The World War II Museum


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The World War II Museum was established thanks to the idea of creating an institution that would show World War II by connecting the viewing point and memories of Polish people with the experience of other nations of Europe.

The World War II Museum was appointed on November 26th 2008 and located in Gdansk. The museum’s building was designed by the “Kwadrat” architectural studio in Gdynia and located at Walowa street upon Motlawa, not far from the city’s historical centre. The museum was officially opened for the visitors on March 23rd 2017.

One of the main goals of the museum is to show the world the war experience of Poland and other countries of middle-eastern Europe, which in many ways is different and not familiar to western Europe and other non-European countries. The historical narration was mostly focused on the fate of people, societies and nations. Meanwhile, the military history is a narration about the lives of civilians, soldiers, occupational terror and such difficult events as human slaughter, standing against the occupant and the great policy. The aim of such a way to capture the subject is to show the uniqueness of the World War II experience which had civilians as most of the victims.

The World War II Museum building
The area holding the headquarters of the museum covers the surface of 1.7 hectares. It reaches the Raduna Channel at the west, and at the south it opens to the wide landscape of Motlawa.
The surface of the building is 26000 square meters. It is divided into three zones, which show the connections between past, present and future. These zones are: past (located underground), present (The outdoor area around the building) and the future (A tower, or a modern dominant) The ground area is shaped like a leaning prism. It has a triangle-shpaed basis and is 40.5 meters tall in the highest point. Inside the building you can find a library with a reading room, educational and conference rooms, and on the top floor – a café and a restaurant, where you can see the entire panorama of Gdansk.

The main exhibit of the World War II Museum
The heart of the museum is the main exhibit, which covers a surface of nearly 5000 square meters. That’s why it is considered one of the world’s biggest exhibits presented in historic museums. It is located 14 meters underground. It’s the story of the tragic experience of World War II, its genesis and consequences, its victims and culprits, heroes and ordinary people. It is supposed to bring a history lesson forbidden to forget.
The main exhibit is divided into three narration blocks: “The road to war”, The terror of war” and “The long shadow of war”. The exhibit introduces the visitors to the polish experience of war, entered into the wider context of Europe and the world. This exhibit is divided into 18 specifically themed sections, as shown in the order of the rooms in the exhibit.
There are about 2000 display units in the main exhibit, but you can also find about 240 multimedia stations, which allow the visitors to explore archive photos and movies, watch the witnesses tell about their experiences, get familiar with interactive maps presenting military battles or the changes in the country’s borders during World War II.
The main exhibit also includes rooms dedicated to everyday life during the war and the kids room.

“Time travel” – the kids exhibit
“Time travel” is a special part of the museum’s main exhibit dedicated to children under the age of 12. It is separated into three rooms, which are reconstructions of a Warsaw family in three different time periods: A few days after the war’s breakout, during the German occupation and right after the war’s end. The changing elements of the room’s interior show the political and social situation of the occupied and fighting country.

Apart of the exhibiting function, the museum will also be functioning as a centre of education, culture and science.

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