The culture vulture’s guide to museums in Bydgoszcz

Taking home Olympic medals isn’t the only thing the Polish town of Bydgoszcz is good for. A surprising hotbed for museums, culture and history, each and every cobblestone has an interesting story to tell. Boasting a whole island dedicated to showcasing the city’s past, present and future, Bydgoszcz is a culture vulture’s paradise. Here’s six of the best museums on offer in the city. 

1. Bydgoszcz Canal Museum – Nowogrodzka 3

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Celebrating the waterway that connects the city to Berlin, the Canal Museum is located inside Bydgoszcz’s Secondary School No. 3. Featuring an array of exhibits inside, the  museum showcases paintings, sailors uniforms, old photographs and other canal-related items. Founded in 2006 by Sebastian Malinowski, the museum began as a space to show his collection of photos and artefacts related to the city’s canals. Wander through the halls housing an ancient rowing boat dating back to the 1920s, a model of the canal, Mill Island and the locks. A picture-perfect escape from the busy city streets, the museum sits on the banks of the Old Canal, right next to the pretty Planty Park. 

2. Museum of Soap and History of Dirt – Dluga 3

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An entire museum devoted to preserving the history of soap and hygiene paying tribute to the city’s ties with the first production of Persil laundry soap, the space takes visitors on a walk through the history of cleanliness, dirt and of course, soap. As you enter the museum, you’ll be asked to wash your hands in a tub before proceeding to the workshop for a demonstration on the art of soap making. Get lost in the plethora of interactive exhibitions and enjoy the historic surroundings of the building itself. Open all week between 10am and 6pm, this unique experience is definitely one of the best museums in Bydgoszcz. 

3. BWA – Municipal Art Gallery of Bydgoszcz – Gdanska 20

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Established in 1949, the gallery is the largest and most important of its kind in the city. Spread across two floors, the 1970 building features numerous large halls with multimedia rooms and smaller exhibition spaces. Presenting the works of both international and local Polish artists, the gallery makes an effort to highlight that of the artists on its doorstep in Bydgoszcz. Apart from hanging up masterpieces, the space also regularly hosts lectures, film screenings, discussion panels and the much anticipated Nights of Performance, an annual event showcasing the best of the Polish arts scene. A real gem, this is a must-see when visiting the city. 

4. Exploseum – ul. Alfreda Nobla

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Located close to the Bydgoszcz Industrial and Technology Park, Bydgoszcz Forest and Zachem Chemical Factory, Exploseum is a museum highlighting the history of military technology in the city. Connected by corridors and tunnels, the museum building was part of the unit that served the Third Reich’s military technology development during the war. In the heart of a seven building complex, wander round the production line of the nitro-glycerine plant, explore the tunnels, discover interesting ruins and enter secret wartime buildings. Truly unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, the Exploseum museum is one to add to your list of what to do in Bydgoszcz. 

5. Leon Wyczolkowski District Museum – Gdanska 4

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Opened in 1923, the district museum houses an array of historical items spanning across archaeology, history and ethnography. Named after one of the leading painters of the Young Poland movement, the museum is located near Poor Clares’ Church in the middle of downtown. The show-space is set across a complex of different heritage buildings all boasting a unique aspect of Bydgoszcz’s past. Spend the afternoon exploring one of the best museums in the city and fully immerse yourself in the culture for an experience you’re unlikely to ever forget. 

6. Museum of Waterworks – Filarecka 2

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Found on Las Gdanski water intake in the district of Szwederowo, the Museum of Waterworks is the first of its kind in Poland. Here, explore the age-old questions of why we need water, how it runs from our taps and what it really is. As well as the museum, the iconic city Water Tower plays an important role in the modern waterworks system of Bydgoszcz and is an impressive sight all on its own with its gothic façade. Stroll round the exhibitions dedicated to local waterworks and sewers and leaf through the collection of photographs, documents and artefacts recovered over the years. Complete your visit with a spectacular view from the lookout terrace at the top of the tower and watch as day turns to night over the city of Bydgoszcz down below.


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- Lucy Norris