The richest cities in terms of art collections in Poland are Krakow and Warsaw. It is connected with their historical roles as the country’s capital cities.
Smaller art collections can also be found in Słupsk, Lidzbark Warmiński, Malbork, Olsztyn, Kwidzyn, Szczecin, Białystok, Opinogóra, Bydgoszcz, Oporów, Krośniewice, Nieborów, Kurnik, Rogalin, Gołuchów, Łódź, Radom, Puławy, Kozłówka, Lublin, Brzeg, Częstochowa, Kielce, Sandomierz, Baranów Sandomierski, Opole, Cieszyn, Pszczyna, Pieskowa Skała, Tarnów, Łańcut, Rzeszów, Przemyśl and Sanok.
The Wawel Royal Castle together with the Wawel Hill is one of the most historically and culturally significant places in Poland. Wawel was the seat of Polish rulers, their necropolis and the place where the history of Poland was shaped. One of the most important museums in Poland has been located here since 1930. The museum collects works of art historically or artistically related to Wawel, with Polish rulers, and great magnate collections. The museum collects paintings, prints, sculptures, fabrics, goldsmiths, militaria, porcelain and furniture. The chambers exhibit the famous tapestries of Zygmunt August and wonderful Italian Renaissance paintings from the Lanckoroński collection, and the Wawel collections of eastern art contain the most important and largest collection of tents in Europe.
Cloth Hall is a grand market hall built in 13th century in the middle of Krakow’s Main Market Square and successively extended in the next years. Apart from its commercial area on the ground floor, there is the department of the National Museum on the first floor. Currently, there are 4 galleries available for the visitors: Bacciarelli, Michałowski, Siemiradzki and Chełmoński parts. Visitors can also enter observation deck.
The Princes Czartoryski Museum is one of the oldest in the country. Its roots date back to the 1796 collection by Princess Izabela Czartoryska, however, the museum itself was opened in 1878. The museum focuses its scope to the history of European painting of 13th-18th centuries, European and Islamic art and crafts up to 19th century. The most famous, as well as most valuable, of the exhibits on the display is the painting of Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo da Vinci.
It is one of the most impressive aristocratic residences in Poland. The palace is situated about 2 h drive from Kraków (188 km). The residence is mainly famous for its furnished interiors and collection of horse carts. Łańcut interiors which haven’t been too much changed by the war experiences are considered to be the most beautiful in Poland. The palace is a home of many art pieces. Some of them were originally bought for Łańcut Palace and some were borrowed from other Polish museums. Apart from the palace, you have to reserve some time for a stroll in Łańcut Park which was designed in English style and orchid greenhouse with three various climate zones. Łańcut is the place that you really can’t miss.
The Wilanów Palace, together with its garden, is one of the most beautiful objects of its type in Poland. Baroque palace and the meticulously designed surrounding gardens, situated at the end of the Royal Road and built for the king John III Sobieski, are filled with Polish as well as European culture. Wilanów hosts many exhibitions and concerts, including the International Summer Early Music Academy. The Wilanów Palace also houses one Poland’s first ever museums, established in 1805.
It is situated at 3 Aleje Jerozolimskie Street in a Modernist building, erected in 1927-1938 (the east wing of the building is a headquarters of the Polish Army Museum). It is one of the biggest art museums in Poland and the biggest one in Warsaw. The exhibits of the museum include over 830 000 pieces of Polish and international art. Visitors will find here ancient pieces of art (Egyptian, Greek, Roman), Polish paintings from the 13th century up till current times, international paintings (Russian, German, Dutch, French, Italian), arts and crafts exhibits and numismatic collections. The National Museum is a must see site in Warsaw to experience original, extraordinary pieces of art that we know only from textbooks.
It is one of the largest and most important art museums in Poland. The National Museum in Wrocław has four branches: The Main Building, called the National Museum in Wrocław, the "Panorama Racławicka" Museum, the intimate Ethnographic Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in the Four Domes Pavilion, opened in June 2016. The collection of the National Museum in Wrocław numbers 200,000 artefacts representative for all the artistic disciplines, from mediaeval Silesian sculpture in stone and wood, Silesian, Polish and European painting, as well as contemporary and modernist sculpture, drawings and prints, to an extensive collection of historical artistic craftsmanship which spans the period from the Middle Ages up to the early 20th century, and finally an extensive library of books and documents.
The Cracow’s department of National Museum is the oldest national museum department in Poland. It was created in 1879 and nowadays it is the biggest museum in Poland taking into account the number of buildings (17), units (11) and exhibits (800 000). The specialties of the museum are Polish arts and culture. Every year the museum is visited by 600 000 guests. The main building of the museum at Aleja 3 Maja has 3 galleries “Weapons and Coulour in Poland”, artis and crafts; and Polish art in the 20th century.
Modern Art Museum MOCAK is situated at 4 Lipowa street, only 72 m from Schindler’s Factory Museum, as it is situated in the old halls of the factory. MOCAK was opened in 2011. Exhibitions of the museum concentrates on the newest modern art of the last 20 years. The context of the works of art in the museum is a post war avant-garde and conceptual art. Exhibition area is 4 thousand square meters, and the whole building has 10 thousand square meters. The museum shows works of artist from all around the world. The permanent exhibition is located at -1 floor and at the second floor there are temporary galleries. B building shows temporary, individual artists exhibitions. In the museum you will also find a library, a book shop, a café and a conservation workshop. MOCAK is a very interesting place for all modern art lovers.
The Ujazdowski Castle Center for Contemporary Art is one of the most important cultural institutions in Poland, a place of creation and presentation of contemporary art in all its manifestations. The extensive program includes exhibitions, film screenings, educational workshops, lectures and seminars. Publishing activities are carried out here, there is a cinema and an artistic residency program. The Ujazdowski Castle Center for Contemporary Art is located in a baroque castle, in a park on the Royal Route.
Summing up, although its difficult history, with numerous wars when works of art has been stolen, Poland has interesting art museums with precious exhibits really worth seeing. Kraków and Warsaw are the richest cites in terms of art pieces on display, so they are key destinations for all art lovers. Still, all over Poland there are smaller museum that display world famous works of art and are worth recommending. If you consider yourself true art lover, you cannot omit Poland during your European journeys. Just contact ITS Poland DMC and start to plan your tour with us!
Author: Agnieszka Szwedzińska