March 29, 2024

7 best museums in Poznań – a Walkative guide selection

Whether you find yourself caught in a rain shower or are simply eager to dive deeper into the layers of Poland's rich history and cultural heritage, Poznań's museums stand as gateways to the past, present, and future. This guide will navigate you through some of the most intriguing and must-visit museums in the city, ensuring that your visit to Poznań is filled with enriching experiences and unforgettable memories.

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1. Enigma Cipher Centre

Enigma

photo by Dominika Byglewska

This deeply interactive place explains in a fun way how to code and decode a cipher. It also tells the story of three students of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Rejewski, Różycki and Zygalski, who were chosen to participate in a course of cryptology. After that course they were hired by the Polish Cipher Bureau and started to work on recording Enigma, a coding machine used by the Nazis. Their research results handed to the British and French helped to end the Second World War earlier and saved millions of lives! If you want to feel for a moment like the famous cryptologists, visit Enigma Cipher Center. It is placed on the same spot as the Cipher Bureau working spaces once were, although the original building doesn’t exist anymore – it was destroyed during the Second World War. However, the one you are going to visit is also a historical place as well. It hosted the headquarters of the Polish United Workers’ Party, the one and only that we had during the communist times and later the Department of History of Adam Mickiewicz University. Check the availability of the tickets on the website or call them, since there are days when it gets pretty busy. To see it thoroughly, you need 2.5-3 hours. At the entrance you will get an audio guide available in Polish, English, German, Russian or Ukrainian that will explain the details of the exhibition.

2. Fort VII – Museum of Greater Poland Martyrs

Fort VII – Museum of Greater Poland Martyrs

Located on the outskirts of Poznań, this museum is dedicated to the times of the Nazi occupation during the II World War. Soon after attacking Poland, Nazi authorities decided to change the buildings of the largest Prussian fortification in the east into the first concentration camp in our country. Considered one of the toughest of them, it was nicknamed “the camp of bloody revenge” on intelligentsia of Greater Poland region, former participants in Greater Poland and Silesia uprisings and soon others, for instance the participants of secret organizations. It was so backbreaking that prisoners sent to other notorious concentration camps like Auschwitz, Gross-Rosen or Buchenwald were considered lucky. Sadly, it was also the place for testing gas chambers – hundreds of patients from Owińska Psychiatric Hospital and Psychiatric Clinic of Poznań University were killed here in October 1939. To commemorate this dark period in history, the Museum of Greater Poland Martyrs was created. Unfortunately, not every part of the exhibition was already translated into English but it is in the process. The exhibition is divided into two parts: one dedicated to the concentration camp and its prisoners while the other explains the details about fortification itself. To get to the Museum, catch the no 17 tram towards Ogrody and walk for around 20 minutes. As in most of the museums in Poznań, the entrance is free on Tuesdays, and the price of the regular ticket is just 6 PLN. If it’s a cold day, don’t forget to bring a scarf and a sweater – part of the exhibition is located outside and not every space has heating.

3. Applied Arts Museum

Applied Arts Museum

The one and only museum of such type in Poland presenting objects from everyday life starting from the Middle Ages. Inside you will find a lot of house decorations, cutlery, furniture. Arms lovers will be delighted to see some weapons (not only from Poland) and a horse harnessed with a saddle that probably comes from the battle under Vienna (that is pretty important for us because back then one of Polish rulers, Jan III Sobieski, stopped the Turkish expansion in Europe). On the top floor you can see the dresses of the noblemen from the past and even try them on! The ticket includes a visit to the panorama tower of the castle, from which you can see Old Town, Imperial District and Cathedral Island. Currently this is the highest point from which you can admire Poznań. After the visit, you will be richer not only in many pictures, but also in knowledge of many things, including for example what people ate for breakfast in the XVIIIth century. On Tuesdays and troghout November the entrance is free. If you’re a student under 26, don’t forget to mention it – there is a pretty big discount if you present your student ID.

