I visited the Museum of Life under Communism (Muzeum Życia w PRL) on the day of my 33rd birthday. It turned out I’m old enough to have my childhood showcased in a museum. Polish People’s Republic was the official name of Poland from 1952 to 1989. I was born a few years before this era ended, but the exhibits displayed in the museum were part of my life for years and years. Every three steps I stopped and exclaimed ‘it’s exacty as it was in my home!’.

For quite some time now retro design, furniture, art, cars and clothes from the era of Polish People’s Republic have been objects of desire once more. Nostalgia is very much on trend so many things I knew in my childhood came back to fashion, either unchanged or in a modernized version. But this era was not only about the everyday objects. Those were turbulent times when Poland was not a sovereign State, and was functioning under the control of the USSR. Times when the communist authorities censored society using police terror. It’s very good that a museum was created to show, mainly to young people today, what life was like in the era of communism, because nowadays the school’s history program covers no more than 5% of knowledge on this subject. And that’s in Poland. I don’t know what the state of knowledge is abroad, so it’s worth mentioning that the museum is well prepared for english speaking visitors. They have descriptions in english and a fully translated website.

The only museum of communism in Warsaw

The museum in this version is brand new. Before it used to be called the “Charm of the PRL” Museum and it was located in Praga district. It’s the only museum showcasing everyday objects from the communist era. As they claim on their website, the aim of the museum is to create a unique space which would provide an authentic background to discuss this recent but at the same time already distant era. And this purpose have not changed, even though the location did.

Currently the museum is located in a very fitting spot. And that’s not only because it’s convinient for me, as I’ve been living right next to it since 1986. The location is fitting because it’s on Constitution Square (Plac Konstytucji) in the center of MDM (Marszałkowska Dzielnica Mieszkaniowa), which is a social realist urban project. Personally, I remember the place where the museum is located now, when it served a different purpose – it used to be Burger King, one of the first fast food restaurants opened in Poland. This one opened in 1992. Now, when you enter the museum you’ll be greated by ladies dressed in old-school ‘janitor’ uniforms. They informed us that the museum is not yet ready. We were able to visit it still, bt some exhibitions were incomplete and the cafe was not opened. However we did pay less for entrance because of it. I’m told that by now everthing is ready and open, so you’ll be able to experience the museum as it was designed to be.


Retro design

As I mentioned before, there are many objects available to view in the museum, that I remeber from my childhood home. I felt really nostalgic when I noticed the Unitra radio called Lana, the Zelmer Predom hoover, the oldchool hairdryer, Polsport skiis and my favourite Visolvit! There aren’t that many exhibits there (it might have changed by now, as I mentioned above), but they enable you to feel the atmosphere of the era. What’s important is that apart form the everyday objects there’s also some historic information that you might need if you’re not that familiar with the history of Poland. Plus it’s always good to refresh your memory.



I think the space of the museum os well-organised. Retro packaging, art and smaller objects are displayed on the walls giving a Wes Anderson style retro feeling. They’re actually well-planned out flaylays, only they’re vertical and placed on walls. There’s also a small fashion exhibition as well as a spot where you can take a look at an oldchool motorbike and a famous Fiat 126p car. You wouldn’t believe how many people fit inside that thing. There’s also a separate room where a typical apartment is layed out. It’s worth noticing how small the space is. It really was like that. It’s amazing how many things you can fit and how much you can do in such a space when you have to. It really did feel like home for me. The other room is a cinema where you can chill out watching old propaganda short films.



A trip down memory lane

I highly recommend a visit in Museum of Commusim. It doesn’t matter how old you are and how much you know about Polish history. It’s a space where you can hear people exclaiming ‘I had that’ pointing at different objects, exactly as I did, and see younger visitors looking at the unfamiliar stuff, trying to figure out what even is that. The museum is not big, so you won’t need much time to check it all out. It’s open everyday, but the opening hours differ depending on the day of the week, so it’s best if you just check out their website HERE. Ticket costs 18 złoty (4 euro) for an adult and 12 złoty for a child (3 euro).