WHY KRAKOW IS THE PLACE TO BE FOR ART LOVERS
As a self-professed art lover, I always try to get the most out of my travels in terms of art. What's the point of exploring a new place without learning about its creative side?
That was the kind of mindset with which I visited Krakow for the first time. But I wasn't expecting much – I was invited there by an old friend who relocated to Krakow to finish her degree.
Needless to say, Krakow surprised me. And I kept coming back throughout the year because the city turned out to be very rich in cultural offerings all year round. Here I am living in Krakow.
Here's what makes Krakow into a perfect city for art lovers.
MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow
The museum was launched only in 2010, but it has already become a key location on Krakow's cultural map.
Now, I don't like contemporary art very much, but the collections at MOCAK left me feeling that I've been missing out.
The museum shows the latest international art. The idea is to present art created during the last two decades in the context of the post-war movements.
But that's not everything.
The creators of MOCAK wanted to make sure that their collection also highlights the cognitive and ethical value of art – as well as its relation to our every-day reality.
And that's what impressed me so much about that place.
I've never been to a museum of art of that focus. MOCAK offers a refreshing perspective on contemporary art by placing it in that unique context.
The directors of MOCAK declare that one of the challenges they intend to tackle it reducing the prejudice against recent art. Well, they certainly managed to convince me.
Ulica Street Art Festival
Another surprise about Krakow was the Ulica Street Art Festival.
One of the oldest street festivals in Central Europe, ever since 1988 it has been holding a solid spot in Krakow's calendar of cultural events.
To be honest, I've never been to a festival of that sort. The range of activities and presentations included in these couple of days is breathtaking. You can see plenty of traditional theater productions and performance art in a single day.
The interesting thing about the festival is that some works of art are ephemeral and last only a couple of hours, while others grace the urban landscape in a more permanent way.
The vast majority of productions are shown on Krakow's main square (Rynek Glowny). Thanks to the size of the venue, it's transformed into one of the largest audience spaces on the continent.
The organizers of the festival promote all kinds of art, allowing it to seep into the urban space and be encountered by incidental passers-by. You don't have to guess that some of my most interesting walks around the city happened during that festival.
Netia Off Camera Festival
Once a year Krakow transforms into the city of cinema.
Netia Off Camera is an internationally-recognised festival of independent cinema. And it's pretty amazing – during these couple of days, people watch movies all over the place, even on tenement roofs!
I had a chance to catch a couple of movies shown during the festival and the experience was amazing. Festival organizers invite directors, producers and actors who would then participate in Q&A sessions and other events.
And you can be sure that the festival attracts a flock of amazing filmmakers who compete for the main competition prize which is one of the highest in the world.
The Night of Museums
During one day every year, Krakow's many museums and cultural center's open to visitors through the night.
The Night of Museums is a cultural event that swept many of the world capitals during the last decade. But don't even get me started on the crowds I've seen in Paris and Milan.
Krakow's edition is rather busy, but the many special events and openings make the waiting worthwhile. Organised since 2004, the Night of Museums is a smashing success every year.
Visiting the Underground Museum at midnight is an experience I'll never forget. Make sure to check which museums ask visitors to book in advance!
Krakow Film Festival
I had no idea Krakow was so dedicated to cinema.
Did you know that the Krakow Film Festival is actually one of the oldest events of the sort in Europe? Organised since 1961, the festival shows short film forms, documentary, and animation.
I happen to love documentaries, so I couldn't help myself and bought a couple of tickets. As festival documentaries go, some were better, others worse (or very, very strange), but on the whole I enjoyed my time on the festival because it was impeccably organized and featured plenty of extra events scattered among screenings.
One of the must-go cultural events in Krakow if you find yourself nearby in late May or early June.
If the above isn't enough for art lovers to visit Krakow this summer, I don't know what is. The city welcomes and embraces all types of art, so you fellow travellers can be sure to have an amazing experience regardless of your tastes and preferences. Be careful though, I’ve already stayed here for more than just one summer.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jules Bukovsky is an independent traveller passionate about budget travelling, art and literature. A year ago she moved to Poland where she loves to explore lesser-known natural sites, eat shameless mountains of local pierogi and get her tongue around Polish words.
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