4. National Museum – the main building at Aleje Marcinkowskiego

Applied Arts Museum

Built for the Prussians by the Prussians now, paradoxically, the museum hosts a vast collection of Polish art. Outstanding paintings by great artists such as Matejko, Boznańska or Wyspiański, as well as the biggest number of pieces by Jacek Malczewski, the most famous Polish symbolic painter will make you understand the culture of our country. Don’t be surprised when you see so-called coffin portraits –in the XVII and XVIIIth century it was very popular to celebrate the funerals of noblemen in a very pompous way. An artist was hired to create a realistic portrait of a deceased person and the ceremony could be started. Pompa funebris used to last from 2 to 4 days, celebrated by hundreds of guests. Music was played, poems were recited, parades were organized to honor the one who died and to show the victory of life over death. To prepare everybody for the inevitable end of life, some artists even wrote handbooks on good death. Such art and funerals were something very specific to Poland and Poznań is one of the best places to learn about it. Another section of the exhibit worth seeing is the collection of Spanish baroque art and the most valuable set of German paintings of the XIXth and XXth century. Don’t forget to take a look at Pourville beach, stolen and hidden for 10 years by a construction worker who claimed to have fallen in love with impressionists while working in France and couldn’t resist stealing the painting to keep it behind his wardrobe and take a look at it from time to time. If you are a fan of art, you can check other branches of the National Museum, for instance Rogalin Palace described by us here. The entrance is free on Tuesdays.

5. St. Martin’s Croissant Museum

St. Martin’s Croissant Museum

This private museum beloved by many visitors and locals alike gives a fun show explaining the production of our regional delight – Saint Martin croissant (read more about it here) and also explains a bit the local dialect. The show lasts 50 minutes, but you should arrive 10 minutes before the scheduled time of the spectacle to take a comfortable seat. During the visit you will get to try a piece of croissant. There are shows in English, depending on the season – in the summertime one time per day and in the spring, autumn and winter only on Saturdays and Sundays. All this is located in one of best-preserved tenement houses in the Old Town of Poznań, just opposite to the Old City Hall.

6. Porta Posnania

Porta Posnania

photo by Gosia Tylińska

First interactive interpretation center (that doesn’t want to be called a museum) in Poznań is a great place to understand the history of Cathedral Island and Poland. Despite the lack of exhibits, four rooms tell you all you need to know about important people such as the first rulers of our country and events crucial for the further development of Poznań. Porta Posnania was designed to prepare tourists for individual sightseeing of the Cathedral Island and is rather about storytelling than showing what was dug out here during archeological excavations. It tells the story of the beginning of the Polish state and the city of Poznań as well as the first Cathedral in Poland. The exhibition is accompanied by an audio guide available in Polish, English, German, Spanish, French, Czech, Ukrainian or Russian. There is also a route with narration adapted for children. The visit lasts for around 2 hours and we recommend going not only inside but also round the building to see how modern architecture fits into part of Prussian fortification and the nature of Cathedral Island.

7. Fotoplastykon Poznański

Fotoplastykon Poznański

This charming machine considered to be a movie precursor is maybe not enough to be called a museum although it’s definitely worth your visit! In around half an hour you can travel in time by watching 3D stereo photos and learning about Poznań. History of the International Fair of Poznań, Poznań in the breakthrough of XIXth and XXth century or Around the world with Paweł Edmund Strzelecki are just some of the topics of the photo shows. In the past this device, sometimes called Kaiser-Panorama, was very popular among Poznanians. However, we are not totally sure when it came to Poznań. There is some information about some Kaiser-Panorama that existed in Poznań at the beginning of the 20th century but earliest confirmed information says the device you can see in the Cultural Information Centre was amusing people right after the II World War. Sixty-five years before, in 1880, the first Kaiser-Pannorama ever was invented by a German entrepreneur August Fuhrmann. It allowed 25 people to watch photos at the same time. The device, renovated in 2014, you can visit in Poznań is one of few existing in Poland (the others can be found in Łódź and Warsaw, and in Muzeum Fabryka Emalia Oskara Schindlera in Kraków). Open from Monday to Saturday, for just 6 zł will entertain you and make you reminisce about the past.

Hope you enjoyed reading about our selection of the best museums in Poznań and will be encouraged to visit at least some of them!

Written for you by Zuza Michalska

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