Reopened (and re-branded) at the end of May, the Museum of Warsaw (formerly the Museum of the History of Warsaw), might have made a quieter splash than other recent-ish openings – for instance, Polin or the Chopin Museum – the early signs suggest that it’s long-term impact will be just as big.
Massively ambitious, the current exhibition is very much a work in progress and still just 35% complete. Even so, with over 7,000 objects already presented (the total collection consists of 300,000 items!), visitors will find enough to keep them busy for at least a couple of hours.
Arranged thematically, rather than chronologically, the interesting thing here is the museum’s refusal to bow to popular trends: lacking in multimedia gizmos, special effects and other modern irritants, rather than dumbing itself down the museum has gone for a smarter, traditional approach. Cherry-picked for their interest value, the objects themselves are compelling and often matched with detailed English-language descriptions.
Highlights, and there are many, include the Old Town’s original mermaid statue, a gallery dedicated to perspectives of Warsaw, not to mention rooms that focus on ‘souvenirs’, ‘postcards’ and ‘data’. The latter alone is more fascinating than it sounds, revealing curious factoids such as Warsaw’s first kebab joint, pizzeria and strip club.
Exhibition aside, just exploring the tenements that house the museum is a fascinating experience – short of hijacking a hot air balloon, the observation point offers the best view of the Rynek you’re likely to find.
A wonderful experience from start to finish, even the gift shop feels useful and considered. Sure to join the likes of Polin, Chopin, Rising and Copernicus as one of Warsaw’s top sights, here’s a museum that makes the city more complete.
Museum of Warsaw
Rynek Starego Miasto 28-42, website