal artifacts from Holocaust survivors, all of which provide a tangible connection to the past. 


The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, educational programs, and cultural events throughout the year.


Polin museum

Entry cost:

- Regular ticket: 45 PLN 

- Reduced ticket (students, seniors): 35 PLN 

- Children under 7: Free admission

- Thursdays are free

*There is an audio guide available for 10 PLN 


Opening times:

- Monday, Thursday, Friday: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM

- Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: 10:00 AM - 8:00 PM

- Tuesday: Closed


Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum (Oświęcim)


Auschwitz

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum is a somber but essential site, preserving the memory of the victims of the Nazi concentration and extermination camp during the second world war. Located in Oświęcim, about 70 km west of Krakow, this UNESCO World Heritage site serves as a powerful reminder of the Holocaust. This is a difficult site to visit but necessary for us to understand what happened. If you are travelling with children you will need to decide if they can handle a visit here. We took our four daughters when the youngest was 11 and they are all very grateful to have had the experience. Of course, when visiting, be respectful throughout your visit and take care not to be too loud or boisterous. 


What you'll see:

The museum comprises two main sites: Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Visitors can explore:


Auschwitz I:

- Original brick barracks and buildings

- Exhibition halls with historical documents, photographs, and personal belongings of prisoners such as hair, shoes and luggage

- Documents and photographs showing the camp's history

- The infamous "Arbeit Macht Frei" gate

- Gas chamber and crematorium I


Auschwitz II-Birkenau:

- The iconic gate and railway track where prisoners arrived

- Ruins of gas chambers and crematoria

- Preserved wooden barracks

- Memorial to the victims


*Visitors can choose between guided tours or self-guided visits with informational booklets available in various languages. There are only a few options per day for the self guided tour. If that is what you would like, make sure to get on the website early to grab those spots. There is security at the entrance of the camp where there can be a line.


Barracks auschwitz

Entry cost:

- Entry to the museum is free, but visitors are required to book a time slot in advance

- Guided tours (recommended):

- Regular tour (3.5 hours): 110 PLN 

- Study tour (6 hours): 150 PLN 


Opening times:

The museum is open daily, except for January 1, December 25, and Easter Sunday. Opening hours vary by season:

- December to February: 7:30 AM - 2:00 PM

- March: 7:30 AM - 3:00 PM

- April to October: 7:30 AM - 7:00 PM

- November: 7:30 AM - 2:00 PM


Copernicus Science Centre (Warsaw)


Copernicus science center

For a more interactive and family-friendly museum experience, the Copernicus Science Center in Warsaw offers a fascinating journey into the world of science and technology. The mission of the museum is to make science fun and accessible. 


What you'll see:

The museum features over 400 interactive exhibits spread across several thematic galleries:


1. Roots of Civilization: Explore the foundations of human knowledge and technology

2. Lightzone: Discover the properties of light and optical phenomena

3. On the Move: Learn about physics and mechanics through hands-on experiments

4. Humans and the Environment: Understand the relationship between humans and nature

5. Buzzz!: A gallery designed specifically for children under 6


There is a state-of-the-art planetarium with shows about space and astronomy. There is also a high voltage theatre where live demonstrations of electricity and magnetism are shown as well as a robotic theater featuring robotic actors. Temporary exhibits are also housed here on a rotating schedule. The museum also offers workshops, live science shows, and special events throughout the year.


*Just note that the shows, presentations and demonstrations are all done in Polish. 


Copernicus science center

Entry cost:

- Regular ticket: 46 PLN 

- Reduced ticket (students, seniors): 30 PLN 

- Children under 2: Free

- Planetarium shows: Additional 30 PLN  for adults, 22 PLN  for children


Opening times:

- Tuesday to Friday: 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM

- Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM

- Monday: Closed (except for public holidays)


Oskar Schindler's  Factory Museum (Krakow)


Schindler factory

Located in the Zablocie district of Krakow, Oskar Schindler's Enamel Factory is a powerful testament to the Holocaust and the story of Oskar Schindler, who saved the lives of over 1,000 Jews during World War II. I think this museum is really worth a stop as they have done a wonderful job recreating war time Krakow making each space very interesting and unique.


What you'll see:

This historical museum is divided into three main sections:


1. Krakow under Nazi Occupation (1939-1945):

This permanent exhibition occupies most of the museum space and provides a chronological narrative of Krakow's history during World War II. Visitors walk through recreated scenes of wartime Krakow, including a typical Krakow apartment from the 1930s, the city's main railway station during the early days of the war, a recreated ghetto apartment and Schindler's office, preserved as it was during the war. There are original documents and photographs including the famous "Schindler's list" as well as personal testimonies from Schindler's workers. 


2. Contemporary Art Gallery:

This space hosts temporary exhibitions of modern art. (Covered later in this post)


3. History of the Enamel Factory:

A small exhibition detailing the history of the building and its operations.


