Warsaw is home to Poland’s most inspiring museums, which will give you a chance to learn about the country’s turbulent history, visual arts, classical music, science and more. Check out our picks to get the most out of your visit.
Located on the former site of the Warsaw Ghetto in the Muranów district, the POLIN museum celebrates the history and heritage of the Jewish community in Poland. Designed by Finnish architect Rainer Mahlamäki, the modern glass, copper and concrete building houses a 43,000 sq ft permanent exhibition space with multimedia displays including reconstructed parts of historical Jewish synagogues, an interactive 3D model of Kracow and its Jewish neighbourhood of Kazimierz and a Holocaust gallery. There is also a kosher restaurant and café on-site.
The Warsaw Rising Museum commemorates the 1944 Warsaw Uprising (in which over 150,000 civilians were killed). A multi-level interactive exhibition features everything from photographs, recordings and videos revealing everyday life before, during and after the uprising, to a replica of the Liberator B-24J bomber used by the Allies for relief flights. There is also a recreation of basement sewer tunnels used by the resistance to move around the city. You can watch a 3D movie of Warsaw destroyed by the uprising, and visit an observation tower at the top of the building with panoramic views of the city.
One of the oldest museums in Poland, the National Museum is famous for its vast art collection including over 830,000 works dating from antiquity to the present. It’s a great place to get to know Polish art from the likes of Matejko, Witkacy and Wilhelm Sasnal and admire international masters such as Botticelli, Rembrandt and Ingres.
Directly overlooking the Vistula River, the Copernicus Science Centre is a great venue for both kids and adults. Seven permanent exhibitions (including Humans and the Environment, Robotic Theatre and Lightzone) allow visitors to take part in scientific experiments and play with objects on display. An adjacent planetarium lets you observe the cosmos on comfortable reclined seats.
The Fryderyk Chopin Museum is devoted to the life and work of the prominent Polish composer Fryderyk Chopin. From Chopin’s own lock of hair and personal letters, to the piano he played during the last two years of his life, the museum showcases over 5,000 objects spread over four floors. A range of interactive displays enables visitors to listen to music, watch videos and play music-themed games. Make sure you book in advance, as only 70 people are allowed to enter the museum at one time.
Also located east of the Wisła River, in the hip Soho Factory area (home of the city’s creative businesses), the Neon Museum’s collection includes over 60 neon signs from the Cold War era. Some of them are adorning the exterior walls of the complex and can be seen lit up after dark. It makes for a truly fascinating alternative to the city’s mainstream museums. Photography is allowed and encouraged in one of the biggest surprises for many who make the trip here. Please note it has short opening hours and is completely closed on Tuesdays.