About the museum

History. An Outline

The Poster Museum in Wilanów is the oldest institution of that kind in the world. In June 1966, on the day of the opening of the 1st International Poster Biennale, a coal stone was placed under the museum. But before the construction works started and before naming of Janina Fijałkowska the first curator of the Poster Museum, the collection of the future museum were housed for many years at the National Museum in Warsaw. A small collection of posters had been stored in the Engravings Department since before the 2nd World War; it took in Polish and foreign posters on equal standing with other graphic objects.
In 1953, around 500 posters that had survived the war were transferred from the Engravings Department to the Documentation Section, which just had been established.
In 1961 director of the National Museum in Warsaw, Prof. Stanisław Lorentz, brought to life (at Wilanów) the Poster Section of the Gallery of Contemporary Art. Probably by that time the first thoughts of the separate gallery, which would house poster exhibition were born.
The Poster Museum was ceremoniously opened on the day of the inauguration of the 2nd International Poster Biennial – on 4 June, 1968. It kicked off its activities with an exhibition of posters by then-recently deceased Wojciech Zamecznik, an outstanding Polish designer, and a display of works by the price-winners of the 1st International Poster Biennale.
    The building complex of the Poster Museum at Wilanów was perfectly harmonized with the surrounding palace structures, whose historical, preserved parts were fluidly incorporated into the modern architecture.
In 1993, because of the main exhibition of the International Poster Biennale was being moved here from the Zachęta Gallery, it was necessary to increase the exhibition space of the museum. With no chance of further extending the buildings or building new structures, it was decided to transform the former equipment storeroom into an additional gallery.
At present the museum collection contains of some 36.000 titles in the Section of Polish Posters and nearly 25.000 titles in the Section of Foreign Posters.
The world’s first poster museum is presently one of the National Museum in Warsaw’s most active divisions. Around ten exhibitions are being held here yearly and similar number of them are being prepared by the museum staff and exported to the other museums. At the moment the museum goes through the process of extensive organizational changes (similarly as the formula of this year’s 24th InternationalPoster Biennale) to keep up pace with changing world of graphic design.