Schindler factory

Entry cost:

- Regular ticket: 36 PLN 

- Reduced ticket (students, seniors): 32 PLN 

- Family ticket (max. 2 adults + 2 children): 72 PLN 

- Children under 7: Free

- Free entry on Mondays (limited availability, online reservation required)

Guides are also available for an additional price


Opening times:

- April to October:

  Monday: 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM

  Tuesday to Sunday: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM

- November to March:

  Monday: 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM

  Tuesday to Sunday: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Closed the first Monday of each month


National Museum in Krakow (Main Building)


National museum Krakow

The National Museum in Krakow, established in 1879, is one of the country's premier cultural institutions. While it has several branches throughout the city, we'll focus on the main building, which houses an impressive collection of Polish and European art.


What you'll see:

The museum's collection is vast and diverse, spanning from ancient times to the present day. Permanent exhibits include:


1. Gallery of Decorative Art:

This gallery includes Medieval and Renaissance furniture, goldsmith works, textiles, ceramics and glassware from various periods


2. Gallery of Polish Painting and Sculpture 1764-1900:

Works by Jan Matejko, including the monumental "Battle of Grunwald" and paintings by Jacek Malczewski, Józef Chełmoński, and other Polish masters are housed here.


3. Gallery of 20th and 21st Century Polish Art:

This gallery includes paintings, sculptures, and installations by modern and contemporary Polish artists such as Tadeusz Kantor, Magdalena Abakanowicz, and others


4. Gallery of European Painting:

Works by Old Masters such as Pieter Brueghel the Younger and other 19th-century paintings by European artists are located in this gallery


5. Gallery of Arms and Uniforms:

You will be able to see historical weapons and armor from the Middle Ages to the 20th century as well as Polish military uniforms and insignia


This museum also houses some works by well known European artists such as Leonardo daVinci's "Lady with an Ermine" and Rembrandt's "Landscape with the Good Samaritan".


National museum Krakow

Entry cost:

- Regular ticket: 35 PLN 

- Reduced ticket (students, seniors): 25 PLN 

- Family ticket (2 adults + 2 children): 70 PLN 

- Children under 7: Free

- Free entry on Tuesdays

Guided tours are also offered for an additional price


Opening times:

- Tuesday to Sunday: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM

- Monday: Closed


Warsaw Uprising Museum (Warsaw)


Warsaw uprising museum

The Warsaw rising Museum, opened on the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising, is dedicated to the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against Nazi occupation. This modern, interactive museum offers a poignant look at one of the most significant events in Polish history.


What you'll see:

The museum is spread over several floors. Exhibitions of the museum include:


1. Chronological exhibition of the Uprising:

This exhibitions includes a day-by-day account of the 63-day uprising as well as authentic artifacts, documents, and photographs and recreated scenes from wartime Warsaw


2. The Nazi Occupation of Warsaw:

Exhibits detailing life under Nazi rule and information on the Polish resistance movement are found here


3. The Little Insurgent Room:

This area is dedicated to the children who participated in the uprising and included interactive elements designed for younger visitors


4. Replica B-24 Liberator bomber:

A full-size aircraft replica and information on Allied air drops during the uprising


5. City of Ruins:

This is a 3D film showing the devastation of Warsaw at the end of world war ii.


Warsaw rising museum

Entry cost:

- Regular ticket: 25 PLN (approximately 5.60 EUR)

- Reduced ticket (students, seniors): 20 PLN (approximately 4.45 EUR)

- Family ticket (max. 2 adults + 3 children): 55 PLN (approximately 12.30 EUR)

- Children under 7: Free

- Free entry on Sundays


Opening times:

- Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM

- Thursday: 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM

- Saturday, Sunday: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM

- Tuesday: Closed


European Solidarity Centre (Europejskie Centrum Solidarności) - Gdańsk


solidarity center gdansk

Located near the historic Gdańsk Shipyard, the European Solidarity Centre is a museum and library dedicated to the history of Solidarity, the Polish trade union and civil resistance movement, and other opposition movements of Communist Eastern Europe.


What you'll see:

The permanent exhibition is spread over seven halls, each focusing on different aspects of the Solidarity movement and its impact:


1. The Birth of Solidarność

2. Power of the Powerless

3. Solidarity and Hope

4. War with Society

5. A Path to Democracy

6. The Triumph of Freedom

7. It All Began in Gdańsk


The original shipyard gate from August 1980, recreations of typical Polish apartments from the communist era, interactive displays showing the spread of democratic movements across Eastern Europe and personal items and documents from key Solidarity figures, including Lech Wałęsa are all included in this museum. The building itself is an architectural marvel, with its rust-colored exterior meant to evoke the hulls of ships.


European solidarity center

Entry cost:

- Regular ticket: 35 PLN 

- Reduced ticket (students, seniors): 30 PLN 

- Family ticket (2 adults + max 3 children): 95 PLN 

- Children under 8: Free

*You can tour the shipyards as well for an additional fee. Tours of both the museum and shipyard include audio guides.


