Located in the Praga district, the Neon Museum is a small but beautiful collection from the golden age of Warsaw lighting. As much an archive and art project as a museum.
The Neon Museum
An unpromising looking factory building opens up into a Pandora’s box of gorgeous shop signs and advertisements from the golden age of Warsaw’s neon lighting, as well as from from beyond. There’s a dream-like nostalgia from these multicoloured fonts and icons bent in glass. The Neon Museum is definitely worth the trip across the river. Tours of the Praga district generally include the museum as part of the journey.
Dedicated to the preservation of Cold War era neon signs and graphics, co-founders David Hill and Ilona Karwinska set up the museum in 2005. This is a serious undertaking with full preservation and documentation of works and the artists responsible for “neonization”, an official Khrushchev policy for brightening up the night-time city. Stepping into the Neon Museum gives you a ghostly glimpse of a largely vanished world. The hazy colours and bold typography are testament to an era of invention and style.
What To See In The Neon Museum
Entrance to the Neon Museum
The Neon Museum is relatively small but contains over 200 multi-coloured signage, each with accompanying information and photographs of it in its original location. There is also a short, entertaining film on the history of neon signs.
Some of the signs are from Polish institutions, such as LOT and PKP, although most of them advertised no brand indications of what happened at that location, such as “Dancing”. There are plenty of jolly animals, a Pooh-like bear, a Puss in Boots, and an elephant in a cocktail. And look out for the neon Syrenka – the Warsaw mermaid – rising from the pages of a book.
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How To Visit The Neon Museum
Pathway to the Neon Museum
Catch the 22 tram (in the direction of Wiatraczna) from Dw. Centralny 07 to Gocławska 04. It’s 10 stops and should take about 17 minutes. Cross the road towards the Vincent Boulangerie Patisserie and turn right into Gocławska. Continue along this street for about 5 minutes, crossing Mińska, and carrying on ahead. You should see a sign for the museum and pass through some gates into a car park area – see image above. Continue to the end of this alleyway and you’ll find the museum on your left at the very end.
Neon Museum address: Soho Factory, ul. Minska 25 Building 55, Warsaw 03-808 Poland
The Neon Museum is open as follows:
- Mon / Wed-Sat 12noon-6pm
- Tue Closed
- Sun 11am-5pm
Entry tickets cost 16zł (concessions 13zł) and 45-minute guided tours in English are available for groups of 10 people at 150zł for the group, plus individual entry tickets. Tickets are available on the door. See the official Neon Museum website for details.
Praga District: Across the Vistula river lies the eastern district of Praga, often considered ‘Bohemian Warsaw’. The area is known for bars and nightlife, but it has other attractions, such as the Neon Museum and the Polish Vodka Museum. You’ll also find some of the city’s most unique accommodation, including Arthotel Stalowa 52, design LOFT 22, and Moxy Praga. For food, try the sustainable menu at Michelin listed hub.praga.
Tips For Visiting The Neon Museum
- Expect to spend 60-90 minutes if you watch the full documentary.
- There is no audioguide but guided tours are available, and some lucky people get expert knowledge from the museum director.
- The museum itself is accessible, although the areas immediately outside were a building site when I visited and so access to the building may be problematic.
- Smartphone photography is permitted but dedicated cameras are forbidden unless you apply for a licence in advance and re-use of images is strictly non-commercial.
- This is an excellent museum for children – but they’ll be tempted to touch the exhibits, so keep a close eye on them!
- There is no café at the museum, so you’ll need to stop off somewhere close either before or after.
- Some items are available, including the Neon Revolution book and some fetching coasters of museum favourites.
- Card payments are accepted.
- The toilet also includes some neon signs waiting to be repaired.
Where Is This Place Located?Find this location on the Warsaw Visit Google map:
- Open the Warsaw Visit map
- Click on a marker and it will give you the name of the landmark, with a brief description and links for more information and directions. You can pan, scroll, and zoom around the map, or use the + or – buttons in the bottom left of the map to zoom in and out
- You will see the list of places on the left hand side, sorted by category. Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want
- Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
- Each category is on a different layer, which can be switched on and off. So you can just see the Hotel or Restaurant pins, for example
- If you are using the map on your phone, open the map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location
Map pins are color coded:
- YELLOW: Warsaw Sightseeing
- BLUE: Warsaw Hotels
- RED: Warsaw Places To Eat – Michelin restaurants are DARK RED
- ORANGE: Warsaw Nightlife
- PURPLE: Shopping In Warsaw
- GREEN: Warsaw Transportation