The Museum of Life Under Communism (known as Muzeam Czar PRL) in Warsaw, Poland is a wonderful (albeit small) collection of artifacts that aim to depict just that; what life was like for the average citizen in the pro-communist People’s Republic of Poland (PRL).
For foreign visitors looking for insight the almost banal objects from teacups to bookshelves, really do bring to life what a home would have been like during the 40-year history of communist rule.
And of course, if you are a local that actually lived through the time, the museum acts a powerful trip down memory lane.
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Inside the Muzeam Czar PRL
The museum is housed within the top floor of an old, communist-era office building near the center of Warsaw. The robust yet bleak-looking exterior provides a suitable atmosphere from the off.
The collection inside is arranged in an interesting way. Each room of a house is represented, with all the relevant objects corresponding to the space.
Walk into the living room and you will find garish yellow walls, kitsch brown furniture, and vintage records playing on an old player.
In the kitchen are everyday products from the era; washing powder and soaps, tubs, and boxes with labeling only a native would recognize.
It is all displayed in a way that makes you think the owner has just popped out for a walk.
In one of the rooms, you can have a go at a children’s board game, or leaf through magazines from the time. While you’re taking a break, you can even buy a soda in an original 1960s glass bottle.
The museum was founded by Rafał and Marta Patla more than a decade ago. They have since expanded the venture by running historical tours of Warsaw in a vintage “Nysa 522” van.
Openly reliant on donated artifacts from members of the public, the museum is growing all the time with new materials.
It is very much a time capsule to an era in Polish history that is long gone, but in no way forgotten.
And for outsiders or the younger generations of Poles that have no experience of life under communist rule, the museum provides a fascinating hint at what it looked like.
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Where is Muzeam Czar PRL
- Address: os. Centrum E 1, 31-934 Kraków, Poland
- Admission Fee: Standard is 8 zł.
Good to know
The museum is a 15-minute walk from the Varshava Vskhodnya train station. However, if you are arriving from the city center we recommend you take tram no 22 to the Gocławska tram stop and walk from there.
Guided tours should be reserved in advance via the website if possible. That being said, all information is displayed in Polish and English.
The Neon Museum is just a 5-minute walk away and is worth checking out while you’re in the area.