Historical clothing, contemporary painting, vintage objects and avant-garde installations. The Poznań map of art has it all – from spacious institutions to small galleries where you are sure to lose your track of time. Here comes our subjective guide to Poznań-based cultural and art institutions offering unique aesthetic experiences.
Zamek's monumental interior houses visual art, theatre, cinematography, music, literature, and cuisine. Under one roof you can enjoy a theatrical performance in the Theater of Animation, see a movie in Kino Pałacowe, listen to a concert, buy yourself some books in Bookowski, and contemplate currently exhibited artworks -- all after (or before) sipping coffee in Świetlica cafe. Zamek sees (and spells) art with a capital "A" only. Art means temporary exhibitions – such as the iconic "Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Polish context" or the currently held "Entering the new dimension. Sophie Taeuber-Arp's art". The latter – devoted to a genius artist who creates colorful, abstract, and geometrical canvas – has been designed by Paweł Grobelny – one of the most distinguished Polish designers – a fact that speaks to how valuable art is to the people at Zamek.
Time traveling at its best! Entering this place wearing a trendy, flowy dress will have you feel peculiar to say the least. This small museum's exhibition features costumes and accessories from the 19th century that come from a private collection of the owner, Anna Moryto. The ever-growing collection consists of more than 50 historical pieces, including gems such as a black silk mourning dress, a wedding dress adorned with subtle orange fruit made of wax and leather walking shoes with a characteristic sole. Informal and formal clothing comes with accessories that reflect their historical context – pieces of lingerie and family magazines from the turn of the 20th century with recipes, advice columns, colorful drawings, and cut-out inserts that allowed you to sew a dress on your own. To get the most of your visit, book a guided tour and listen to interesting accounts of the history of fashion.
ul. Wyspiańskiego 41/3
Literally and figuratively: a house of art. Łazarz-based EGO gallery is located in a beautiful tenement house apartment close to Arena – Poznań's modernist gem. Simple, white interior has been repeatedly filled with Polish contemporary art presented in a broader, international context. As for temporary exhibitions, you can expect the work of both established and emerging artists. "Falochron" – the latest temporary exhibition – compiled the work of local artists such as Zbigniew Libera, Zdzisław Beksiński, and Zofia Rydet. Exhibitions aside, EGO engages in a range of other commercial, publishing, educational, and advisory activities; also, you can purchase selected works by Polish artists: Leon Tarasewicz, Włodzimierz Jan Zakrzewski or Marta Deskur, among others.
ul. Wodna 13/4
This place lives and breathes art and the avant garde. A window on the world, the gallery was founded by Agata and Carlos Rodríguez and found its home close to the Old Market Square. Don't expect stiff exhibitions – this art-filled white cube located just a walking distance from PURO is all about dynamism and action. Rodríguez Gallery promotes contemporary Polish and international art and has been continuously co-operating with Poznań-based Franciszek Orłowski, Jimena Kato from Peru and Dalila Gonçalves from Portugal to name a few. Agata and Carlos's belief that "a gallery should be a lively, inspiring, and culture-stimulating space where all kinds of ideas can come together" is the reason why their gallery holds not only exhibitions, but also discussion panels, lectures, and workshops.
Museum of Applied Arts
Góra Przemysła 1
The everyday can be special and beautiful! Or so proves the permanent exhibition devoted entirely to applied arts – the Poland's only! Collections include 2000 objects such as furniture, ceramic, glass, and metal items, as well as costumes, jewellry, and textiles that together form an overview of applied arts from the Middle Ages until now. Apart from the permanent exhibition, the museum seeks inspiration and provokes discussions in a variety of ways. For example, they recently hosted the 2nd Artistic Textile Biennial with guests from Poland and abroad and keep organizing "Design Icons" events with a focus on icons such as the Barbie doll. Surely, one of the most interesting initiatives organized by the Museum of Applied Arts is the upcoming "Museum meditations" series focused on mindfulness. Each meeting will be devoted to a selected art piece from the collection that is somehow linked to spiritual development. Art-therapy, anyone?
