Culture Shock: Museums & Galleries Reopen! | Warsaw Insider
Warsaw Insider
Yet even those that remain closed have responded to the Covid-19 crisis by upping their digital offer to present a panoply of oral histories,... Culture Shock: Museums & Galleries Reopen!

In accordance with government regulations, May 4th marks the day on which cultural institutions such as museums and galleries can reopen and whilst some, such as the Royal Castle, have done just that, others are waiting longer until they are in a position to ensure the safety of visitors during this era of social distancing.

Culture Shock: Museums & Galleries Reopen! Culture Shock: Museums & Galleries Reopen!

Yet even those that remain closed have responded to the Covid-19 crisis by upping their digital offer to present a panoply of oral histories, virtual walks, online collections, live discussions and educational classes. Join us to find out what awaits the culturally inclined.

Car Museum (Otrębusy)
Home to over 300 vehicles, displays include a 1930s Polish-produced Buick, WWII trucks and tanks, a Ford Thunderbird and a Buick Skylark. From behind the Iron Curtain, car boffins will go bananas over the Russian-made Volgas, Wałęsa’s bullet-proof Volvo, a ZIS 110 Cabriolet once used to carry Yuri Gagarin, Jaruzelski’s Peugeot 604 and Gierek’s Cadillac Fleetwood. The random layout, oily smells, cobwebbed corners and randomly assembled junk add to the sense of treading somewhere totally off-the-wall.
Current status: Open!

Chopin Museum
Dedicated to the country’s most famous composer, look to the museum’s website to receive a comprehensive lesson on his life before making your way to Facebook and You Tube for video tours and live piano recitals.
Current status: As a pioneer of the inter-active approach, the museum will remain closed until further notice, however, their sister branch at Żelazowa Wola (Chopin’s birthplace) will open as of May 7th.

Copernicus Science Centre
You won’t have the chance to experience an earthquake, walk on the moon, look at the world through the eyes of a snake or discover if your partner’s a good liar (pleasures that would have awaited had you physically visited), but their FB channel does contain not just virtual walks but, also, weekly shows live from their planetarium as well as online science experiments, etc.
Current status: Almost entirely reliant on interaction, there’s no official word yet on when the center will officially reopen.

Dollhouse Museum
Intricate, dainty and delicate in their beauty, these are not the tacky Barbie houses one imagines, rather spectacular creations that are a paean to craftsmanship. Even more so, they serve as a fascinating glimpse into past, distant times: acting as what the owner describes as a “historical freezeframe”, the houses and their habitants are a microscopic insight into everything from the culture and customs of yore to the architecture and fashion. Dating from as far back as 200-years, and sourced from countries as afar afield as the USA and Thailand, the exhibits appeal as much to adults as they do to kids.
Current status: Closed till further notice.

Dom Spotkań z Historią
The History Meeting House wins points for small but frequently excellent exhibitions that cover topics such as ‘rebuilding Warsaw’, ‘Socialist Realist architecture’ and other areas that explore the city’s recent history. Closed for the time being, their facebook is a mine of videos and curios.
Current status: Closed until further notice.

Ethnographic Museum
Considerably revamped to meet the demands and attention-spans of the 21st century sightseer, the Ethnographic Museum is a visual pleasure that showcases colorful costumes, fabrics and ceramics from Poland and beyond. And those assuming an ethnographic museums lack punch and dynamism are in for a surprise: exhibitions are brilliant in their scope, wit and quirkiness and have included explorations of the Disco Polo genre, Hungarian erotica, iconic streetwear, etc.
Current status: Closed until further notice.

Katyń Museum
This museum commemorates the murder of 21,000 Polish officers by the Soviets in the spring of 1940. Beyond its quite staggering architectural merit, the museum has done a stunning job of collecting and presenting artifacts relating to the slaughter.
Current status: Awaiting clarification.

Miniature Park
An absolute Insider fave! Magnificently detailed 1:25 scale models of Warsaw’s vanished, pre-war architectural treasures make this a stand-out little secret. Here, landmarks such as Saski Palace, the ‘summer theater’ and Żelazna Brama have been lovingly brought back from the dead in astonishing fashion with the detail almost staggering in its precision.
Current status: Statement on reopening to be delivered soon.

Museum of Praga
The Praga Museum tells the story of the area with such charm and simplicity that it manages to leave an unlikely impression that’s as punchy as that of the big institutions. Star billing goes to a restored Jewish prayer room and the Flying Carpet: an exhibit festooned with various trinkets and treasures once available for purchase from local pavement traders.
Current status: Awaiting clarification.

National Museum in Warsaw
Browse the entire collection at and look out for numerous Polish-language initiatives such as kids workshops, podcasts and Thursday evening curatorial debates. Famed for its collection of Dutch and Flemish masters, it’s also the final word in Polish art with all the greats represented – inc. Matejko, Witkiewicz and other such stars of domestic culture. For more contemporary-minded visitors, the ace card was revealed at the end of 2017 with the opening of the Gallery of Polish Design. Offering a full 360 view of Polish 20th century applied arts, it’s an aesthetic joy featuring everything from iconic PRL era wall units and tulip chairs to kitschy toys and gizmos.
Current status: Statement due imminently.

