For the history and culture lovers, local museums are often the highlight of their visit. Bielsko-Biała hosts several museums that offer an inside into local past, customs and art.
Museum of Bielsko-Biała (the Sułkowski’s Castle)
The centre of Bielsko-Biała is dominated by a large castle, which history dates back to the 14th century. Just like the city that grew around it, the castle has changed throughout the centuries, from a defence structure into a residence, from a gothic construction into an eclectic style building that is today. The castle moved from hand to hand of noble families, last being the Sułkowski family, who owned it until 1945. After World War II, it was taken over by the Polish State and a few years later opened as the Museum of Bielsko-Biała.
The permanent exhibition is divided into three parts – archeology, history and art. Neolithic weapons, items of clothing, pottery, coins and information about the medieval Bielsko and its castle are to be studied first. The historical part presents the relics from the 16th to 20th century. The ethnographic display, some memorabilia from the Sułkowski family, information about the development of guilds and the industries of Bielsko-Biala are core themes. Art is presented throughout the whole castle. Starting from the oldest 14th century statue of the Virgin Mary with Child and ending with numerous contemporary paintings.
The rooms on the ground floor of the castle are designated to hold temporary exhibitions.
Weaver’s House (Dom Tkacza)
The Weaver’s House is an original example of a wooden urban house from the 18th century that were quite common in Bielsko-Biała. Until the early years of the 20th century, the building was used as a house and a workshop of a weaver. The exhibition focuses on the latter aspect of its use, which is also closely related to the history of the city. The house hosts ethnographic exhibition with various items directly related to wavering and lifestyle of the past.
Old Factory (Stara Fabryka)
Alas often overlooked by visitors to Bielsko–Biała, this museum represents a rich history of many industries and businesses that created identity and past-wealth of the city. There are different machines and industrial equipment on display. Numerous objects from the category ‘guess what that is?’ make a visit to this museum both fun and educational. There are also exhibitions of memorabilia related to the history of Bielsko-Biała and old fire brigade vehicles. The museum is located in a hall of a former cloth factory from the 19th century.
Villa of Julian Fałat (Willa Juliana Fałata)
Julian Fałat was one of the leading Polish impressionists and realists known for his watercolour paintings. In the beginning of the 20th century, he built a villa in Bystra (a village next to Bielsko-Biała) where he lived from 1910 till his death in 1929. In the 1970s, this historical building was turned into a biographical museum of art and is currently a branch of the Museum of Bielsko-Biała. Eight rooms are designated to show paintings, memorabilia and archival materials related to the life and work of Julian Fałat.
The museum is a bit off the way for most of the tourists, but if you are interested in Polish paintings and life in Poland in the beginning of the 20th century, a trip to this museum is worth the effort. The city bus number 57 will take you directly to Bystra.
Wladyslaw Reymont Private Museum of Literature (Prywatne Muzeum Literatury im. Władysława Reymonta)
This small museum is run by Tadeusz Modrzejewski, a passionate admirer of Polish literature. He converted part of his house into a small exhibition where he displays a collection of personally hand-rewritten and illustrated works of Polish writers, mainly of a laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature – Władyslaw Reymont. The museum is located near the Old Town Square.
Automotive Museum (Muzeum Motoryzacji)
This small, but run with passion, automotive museum, displays around a dozen antique vehicles. The oldest examples include – Mercedes-Benz 170V sedan and Mercedes-Benz 170V cabriolet, both from 1938. The Polish automotive industry is represented by Syrena 105 from 1982, which by the way, was produced in Bielsko-Biała. The museum is managed by a local automotive club that also organize The International Beskid Rally of Antique Vehicles.