The Museum of Art in Łódź is one of the oldest museums of modern art in the world. The museum was created as a result of an initiative by the very popular avant-garde artists of the “a.r” group which was active in Łódź in the 1920s and 1930s. Thanks to the enthusiasm and wide connections of Władysław Strzemiński, Katarzyna Kobro, Henryk Stażewski (the artists) and Julian Przyboś and Jan Brzękowski (the poets) the unique collection of contemporary art was gathered.
The support of municipal authorities (quite unusual in those times) and devotion of the “a.r.” members enabled such revolutionary collection to be exhibited at the Museum of History and Art at 1 Liberty Square in 1930. The collection has been consistently expanded since then. The Museum of Art owns the greatest collection of world art of the 20th and 21st century in Poland. After the Second World War, the museum was relocated to one of the Poznański palaces at 36 Więckowskiego Street. Unfortunately, due to lack of space, the whole unique collection could not be presented to the public.
This situation improved in 2008 when another branch of the Museum (MS2) was opened close to the Manufaktura complex in one of the modernized 19th century weaving plant. MS² enabled new opportunities of presentation of this interesting collection. The Museum’s website reads: “The Museum resigns from chronological order of presenting the works in favour of four themes, which are important both for contemporary culture and strongly present in the collection of the “a.r.” group. The themes, arranged in four notional triads, are the basis of organising the exhibition space. They are: “body, trauma, prosthesis”, “construction, utopia, politicization”, “eye, image, reality” and “object, fetish, phantasm”.
The building at Wieckowskiego Street was modernized as well and is now known as MS¹. The space is used to present temporary exhibitions, presenting performance art, organizing workshops and film screenings. The element connecting this place with the tradition of The Museum of Art is the Neoplastic Room, designed in 1948 by Władysław Strzemiński as a space for presenting the activities of the “a.r.” group and of Constructivist artists.
The third branch of the Museum of Art is the Herbst Palace at 72 Przędzalniana Street (in the Priest’s Mill area). The palace and a beautiful garden belonged to the family of Łódź manufacturers of the 19th and 20th century. Visitors can see how the Herbst family lived as the Palace as the interior was renovated and brought back to the original state from the 19th century. A lot of valuable old artifacts and furniture was placed into the exhibition as well. Additionally a gallery of Early Art is on display in the palace complex with paintings and drawings of known Polish artists such as: Jan Matejko, Piotr Michałowski, Aleksander Gierymski, Leon Wyczółkowski and Stanisław Wyspiański.
If you want to check out more on MS1, MS2 and The Herbst Palace, visit the museum’s website . The entrance to the Museum is free on Thursdays. On other days you can buy a single ticket or a combined ticket that will allow you to visit all of those three places.
Article: Marcin Staniszewski
Images: Archiwum Muzeum Sztuki w Łodzi