Polish Vodka Museum
The Polish Vodka Museum features five thematic rooms that do a slick and entertaining job of documenting the national tipple. Highpoints number a smart collection of salvaged bottles and an interactive room in which visitors learn can test their knowledge on a quiz machine and strap on some trippy goggles to experience the effects of being completely sloshed.
Current status: Open from May 5th.

Royal Łazienki
Online primary school lessons, digitally archived art, curatorial puzzles and an interactive walk through the summer residence of King Stanisław August are among the attractions that await those that trawl this comprehensive website.
Current status: The Palace on the Island (ground floor), the White House (ground floor) and the Museum of Hunting and Riding (temporary exhibition room) will open from May 5th and the Old Orangery and Royal Sculpture Gallery from May 8th.

The Heritage Interpretation Center
This small venue tells the complex story of Old Town’s reconstruction: if the first section about Warsaw’s physical elimination is poignant, then the others do a fabulous job of sharing the optimism and alacrity that followed.
Current status: Closed until further notice.

Neon Museum
Playing a key role in the government’s attempts to fuse socialist ideology with consumerism, the campaign to ‘neon-ize’ Poland saw gloomy cities still bearing the scars of war boldly gleam once more under lights designed and produced by many of the leading artisans of the time.

Salvaged from the scrapheap (in many instances, literally), this museum houses several dozen neons that once lit up the capital and beyond. Beautiful in every respect, these renovated signs make for Warsaw’s coolest attraction: Instagram them now! (well, maybe wait until Friday)
Current status: Reopening May 8th.

Museum of Life Under Communism
A deeply personal insight into the former system by allowing visitors to view what Communism meant to the everyday person. Here, rifle and rummage through a room mocked-up to resemble a typical household apartment, watch propaganda films, peer inside a phone box, paw at vintage keep-fit gear or covet the ladies fashions of the time.

Detailed in its captions, witty in its presentation and comprehensive in its content, it is a place where normal items such as aftershave bottles, postcards, clothing and crude household appliances are allowed to shine on a totem and tell their own story. A haven of trinkets and collectibles, its small size belies its utter magic.
Current status: Open!!!

Museum of Warsaw
Telling the story of Warsaw in a non-linear style that relies mainly on (often bizarre) objects, the museum’s offer is overwhelming yet rewarding. Accompanied with hugely detailed texts, flick through these on their website, or their Facebook for regularly updated (Polish language) videos and web meets.
Current status: no official word on reopening.

Composed of eight galleries, this architectural marvel covers different stages of local Jewish history, from the middle ages to the present day. Highlights of this museum include a staggeringly beautiful replica of the ceiling of Gwoździec synagogue, and a ‘remake’ of a typical inter-war Jewish Warsaw street.

That it was named the European Museum of the Year in 2016 such much for its ambitions to focus on more than the Holocaust alone. Polin’s online offer includes podcasts, readings, discussions, educational workshops, online radio and curatorial walks conducted live on Facebook and YouTube.
Current status: no statement yet on their reopening date.

Rising Museum
When it comes to the definitive story of the insurgency, the Warsaw Rising Museum leaves no stone unturned. If the sheer informational overload can often be daunting, it remains the most important museum in the capital, and quite arguably the country.

Points of interest are rife and include a life-size replica of a B-24 Liberator plane as well as a claustrophobic ‘sewage tunnel’ through which visitors squeeze to get an idea of the kind of conditions combatants once faced. Though occasionally hard to navigate, the website contains spoken testimonies and other archive material. Their facebook, meanwhile, presents a plethora of videos, walks and talks.
Current status: Closed until further notice

Royal Castle
Online, highlights include numerous videos that take you through the gardens and lavishly restored 18th century royal apartments, though as of today you’ll also be able to enjoy that in person. Highlights include the lavishly restored 18th century royal apartments with 22 paintings by Canaletto, the Senators’ Chamber in which the Constitution of the Third of May was signed, the biggest collection of oriental rugs in Europe and two remarkable Rembrandt paintings.
Current status: open!

Train Museum
Inside, find 200 scale models of locomotives and steam engines, some beautifully detailed model villages and all kinds of train related ephemera: clocks, timetables, uniforms, etc. Outside is where the real anoraks head though, namely to clamber over fifty trains and carriages in various stages of life. Top billing goes to a 1942 German armored artillery train, and the walnut-clad personal wagon once used by Poland’s first post-war leader, Bolesław Bierut.
Current status: closed until further notice, instead, take a virtual walk by clicking HERE.

Wilanów Palace
Often cited as being the Polish Versailles, first visit the website to enjoy the in-depth insight it provides into the history of this imperial palace before touring the chambers and ballrooms online by clicking HERE.
Current status: Wilanów’s lavish gardens are back open, while a decision is expected soon on the actual museum and palace.

Zachęta Gallery
Few have done more to engage the public than Warsaw’s premier contemporary gallery. Aside from presenting their complete archive online, search them on Facebook for information concerning their kids workshops, webinars and Saturday art walks conducted in English.
Current status: The gallery remains closed until further notice

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