Opening times:

- Monday to Friday: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM

- Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 AM - 8:00 PM

- Closed on certain holidays


MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art - Kraków


Mocak museum

The modern art museum MOCAK, opened in 2011, is Kraków's premier venue for contemporary art. Located in the former Schindler's Factory complex, the museum showcases Polish and international contemporary art.


What you'll see:

MOCAK's collection includes works from the second half of the 20th century and the 21st century, with a focus on conceptual and video art. The museum features:


- Permanent collection of contemporary art

- Temporary exhibitions by Polish and international artists

- Library with an extensive collection of art books

- Bookshop and café


Entry cost:

- Regular ticket: 25 PLN 

- Reduced ticket (students, seniors): 14 PLN 

- Children under 7: Free

- Free entry on Tuesdays


Opening times:

- Tuesday to Sunday: 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM

- Monday: Closed


Fryderyk Chopin Museum - Warsaw


Chopin museum

Housed in the historic Ostrogski Palace, the Fryderyk Chopin Museum is dedicated to the life and works of the most famous Polish composer. Some of the most notable pieces include Chopin's last piano, the composer's death mask and a cast of his hand, original manuscripts and letters as well as other personal items including his pocket watch and a lock of his hair. The museum uses modern multimedia techniques, allowing visitors to listen to Chopin's music and explore interactive displays.


What you'll see:

The museum is spread over four floors, each focusing on a different aspect of Chopin's life and work:


- Ground floor: Chopin's Warsaw

- First floor: Chopin's youth

- Second floor: Chopin's Paris

- Third floor: Chopin's music and inspiration


Chopin museum

Entry cost:

- Regular ticket: 30 PLN 

- Reduced ticket (students, seniors): 20 PLN 

- Family ticket (2 adults + 2 children): 80 PLN 

- Children under 7: Free

*Wednesdays are free


Opening times:

- Tuesday to Sunday: 11:00 AM - 8:00 PM

- Monday: Closed


Wawel Royal Castle - Kraków


wawel castle

Wawel Castle, situated on Wawel Hill overlooking the Vistula River, has been at the center of Poland's history and culture for centuries. It served as the residence of Polish kings for over 500 years and is now one of the country's premier art museums.


What you'll see:

Wawel Castle is actually a complex of structures, each offering unique exhibits:


1. State Rooms:

- Renaissance interiors with original furnishings

- Stunning collection of Flemish tapestries

- Painted friezes and coffered ceilings


2. Royal Private Apartments:

- Living quarters of the royal family

- 16th and 17th-century furnishings and decorations


3. Crown Treasury and Armory:

- Polish coronation regalia (replicas)

- Medieval weaponry and armor

- Crown jewels and royal memorabilia


4. "The Lost Wawel" exhibition:

- Archaeological findings from the castle's history

- Reconstructions of early medieval buildings


5. Dragon's Den:

- Limestone cave beneath the castle

- Connected to the legend of the Wawel Dragon


Wawel castle

Entry cost:

Prices vary depending on which parts of the castle you wish to visit but run between 10 and 45 PLN


Reduced prices are available for students and seniors. Children under 7 enter free. 


Opening times:

Hours vary by season and for different parts of the castle. Generally:

- April to October: 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM

- November to March: 9:30 AM - 4:00 PM

- Closed on Mondays in winter months


Wilanów Palace - Warsaw


Wilanow palace

Often called "The Polish Versailles," Wilanów Royal Palace is one of the most precious monuments of Polish Baroque architecture. It was built in the late 17th century as a summer residence for King John III Sobieski.


What you'll see:

The palace complex includes:


1. The Palace:

- Baroque and Rococo interiors

- Royal apartments of King John III Sobieski and Queen Marie Casimire

- The White Hall, Grand Vestibule, and other state rooms

- Art gallery featuring Polish portraits from 16th to 19th centuries


2. Park and Gardens:

- Baroque Italian garden

- English-style landscape park

- Rose garden


3. Poster Museum:

- Located in the former riding hall

- Collection of Polish and international poster art


4. Orangery:

- Houses temporary exhibitions


Wilanow palace gardens

Entry cost:

- Palace (including park): 35 PLN 

- Reduced price: 28 PLN

- Park only: 7 PLN 

​-Children under 7 enter free.


Opening times:

Palace:

- May to September: Monday 9:30 AM - 4:00 PM, Tuesday-Sunday 9:30 AM - 6:00 PM

- October to April: Monday 9:30 AM - 4:00 PM, Tuesday-Sunday 9:30 AM - 4:00 PM


Park:

- Open daily from 9:00 AM until dusk


This is just a short list but there are many other wonderful museums in Poland. Also consider checking out the art museum above cloth hall in Krakow as well as the gingerbread museum in Poznan. Whether you are searching for visual arts, a better sense of Polish civic life and culture or a glimpse into the interesting history of the country,  you will be able to find a Polish museum to fit your needs and give you a greater understanding of its people and their beautiful heritage. 


Ready to travel to Poland? Contact us at eurotravelsbydesign@gmail.com for us to begin planning your custom made itinerary.




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