A marvellous day at the National Museum in Warsaw

Poland has a remarkable artistic heritage. The National Museum of Warsaw is the National Museum of Poland and is home to many masterpieces. It has a huge collection and has works from the ancient past to the modern world.

Visiting a museum in any city is a wonderful way to experience a journey through history. Not only are museums a great place to visit in any weather they are a great learning experience for singles, couples and families as well. You can easily whittle away a morning, or an afternoon at the National Museum in Warsaw.

Why visit the museum in Warsaw

The National Museum in Warsaw contains a collection of European art, as well as many ancient works from Ancient Egypt and other ancient civilisations. There are 7 permanent galleries, including the Faras Gallery, the Gallery of Medieval Art, Old European Painting, the Gallery of 19th Century Art, 20th and 21st Century Art, Decorative Art and the Gallery of Ancient Art.

To put it into context, the National Museum in Warsaw is home to approximately 11,000 works of art and 800,000 artefacts. 

History of the Museum

The National Museum in Warsaw was established in the 1860s. It became the National Museum of Poland in the 1930s and this involved consolidating many state-owned collections into one new building.

National Museum in Warsaw the Gallery of 19th Century Art © City of Warsaw 1
The Gallery of 19th Century Art © City of Warsaw

During the German siege of Warsaw, the Museum was damaged and was later looted by the invaders. Many of the plundered works were given as presents to leading figures in the occupation administration that rules Poland from 1939-1944.

After the war, most of the collection was recovered, however, to this day there remain some missing pieces. 

An Overview of the Collection

There are many works of famous European painters in the museum which comprises a rich collection from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century. Unusually, the paintings are arranged thematically. Religious art is particularly well-represented in the museum’s Old European art collection, which has paintings by Pinturicchio, among others.

There are valuable works by Renaissance masters such as Botticelli and Tintoretto and by Flemish and German masters such as Cranach the Elder. The museum is also home to later masters such as Van Dyck and Rembrandt.

There is a noteworthy collection of 19th Century French painters, including Ingres which is a real highlight. Naturally, the museum has many works by leading Polish artists such as Aleksander Gierymski and Tamara de Lempicka.

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Famous Paintings in the National Museum

The National Museum in Warsaw also has a remarkable collection of ancient art and artefacts. Its collection of Ancient Art and Early Christian art is of global importance, for example, the frescoes from the Nubian Christian cathedral in Faras and Classical vases. There is also a noteworthy collection of Chinese art and Ancient Egyptian art. 

Warsaw Stańczyk by Jan Matejko (1862)

Stańczyk is a painting by Polish artist Jan Matejko, completed in 1862. The Polish painting depicts a famous court jester named Stańczyk, who lived during the reign of King Sigismund I of Poland.

In the painting, Stańczyk is shown sitting alone in a room, with a sad and contemplative expression. This is Jan Matejko’s most famous piece of art.

Warsaw National Museum Stanczyk

Jewess with Oranges by Aleksander Gierymski (1880–1881)

Gierymski was a painter of Polish descent, a representative of Realism, and a precursor of Polish impressionism. This painting was looted by the Nazi army in Germany-occupied Poland during the Second World War.

Warsaw national Museum Jewess with oranges

This painting mysteriously appeared in an antique market in Germany, after which The Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage began negotiations to bring the picture back to Poland.

It depicts a poor Jewish woman, who is immortalised in another Gierymski painting called Jewess with Lemons. She has a tired look and is carrying two big baskets with oranges that contrast the gloomy and grey Warsaw day. 

In the Arbour by Aleksander Gierymski (1882)

A Polish realist and impressionist painter, Gierymski spent a part of his painting career in the Italian capital. This painting depicts a scene of an 18th-century gathering, taking place in a gazebo filled with light coming from behind. Scenes like this allowed Gierymski to play with light and colours. 

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Oedipus and Antigone by Antoni Brodowski (1828)

Oedipus and Antigone is a painting by Polish artist Antoni Brodowski, completed in 1828. It depicts a scene from Greek mythology in which Oedipus, the former king of Thebes, is accompanied by his daughter Antigone as they wander in exile. Oedipus is shown as a blind and aged man, holding onto his daughter for support, while Antigone carries a basket of food. 

Warsaw national Museum Oedipus and Antigone

View of Warsaw from the Terrace of the Royal Castle by Bernardo Bellotto (1773)

Bellotto was an Italian painter and printmaker whose style was characterised by elaborate representation of architectural and natural vistas, and by the specific quality of lighting.

Warsaw National Museum View of Warsaw from the Terrace of the Royal Castle

Bellotto spent 16 years in Warsaw as a court painter to King Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski for whom he painted numerous views of the Polish capital and its environs for the Royal Castle.

Breton Woman Sitting at the Seashore by Paul Sérusier (1895)

Sérusier was a pioneer of abstract art and a true inspiration for the avant-garde Nabis movement, synthetism, and cloisonne. This French painter depicts a woman sitting on the seashore of the small town of Huelgoat in Brittany. Sérusier sought undiscovered traditions and was interested in traditional customs and beliefs.

