Museums and galleries
From the times of the Temple of Sybilla, the first museum in Poland created in Puławy, some 200 years have passed. Today’s museums have become increasingly very modern places with interactive facilities, which enlighten us about our world; they intrigue and can even provoke laughter. They are often established as a result of someone’s passion, some person so interested in the subject that he or she wanted to pass on this passion.
In the remarkable Museum of the Warsaw Rising the horror of those days is amplified by the sounds of the planes dropping bombs and the explosion of shells. The visitor to the museum can ‘call’ an insurgent, who will tell them their story; he pushes himself through the sewers; he tears off the pages of a calendar documenting the days of the Rising. In the Museum of Papermaking in Duszniki-Zdroj anyone can drain off the paper mass on a riddle then put it into the press to obtain their own sheet of paper-mache.
Museums lead us along many, different trails. Biographical museum with the lives of people known only perhaps from encyclopedias: Nicolaus Copernicus (Frombork), Nikifor (Krynica), Kornel Makuszynski (Zakopane) or Stanislaw Wyspianski (Krakow).
Ethnographical museums can revive forgotten customs, often in a practical manner, for example in the Museum of the Mazovian region in Sierpc clay pots are still manufactured, butter is churned by hand, carpets are woven on a loom, and during the harvest the wheat is stacked in sheafs in the fields and then threshed with flail.
Museums of industry, such as the Museum of the Textile Industry in Lodz, the Museum of Copper in Legnica or the Railway Museum in Jaworzyna Slaska are particularly fascinating. The latter will be appreciated particularly by steam train enthusiasts who will find several dozen elderly wagons and an impressive collection of locomotives in the museum.
Next to the very important National Museum, there are small, private museums established by those passionate about certain subjects. The Museum of Arms and Weapons in Swidnica was born out of the passion of Stanislaw Gabrys, a retired locksmith. From dolls, toy cars and other varied toys collected by Henryk Tomaszewski, the legendary founder of the Wroclaw Mime Theatre, the Museum of Toys was created. A small, funny Museum of Socrealism in Poznan recalls how street carbonated water vending machines must have looked like, and teaches the art of writing Party speeches.