Gray Sundays in Warsaw: Neon Museum

Yep, it was gray and cold this Sunday. So, checking my bucket list, we visited the Neon Museum. Because who doesn’t love neon?

The museum looks like an old warehouse because that is what it is.
The museum looks like an old factory because that is what it is–an former munitions factory, among other things.

This small, but very cool museum is located in the Soho Factory complex, “an avant-garde space for culture and business,” modeled after loft-y areas in cities like London or New York.

Soho is, not coincidentally, in the Praga District of Warsaw, a scruffy area that, thanks to its proximity to swankier districts just across the river, is the new Ground Zero for street art, organic food, and man-buns.

Amazing street art.
Amazing street art.

There’s a reason Warsaw has a neon museum. After World War II, the Soviet-backed government decided that neon would be a great way to make Warsaw look prosperous and modern. Neon was therefore mandated as an integral part of socialist realist architecture in the Cold War era, and became an iconic part of the Warsaw streetscape.

Another reason for the neon: Warsaw is so gray and dark, it needs all the extra light it can get!

After the fall of communism, many neon signs were destroyed because they were seen as emblematic of the former regime (though there are still quite a few to be seen around town). The founders of the Neon Museum have made it a mission to rescue as many of these old signs as possible and to display them in this space.

The museum lobby, with vintage furniture, a small gift shop, and lots of information to read in Polish and English.

The museum is entirely bilingual, and provides a lot of information about the history of neon in Warsaw as well as about many individual signs that are displayed. Followed with a slice of apple pie at our favorite Vienna-style kawarnia, it made for a very nice gray Sunday in Warsaw.

Random signs are stacked up everywhere.
Theater sign.
The syrena, or mermaid, is the symbol of Warsaw. I guess this mermaid swam up the river, since Warsaw is nowhere near the sea…
Love this flower shop sign.
A coffee shop sign.
Chinese restaurant.
Puss in Boots advertises a shoe shop. My absolute favorite sign!
Puss in Boots advertises a shoe shop. My absolute favorite!

One comment

  1. I can see why the Puss In Boots would draw your applause! I would have never pegged it as a post WWII Soviet promoted Cold War Relic – not sure where I would peg it from, though. Truly unique!


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