Warsaw national Museum Breton woman sitting on the seashore

Antibes – Morning by Paul Signac (1914)

Paul Signac was a French neo-impressionist painter, who heavily influenced the development of the pointillist style. In September of 1913, he rented a house at Antibes in the region of southeastern France. The many scenes of the Antibes port were usually framed looking landward from out at sea and offered a picturesque view of the lighthouse. 

Warsaw national Museum Antibes – Morning

Choice Between Youth and Wealth by Jan Steen (1661-1663)

Jan Steen was a painter of the Dutch Golden Age and one of the leading genre painters of the 17th century. This painting depicts a young girl surrounded by an older, wealthier man offering her a ring on the left, and a younger man on her right.

Warsaw National Museum Choice between youth and wealth

The scene of two different men seducing a young girl is being watched by an elderly woman, presumably her own mother, on the right side of the painting.

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National Museum of Poland

The National Museum of Poland is a must-visit attraction when visiting Warsaw, containing an impressive collection of Western art, alongside the premier collection of Polish masterpiece paintings anywhere in the world.

In addition to its permanent collection, the National Museum of Poland regularly hosts temporary exhibitions, showcasing various themes and artists from both Poland and abroad.

The Museum plays a vital role in preserving, promoting, and celebrating Polish heritage and works of Polish artistic expression. Through its diverse collection, it offers visitors to Poland a comprehensive view of the country’s artistic and cultural evolution through painting and sculpture.

Places to stay in Warsaw

Picking the perfect place to stay in Warsaw is one of the most important things. When planning a trip to Warsaw you can choose from hostels all the way to 5-star hotels. you will be spoiled for choice on your trip to Warsaw and the National Museum in Warsaw.

Planning a trip to Warsaw: Here are the best areas to stay in

Here’s a FAQ section about the National Museum in Warsaw:

There are some frequently asked questions about the Museum of Warsaw. It is fantastic to have the answers well before you visit the museum to make sure you can plan the best day out.

Q: What is the National Museum in Warsaw?

A: The National Museum in Warsaw is one of the largest and most significant museums in Poland. It houses a vast collection of artworks and historical artefacts, with a focus on Polish art and culture.

Q: Where is the National Museum located?

A: The museum is located in Warsaw, the capital city of Poland. Its address is Aleje Jerozolimskie 3, 00-495 Warsaw.

Q: What are the opening hours of the National Museum?

A: The museum is typically open from Tuesday to Sunday, with varying opening hours. It is closed on Mondays. Visitors are advised to check the official website or contact the museum directly for the most up-to-date information on opening hours.

Q: Is there an admission fee to enter the National Museum in Warsaw?

A: Yes, there is an admission fee to enter the National Museum. However, there are also discounted tickets available for students, seniors, and other eligible groups. Free admission may be offered on specific days or during certain events, so it’s worth checking the museum’s website for such information.

Q: Can I take photographs inside the museum?

A: Photography is generally permitted in the museum, but it may be restricted in certain areas or for specific exhibitions. Flash photography and tripods are usually not allowed. It’s best to inquire with the museum staff or refer to any signage regarding photography rules.

Q: Are there guided tours available?

A: Yes, the National Museum offers guided tours for individuals and groups. These tours provide insightful information about the collections and exhibitions. Private guided tours may also be available upon request.

Q: Does the museum have facilities for visitors with disabilities?

A: Yes, the museum strives to be accessible to all visitors. It offers wheelchair access, elevators, and accessible restrooms. Additionally, some exhibitions may have tactile elements or audio descriptions for visually impaired visitors. It’s advisable to contact the museum in advance to ensure specific accessibility needs are accommodated.

Q: Are there dining facilities or a café inside the museum?

A: Yes, the National Museum has a café where visitors can enjoy refreshments, snacks, or light meals. It’s a convenient place to take a break during your visit.

Q: Is there a museum shop?

A: Yes, the National Museum has a museum shop where visitors can find a variety of books, catalogues, art prints, souvenirs, and other items related to the museum’s collections and exhibitions.

Warsaw, the capital of Poland, is a city steeped in history and culture, and its museums offer a captivating journey through time. Among the myriad of museums, literary enthusiasts will find a special treat in the form of literary museums especially, The Adam Mickiewicz Museum of Literature.

The POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, for instance, beautifully recounts the rich tapestry of Jewish history in Poland. Another gem is the Fryderyk Chopin Museum, celebrating the life and works of the renowned composer.

These museums not only showcase the country’s literary and artistic heritage but also offer a glimpse into the soul of Warsaw itself, a city that has inspired countless writers and artists over the centuries.

The cover image is National Museum in Warsaw_photo Joanna Wiśniewska © City of Warsaw, pictures of the artwork used from www.muza.mobilems.pl

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Author Bio: Mark Wyld

Mark Wyld is a Father, husband, traveller, and writer at Poland Travel Expert and other blogs. I have accumulated a wealth of experience over multiple visits to Poland. Thanks to our friends in Poland, we stay connected to the nation’s pulse, ensuring that our content is up to date with our first-hand experience. The information on this website is backed by genuine expertise.