With a rich cultural history and a budding abundance of contemporary art, Poland is rife with diverse artistic venues sure to please any visitor. The ideals of cultural diversity, innovation, inclusivity, and preservation are especially embodied in the plurality of museums, galleries and even Krakow’s street art.
The cultural experience in this historic city is akin to an artistic feast, filling travelers to the brim. Art lovers seeking ancient, international, contemporary, or any other art genre can take part in the cornucopia which Krakow has to offer. We prepared for you a guide to the artistic, both traditional and progressive, side of this medieval city.
Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern Art
National Museum in Krakow
The National Museum in Krakow is both the oldest and largest national museum in the country. It includes ten branches and about 900,000 exhibits in its collection, spanning across 12 buildings.
Recently, in a move particularly noteworthy to admirers of Renaissance art, the museum subsumed the Princes Czartoryski Museum, including such works as da Vinci’s “Lady with an Ermine”. The National Museum also hosts a multitude of other ancient, medieval, and early modern works in its permanent and temporary exhibits.
Manggha Center of Japanese Art and Technology
Functioning as both a museum and cultural center, the Manggha Center of Japanese Art and Technology seeks to promote an interdisciplinary approach to art.
Although it focuses on the visual arts, the museum’s scope also includes theater, philosophy, film, literature, and many other aspects of Japanese culture. From ukiyo-e woodblock prints to robotic workshops for children, one can expect an eclectic experience with depth and diversity sure to enrich any visitor. The center’s interactive emphasis makes it a popular site even for those new to Japanese art.
International Culture Center (MCK)
The International Culture Center seeks to facilitate intercultural dialogue and broadly protect cultural heritage, predominantly that of Central Europe.
Currently, the center is exhibiting the works of Croatian sculptor and architect, Ivan Meštrović. His works have been integral for communicating Croatian cultural diversity to Europe and the United States, embodying the values of the MCK.
In the center, visitors can expect an intimate and powerful global perspective.
Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCAK)
Though only active since 2010, MOCAK has emerged as a stronghold of contemporary art. Emphasizing post-war avant-garde and conceptual art, the museum seeks to educate visitors on the cultural and ethical value of contemporary works.
Featuring such artists as Marina Abramovic, Ai WeiWei, Reza Aramesh and Polish art personalities: Jonasz Stern, Leon Tarasewicz and Pawel Althamer, MOCAK hosts a range of exhibits confronting a wide range of topics such as gender, intercultural communication between Israel and Poland, and the role of art in society.
Visitors can also enjoy the museum’s cafe and bookshop between visiting exhibits and interactive art pieces.
Located right at the edge of Krakow’s Old Town the Bunker of Arts is known as Krakow’s bastion of contemporary works. The collection includes video media, photography, and interactive exhibits.
The museum also holds the international art project “Trauma & Revival,” a years-long project which expresses both Eastern and Western European post-war artistic experiences. Also featured are the works of Ines Doujak, Rupali Patil, and Justyna Medrala, among others.
Polish Cultural Heritage
The Palace of Arts
Seating the oldest Fine Arts Society in Central Europe within its Art Nouveau walls, Palace of Arts began with the intention of promoting Polish artists. Since its inauguration in 1901, the Palace of Arts has come to also house temporary exhibits of contemporary art from both Polish and international artists and one of the most vibrant Krakow’s museums.
The Palace of Arts is currently exhibiting the paintings of Juliusz Joniak, as well as a collection of photography from General Wladyslaw Klimczak, who played a prominent role in the independence of Poland.
The Poster Gallery in Krakow is a space for visitors to encounter some of Poland’s rich tradition in poster art. It is home to thousands of posters for film, music, literature, and more; further, it hosts exhibitions, organizes theme poster competitions, and produces a catalogue.
This is the perfect site for graphic art lovers looking to see rare and fascinating designs. Additionally, any visitor is sure to find a previously-unknown poster for their favorite film, book, and/or album.