Krakow: Museum of Contemporary Art

Last weekend, Szymon and I have visited the museum of contemporary art in Krakow to celebrate my two years in Poland. The museum is located in the Podgorze district next to Schindler’s Factory. Today I will let you know what I really thought about the museum.

First of all a small disclaimer. The museum has permanent and temporary exhibitions. It might be that at the time you will be going they might have different temporary exhibitions.


When you first arrive at the museum the first art piece is already outside: A bicycle stall containing bikes which consist of metal frames and concrete wheels. This already makes my inner Dutchie happy.

We entered the museum and bought a ticket for 14pln per person. There is a cloakroom available as well. We headed to the exhibition hall. Since we arrived around 4 in the afternoon we only had time to visit a part of the collection (Building A only). We have spent a total of 3 hours in the museum.

The temporary exhibitions during our visit were:
Motherland in Art, until 30.09.2018
To absolute through the Abstract, until 23.09.2018
– Award of the Vordemberge-Gildewart Foundation 2018, until 23.09.2018
– Play within the Walls of the Academy, until 23.09.2018

And the permanent exhibitions:
MOCAK Collection
Outdoor Exhibits from the MOCAK Collection
Live Factory 2: Warhol by Lupa
– The Mieczyslaw Porebski Library

The exhibitions highlighted in bold are the ones we have visited.

Once we entered the exhibition hall we started off in the temporary exhibition: Motherland in Art. The first piece was very dominant in the room and for me, it looked like a forest, with the different shades of green and the texture of the material used.

After this piece, we continued and came to a part of the exhibition which was created with a slight sense of humor. We could see an empty picture frame with the title: Self-portrait. And  a Gnome with the following information:

Garden Gnome, 2010

“They copy our designs but their gnomes are very inferior. They crack when the first frost comes.”
Andreas Klein, Managing Director of Gnome-Power Ottenberg, Germany

“It’s true, our gnomes are of lower quality, but the German consumer doesn’t seem t care when the price is so much less. Frankly, you’d have to be a bit stupid to spend so much on a gnome.”
Krzystof Baczek, 32
Bricklayer turned gnome magnate. Nowa Sol, Poland.

This was for Szymon, who is Polish, and me a bit funny. Because it is in fact true. A lot of people do not mind if it is of a bit lower quality if the price is a lot better. But we could see more parts, in which the Germans were having a small role. And were being made fun of (Sorry for the german followers here).

Further down the gallery, I found a watercolor painting of flags with vegetables. The artist: Nikita Alexeev, did a very good job. The painting was very light colored and attractive. Due to the fact that the artist does not want to be associated with contemporary politics, all countries are displayed equally. For me, the funniest thing was that the Dutch Flag was drawn with a zucchini. Or the Polish one with a cucumber. I think as a Dutch person I would not associate the Netherlands with a zucchini, maybe earlier with kale or a carrot. To be honest I never thought about which vegetable should be associated with my home country. And I am still thinking about it.
Regarding Poland, I would more associate a cabbage with them, but a cucumber might be close to the pickled cucumber which is often served as an appetizer in polish restaurants.

After this exhibition, we headed one floor down. Here there was one more temporary exhibition: To absolute through the Abstract by Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart. The style of this kind of art is not my cup of tea, it is very abstract and very geometrical. A lot of basic colors are used. Don’t get me wrong I do not mind abstract, but I prefer organical shapes then. The artist of this exhibition was among other artistic movements a part of De Stijl – The Style, this was a Dutch artistic movement founded in Leiden, 1917. This is the same movement of which Mondrian, Huszar, and Oud were a part of. There were not a lot of paintings within this part of the exhibitions, It was a nice addition to the less abstract art on the first floor.

From this gallery, we walked to the other side and stopped in front of the permanent exhibition: Live Factory 2: Warhol by Lupa. Here we turned right, knowing we would pass this part again to see the last part of the exhibition. The piece itself was nice, very interactive. You could enter a rebuild bathroom and listen to a movie. Szymon, himself was quite curious about this part but felt as well a bit weird, because a movie was played of the artist which was completely naked. He liked the idea of the setup of a full room, which looked like a backstage room. There were a lot of personal pictures within this area and it seemed like that a lot of fun stuff could happen in a place like this.

On the right and left side of the Live Factory the MOCAK collection was located and a part was on a sub lower floor. This collection was nice, a lot of variations, but maybe for some parts could be too much for some Ethnic groups. For example a Marrocan carpet with build in lights which starts flashing corresponding to a played song. But also very deep drawings of skulls on which buildings were built. This I really felt connected to. The idea behind this piece was that everything that is built within the world is being built upon the bones of the ones before.

I believe there was only one art piece which I found really not done from my perspective. And this was an art piece in which the sentence: Arbeit Macht Frei, the word Arbeit was exchanged with Kunst – Kunst Macht Frei. With the explanation that work did not liberate us, so art will not either. For me, it was too much and just not done. Maybe even unbelievable that a piece like this was hanging maybe 300meters away from Schindler’s Factory. Hanging in Podgorze, which was the Jewish Ghetto during the Second World War. Maybe it is just me, maybe I am just too old and value the history too much. I do not know.

Overall, I enjoyed the museum. A lot of nice pieces and some of these pieces made my mind work. Maybe not because of the smartest reasons, such as which vegetable would I associate with the Netherlands. But we cannot have it all.

The museum is located close to Schindler’s Factory and definitely worth a visit if you are spending the whole day in the Podgorze district.

So the most important question of the day: Which vegetable do you associate with your home country? And why?



PS: We paid for our own entrances.
Sources: Quote is from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow, taken 14.07.2018.


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