Discover the turbulent and multicultural history of Silesia, as well as Poland and Europe, in this beautiful, modern, post-industrial space. Be dazzled by the beautiful architecture and the sheer scope of this impressive cultural center that spans 6,000 square meters of exhibition space. The main part of the Silesian Museum complex was designed by the Austrian studio Riegler Riewe Architekten from Graz and is a seven-story building. Three underground levels are devoted to collections of works of art that represent what is important to the region.
In addition to being made up of glass cubes, the museum makes use of the 19th century brick buildings of a former coal mine. The elevator-accessible 40-meter tall tower that used to be part of the coal pit now provides panoramic views of Katowice and is visible from the city center. The entire mine complex closed in 1999, after operating for 176 years and hauling over 120 million tonnes of coal.
The main entrance to the permanent exhibitions is in the largest of the glass buildings. Descending underground, you'll be awestruck by the interiors. The spacious galleries, despite being underground, enjoy an abundance of natural light. The giant glass buildings above let the light in, illuminating the space. The first three permanent exhibitions are art galleries and are subtitled in Polish, German, and English. Start your tour in the Gallery of Polish Art (1800 - 1945), which houses a collection of paintings by Polish and Silesian masters including Jan Matejko, Stanisław Wyspiański, Olga Boznański and Józef Mehoffer. Cross over into the Gallery of Polish Art for works after 1945, taking in modern and conceptual art, including the works of artists such as Tadeusz Kantor, Zdzisław Beksiński, and Grupa Łódź Kaliska. Next, you can enjoy the Gallery of Non-professional Art. Non-professional art, otherwise known as "outsider art," has had a strong presence in Silesia since the industrial revolution. Other exhibitions in this huge complex include a small gallery of Silesian Sacred Art, an exhibition which documents the history of costumes, scenery, lighting, and staging in European Theatre, and a historical exhibition of Upper Silesia through the ages.
An impressive modern facility
The museum also hosts a number of temporary and visiting archaeological, ethnographic, historical, and photographic exhibitions. Making your way up to the main entrance (at level -2), you'll find a well-stocked gift shop that sells a fantastic selection of Silesian products, which make for ideal gifts and souvenirs. There's also a massive library and the stylish Moodro cafe, selling drinks and snacks. This magnificent museum is constantly expanding and is a must-see when staying near the Upper Silesian capital.