Wroclaw's 10 Best Contemporary Art Galleries and Museums
One of the most visually stunning cities in Poland, Wrocław is a historic gem with unique architecture and a lively arts scene clustered around the Market Square. Culture Trip take a close look at Wrocław’s arts institutions and bring you the top ten contemporary art galleries and museums showcasing local creativity and heritage.
Building, Art Gallery
Galeria Awangarda is located in the former Hatzfeld palace, built by the architect of the Brandeburg Gate in Berlin and consequently destroyed during the Second World War. It is probably the most avant-garde gallery in Wroclaw and Silesia, often showcasing controversial exhibitions touching on social and political issues. The former historical building that expands over 1,000 square meters hosts permanent exhibitions of modern artworks and ceramics but also new Polish and European artists in every field possible: visual art, industrial design, advertising photography, theatre and film, VJ and street art projects.
Gallery Arttrakt was founded by the historian Ida Smakosz-Hankiewicz in 2010 in a part of an old Renaissance tenement house which once belonged to a Wroclaw patrician. It then became the home of the Polish artist Eugeniusz Geppert and now is a meeting place for exhibitions, art workshops, discussions and all forms of activities associated with art. Focusing on contemporary art, Attrakt aims to promote not only established and well-known Polish creatives but also young ones, by organising group and solo exhibitions in the gallery, participating in art fairs and holding art auctions. Numerous notable and exceptional Polish artists have held exhibitions in Artrakt Gallery and these include, among others, Anna Gubernat, Joanna Mlacka, Ireneusz Walczak, Izabela Chamcyk and Jacek Sroka.
Socato Art Gallery started out in 2009 with exhibitions of artworks in different parts of the city of Wroclaw until moving permanently to Solny Square. Founded by lawyers Zofia and Rafal Olesinski and Academy of Fine Arts graduate Karolina Jaklewicz, the gallery promotes artworks focusing on long processes of creating, avoiding easy visual effects. Between painting exhibitions such as Flow by Natalia Bazowska, Dybamic Structures by Michal Misiak, photography exhibitions such as Zona by Robert Olejnik, and the Young Art Review Young Blood, a nationwide exhibition for arts graduates, the gallery has also cooperated with the Polski Theatre in Wroclaw for various shows and projects.
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Established by the Wroclaw municipality in 1991, Galeria Miejska promotes Polish art in Wroclaw and Wroclaw art abroad. Apart from presenting works of fine art, the aim of the gallery is to showcase the existence of various forms of art and other areas of creativity, the beauty and the freedom of it all. Its director, Miroslaw Jasinski, a diplomat and an art historian, has also been overseeing the publishing of the City Gallery Library series, which will cover subjects such as the theory of art and aesthetics. The venue has also established a Foundation with the aim of finding support and promotion from patrons and lovers of the arts, showcasing its dedication to creativity.
WRO Art Center is housed in a partly renovated-partly new building, which used to be the first coffee roasting plant in Europe at the end of the 19th century. First opened in 2008 by the WRO Center for Media Art Foundation, an independent organisation focusing on contemporary art and new media, the gallery offers a steady programme of exhibitions by Polish and foreign artists, concerts, screenings and lectures. There are research facilities where artists can use new technologies to develop their projects, while the Media Reading Room provides access to Polish and international media art. WRO Art Center organises eight in-house exhibitions per year, with some of the most notable ones being by Miroslaw Balka, Jetzt, Igor Krenz and Wolf Kahlen.
Galeria M was founded in 1997 and is currently located in two venues, one on Stare Jatki Street and one in an 18th century guardhouse building on Swidnicka Street. The venue boasts a permanent exhibition of 70 artists including Krzysztof Skorczewski, Danka Jarowska and younger artists such as Monica Cichon and Aleksandra Makowska. Organising exhibitions with a focus on painting, sculpture, glass and ceramic arts, Galeria M also publishes visual materials such as catalogues, cards, invitations and calendars and runs activities such as interior design workshops.
A gallery created to promote young talent, it is called DNA to show the uniqueness and complexity of every artwork, whatever its medium and creator, displayed in the gallery. Situated in the heart of Wroclaw, DNA is a real breeding ground for young artists who create beautiful works, some of which have even been exhibited across Europe. Past projects include young art auctions, exhibitions focusing on art by women, a Sky Graffiti Contest, a trip to the London Art Fair and, most recently, openings of exhibitions by Lenka Kubica and Marcin Painta openings.
The main museum for contemporary art in Wroclaw is located in an impressively restored old air shelter west of the Old Town. The above-ground bunker has become an elevator which brings visitors to the café of the museum on the sixth floor, offering a great view of the Wroclaw skyline. The surreal atmosphere of the science fiction-like building continues inside with the exhibited artefacts, which do not steer away from controversy. These include a human body made from pubic hair and two baby dolls with the provocative title You can shave the baby.
Beautifully located within a former monastery and Benedictine church from the 15th century, the unique Museum of Architecture in Wroclaw is home to permanent exhibitions of art nouveau pieces, elements of mediaeval and modern architecture and the largest collection of stained glass in Poland. Showcasing numerous items recovered from damage during the Second World War, as well as a collection of manuscripts and drawings, the Museum of Architecture is an unusually comprehensive institution with numerous hidden gems and unexpected finds.
One of the first high-rise buildings in the city, the former Central Post Office of Wroclaw was built in 1929 and today houses the unique Museum of Post and Telecommunications. If you want to know how people communicated before the era of the Internet and mobile phones, visit the six exhibitions of the museum, among which are the fascinating History of Polish Post, a graphically stunning collection of Polish stamps, as well as a radio and TV exhibit. Old telephones, mailboxes, early telegram machines, uniforms and early computers are all displayed here, offering a valuable insight into an era gone-by.