Warsaw Uprising Museum: A (Tasteful) History of Slaughter

Posted by - January 19, 2015 | Category: Escapes, Europe, Poland

Warsaw Uprising -- We want to be free and owen this freedom to nobody

War is not sexy, and museums dedicated to it even less so. All things considered, It’s hard to pull off a good war museum, if not downright impossible. It’s got to be interesting. It’s got to be interactive. And it’s  got to do its job — honour the fallen, while informing and enlightening the masses. But perhaps above all this, its got to avoid being boring.

The Warsaw Uprising Museum (Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego) succeeds in all of these.

Warsaw Uprising Museum, Poland -- exterior

I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t know much about the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. Okay, I’ll be honest, I pretty much knew nothing at all. I knew where Warsaw is of course, and I knew it suffered terribly during the war, but something that happened 70 years ago is not really top of mind for most. I’m an ignorant Westerner, and I felt kinda shitty about that as I walked in.

Warsaw Uprising Museum, Poland-078

As far as museums go, the Warsaw Uprising Museum is one of the better thought out ones I’ve been to.

Warsaw Uprising Museum, Poland displays

It’s huge, it’s interactive, and it’s gritty.

Warsaw Uprising Museum, Poland-068

Not all war museums are created equal, and that’s pretty evident at the Warsaw Uprising Museum.

Warsaw Uprising Museum, Poland-053

There are no medals in dusty cases.

Warsaw Uprising Museum, Poland-112

No yellowing pamphlets behind scratched glass.

Warsaw Uprising Museum, Poland-137

Instead, cobblestone floors snake through narrow hallways and dark cubbyholes, giving a sense of being on the streets of Warsaw during the period.

Warsaw Uprising Museum, Poland-142

Interaction is the norm rather than the exception.

Warsaw Uprising Museum, Poland-065

There are even a couple of replicas of the sewers that the insurgents used (thankfully empty of what’s normally found in sewers.)

Warsaw Uprising Museum, Poland-057

There’s also a scavenger hunt set up for kids to make the experience more interactive for them.

Warsaw Uprising Museum, Poland-060

So what was the Warsaw Uprising? During the summer of 1944 the Germans were retreating, Poland’s Soviet allies were advancing, so the Polish resistance movement saw an opportunity to take back Warsaw from the Nazis. All did not go as planned. The Soviets stopped short of the city, the Germans regrouped and what ensued was basically wholesale slaughter of Warsaw.

Warsaw Uprising Museum, Poland -- Cinema with a film reconstructed of newsreels

Warsaw Uprising Museum, Poland -- Hangar: a hall containing a full-size B-24 Liberator

The Memorial Wall in Freedom Park behind the Warsaw Uprising Museum with the names of those that perished during the uprising is both somber and sobering.

Warsaw Rising Museum, Poland -- Freedom park: Memorial Wall

And the street art inspired by the uprising is a nice colourful touch.

Warsaw Rising Museum, Poland -- Freedom park: street art inspired by the Warsaw Uprising

Warsaw Rising Museum, Poland -- replica of Kubuś armoured car

I was surprised by how much time I could’ve spent there, and for a war museum — or any museum for that matter —  I think that’s exactly what they’d like to hear.

What’s the best museum you’ve ever been to?


Warsaw Uprising Museum Information

Address: Grybowska 79, Warsaw, Poland

Phone: +48 22 539 79 05

Opening Hours

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday 08.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m.,
  • Thursday 08.00 a.m. – 8.00 p.m.,
  • Saturday and Sunday 10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m.,
  • the Museum is closed on Tuesdays

Admission Price

  • Individual tickets: 14.00 PLN; children, students, and seniors: 10.00 PLN; group with guide: 7.00 PLN per person
  • “The City of Ruins” film: 2.00 PLN
  • Admission is free of charge on Sundays

*(Note that the official name is the Warsaw Rising Museum, even though most guidebooks refer to it as the Warsaw Uprising Museum)

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50 comments - add one
  1. The last image is really neat. Love the camouflage.

    Wow….this is a tough one to answer but I’m answering with what may seem bizarre but to me it was the oldest looking, dirtiest, most disturbing, but hands down the best AND most genuine museum I’ve been too. Tol Sleng (spelling) in Cambodia.

    The scene was horrific in many ways but I’ve yet to visit a museum – or physical space – which captured what happened. I cried, and I also saw the power of the human spirit.

    Thanks for sharing the post!


    1. Ryan, I’ve been to Tuol Sleng as well and I’d have to agree with you — it’s definitely the most disturbing museum I’ve ever been to.

      On a lighter note — congratulations on your wedding! 🙂

  2. Wow it looks like an awesome museum to visit. I’m a fan of museums as i’m a bit of a history buff but I really like being able to interact with the exhibits so it looks like this would be right up my street!

  3. I went here a few years ago and learned SO much. I agree, it’s somewhere to spend some time. Having been in there, it gave me a completely different perspective on the city. Just how Warsaw has managed to bounce back is utterly, utterly inspiring.