Museum of Pharmacy
Al. Marcinkowskiego 11
This one is an absolute marvel! One of the most interesting museums in Poznań is hidden on the second floor of a historic tenement house close to the Old Market Square. On a quest to find it, you may feel a bit like Sherlock Holmes because before you arrive at the entrance – with a recognizable plate with the Rod of Asclepius – you have to cross two sections of a courtyard. The Museum of Pharmacy was founded in 1989 as a result of the Polish Pharmaceutical Society's initiative. Its shelves boast historical pharmaceutical utensils made of wood, white and colored glass, stoneware and porcelain. Old bottles hide mysterious liquids and countless wooden drawers contain a myriad of old prescriptions. Most items date back to the turn of the 20th century, but there is a selection of older ones from the end of the 17th century. I wonder if you can spot a cardboard medicine box from a pharmacy in Głogów that goes back to June 1890.
The National Museum in Poznań
Aleje Marcinkowskiego 9
One of the largest collections of paintings in Poland is held in the heart of the city and takes up two joint buildings: a historical one – built in 1904 according to Karl Hinckeldeyn's design – and a modern one designed by Marian Trzaska and completed in early 1970s. Apart from a permanent exhibition of ancient art as well as Polish and international artworks from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, the National Museum hosts temporary exhibits, including monographic exhibitions such as "A-geometry. Hans Arp and Poland" and collective ones, e.g. the latest – and spectacular! – "Illness as a source of art". The main building with its must-see collection of fine art is key yet not the only branch of the museum. We especially recommend going to the newly-renovated and re-opened Museum of Musical Instruments in the Old Market Square where you can enjoy 16 thematic collections. Music for the eyes!
The Arsenal Municipal Gallery
Stary Rynek 6
Having overcome some difficulties, Arsenal is back with its top-notch program promoting contemporary and engaged art. You enter the gallery from the street and often unintentionally since it is located in the heart of the Old Market Square and offers free admission. You walk right into a small bookstore with a selection of publications on art and culture as well as Arsenal's own publications, including catalogues. Exhibitions change on a regular basis and cover two spaces: a smaller one on the ground floor and a spacious one on the first floor (it's worth looking up and marvel at the beautiful architecture of the ceiling). Each exhibition attracts with its appealing, curated program. To give you a gist, "Polish Women, Patriots, Rebels" accompanied the Congress of Women held in Poznań, while "Tale of Novorossiya" revolved around political and social issues in Ukraine.
Porta Posnania ICHOT
ul. Gdańska 2
As it turns out, a building housing an institution can be a work of art in itself. With its minimalistic shape, ICHOT– Interactive Heritage Centre of Cathedral Island – sits gracefully on the bank of the Cybina river, right next to Cathedral Island. The building was designed by architects from the Kraków-based studio Ad Artis who were, in turn, nominated for the most prestiguous European award for architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award. The people behind ICHOT familiarize visitors with a thousand years of Polish history in a very approachable manner and in keeping with the idea of ICHOT as "the third space" where you can rest, relax, and meet with friends. There are workshops, events, exhibitions, city games, picnics, and riverside dancing for the young and the old. After all, the third space is for everyone.
Św. Marcin 75
You've probably heard about Maciej Krajewski, a Poznań flaneur. Known for always having a camera in his hand, Maciej is a founder of Stowarzyszenie Łazęga Poznańska, a society located in a beautiful, intensely green historic pavilion – once photographer Witold Czarnecki's atelier – hidden in the courtyard of one of the tenement houses on św. Marcin street. Łazęga's cultural activity began with photography exhibitions yet quickly transformed into a much broader culture-making initiative. Locals gather in the atelier for movie screenings, small classical music gigs, theatrical performances and meetings around literature and artists. Every now and then Łazęga initiates discussions on art and the state of architecture in the city. One of the most memorable initiative was a series of "walks with the trees of the Old Town" with cameras. If you'd like to listen to stories about Poznań – its past and present – told from a variety of perspectives, you're in the right place.
text: Marika Krystman
head photo: The National Museum in Poznań