  4. I think museums like this are so important to visit. During travels, I know it is so easy to enjoy the happier moments, but spending an afternoon at a place like this is so very important. It is up to us to learn about these moments, to remember these stories, so they don’t happen again (even though the world is basically crap right now).

    1. I agree Diana, it’s a lot easier to go shopping or ziplining, but making the effort to visit places like this only increases your gratitude that you CAN go shopping or ziplining, at least in the luckier parts of the world.

  5. I’m glad you addressed the idea that “war is not sexy”. I think my favourite museum so far has been the Royal Treasury in Vienna. Though light in context, it was fascinating to compare the differences between the wealth of the classes

  6. First off, love your comments section. It very cool and unique. It makes me want to leave a comment.

    The War Museum sounds very interesting and like you said, its setup would make it interesting for young and old alike.

    I honestly don’t visit a lot of museums but I would definitely make the time to see this one!

  7. I axtually knew what the Warsaw uprising was about . I have seen this museum I think on either History or Discovery cahannel and it looks fascinating. I cant imagine the suffering in Europe at that time, but luckily hve spoken to several survivors which is almost impossible to do nowdays as they themselves are neary gone and the memories that go with them.
    As far as most interesting museum I have been to…. my choices are limited as I am not well traveled so perhaps Living History farms which is a working set of farms from different time periods .

  8. This does seem like a very well-laid out museum, one full of lots of information. What a great way to learn more about history.
    We traveled to Warsaw in search of Mindy’s family history using a document that her great uncle had written just after he was liberated from Auschwitz. He lived in the Warsaw ghetto, along with Mindy’s grandmother. It was an amazing personal trip, but we never went to the museum. I think we will go on our next trip to Poland. Thank you for this very informative post.

  9. You’re so right, museums (war ones especially) have to go above and beyond just to avoid being boring, and I think interactive displays are a huge step in the right direction. This is the least stuffy war museum I think I’ve seen.

    I really enjoyed the Panama Canal Museum at the Miraflores Locks. I think the subject matter was already really fascinating but they had lots of great interactive exhibits which made it actually…fun!

  10. i never visited this type of museum before this is completely different and i am waiting for my holidays to visit there and thanks for sharing it.

  11. This Warsaw war museum looks like a museum worth visiting… even if it challenges the soul. A museum we visited recently that challenged us emotionally was the Mummy Museum in Guanajuato, Mexico – it displays over 100 human mummies (including one of a woman who experts say was buried alive after being wrongly pronounced dead from cholera). We ended up writing a post on this museum…

  12. I have never heard of the Warsaw Uprising. fascinating bit of World War II history. I’ve been doing a lot of WWII stuff with my kids because that is their history topic at school this term. BTW I love this website formatting, very cool. I am drawn back to it because the style sticks in my head and makes it memorable.

  13. I am a polish and I saw another article about Poland on your blog. Do you like Poland? If I can to propose visiting warsaw ,for me the best of Warsaw is ‘Łazienki’ and ‘Old Town’

  14. I am notorious for spending a max of 1 hour in museums and just zipping through, bored and ready to keep moving. This one might actually hold my interest! My favorite “museum” is still from my home town, the St. Louis City Museum. I take everyone there and no one has complained. You would love it! http://www.citymuseum.org/

  15. So glad I visited Poland, I’m totally in love with every part of this country! I’m not much of a history buff (the last time I visited, I actually stayed in a Roomorama apartment nearby this musuem but didn’t bother visiting at all haha!) BUT your post has convinced me otherwise. I’m going to try seeing this on the next trip I’ve planned to Warsaw, the exhibits look pretty interesting. Nice post!

  16. Hi Raymond, yes it is marvellous and I have also covered Poland to to bottom – the good and the “historically” terrible.
    See you again next year at the RWMF.
    Cheers, Graham.

  17. Thanks for the great advice. We’ll be visiting this in the cold Polish winter later this month. I’m not a big one for museums with “yellowing papers” either, so this should be great. Love the design, too!

  18. That section dedicated to the Soviet-era looks like it was very impressive. Great photos, BTW!

    As for the best museums I have been to date:

    (1.) The Louvre (Paris, France)
    (2.) The Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh, PA)
    (3.) The World of Coca-Cola
    (4.) Hockey Hall of Fame (Toronto, Canada)

    I am not really into art, but I was very impressed by the exhibits displayed at the Louvre and the Andy Warhol Museum. I was mainly impressed by the level of satire displayed in Warhol’s works and can’t believe he became a “pop star” as a result.

    The World of Coca-Cola was awesome just because you could see how far Coca-Cola has come since its humble beginnings in Atlanta back in 1886. Plus, you can sample over 100+ different Coke brands from around the world on the second floor!

    The Hockey Hall of Fame is up there simply because I am Canadian, and hockey is in our cultural blood. However, I would love to see the FIFA Museum that is opening up in Switzerland, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, as music and soccer are also a couple of passions of mine!

  19. Ray this is absolutely crazy. I have spent cumulatively about 9-10 months in Warsaw in my life, including renting a flat in the city and yet I never even heard about this place. I am almost tempted to whackpack it now thanks to your post. Safe travels. Jonny


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