Chopin Museum, Warsaw

Antique furniture in Chopin museum
'The father's living room' Antique furniture, a piano and period wallpaper recreates the original room and puts the music into context. The space is brought to life by the shadows and sounds of the people that would have inhabited it.
(Image credit: press)

Two Italian architects have transformed the often dreary museum experience into something radically modern at the Ostrogski Palace in Warsaw. The new Chopin Museum, curated by Ico Migliore and Mara Servetto of Migliore+Servetto Architetti Associati (opens in new tab), invites visitors to delve into the world of the Polish composer via cutting edge audio–visual and interactive technologies.

Gone are those droning tour guides and their weary troops. Instead, a special card with a computer chip using Radio Frequency Identification technology allows visitors to personalise their museum experience, ask questions and interact with the displays.

'We wanted to incorporate the best technology could offer with an experience that is very human,' explains Servetto. 'To this end, all the sounds, smells and interactive technologies have been integrated together.'

In one room, you can activate the sounds of different instruments by stepping on sensors hidden in the floor. And in the 'The Composer' room, suspended above 14 music sampling stations is a dramatic installation of translucent plates that pulse with the rhythm of a rare Chopin score.

The 17th century Ostrogski Palace has been revamped and expanded to house the museum, whose opening coincides with the bicentenary of Frédéric Chopin's birth. Migliore+Servetto - who have designed several of Wallpaper's past Milan exhibitions - have created a thrilling mix of interactive visuals and soundscapes. 'Our strength is using architecture as a tool to communicate the value of a brand or tell a story,' says Mara. She admits, however, that this project is their most technologically ambitious yet.

Visitors can choose their own path around the exhibition and each room is its own mini-museum relating to a different aspect of Chopin's life. The show culminates in a space dedicated to his death in 1849 at the age of 39. It is a soundproof black cube, featuring a lock of Chopin's hair, a plaster death mask of his face and a book featuring comments from friends and acquaintances at the time, whose pages continually turn.

This room explores Chopin's life and music

'Warsaw' 

This room explores Chopin's life and music during the years he spent in Poland. Three islands in the centre allow visitors to listen to the music and explore the room's content in a more private manner. Glass columns featuring elegant wallpaper from the time also reveal Chopin's interest in aesthetics.

(Image credit: press)

This room recalls the time Chopin spent at the French chateau owned by his girlfriend

’Nohant’ 

This room recalls the time Chopin spent at the French chateau owned by his girlfriend, writer George Sand, where he composed several of his masterpieces. Chirping bird sounds evoke its natural setting.

(Image credit: press)

As visitors open the drawers, sheets of music appear to float out onto the table.

’Nohant’ 

As visitors open the drawers, sheets of music appear to float out onto the table.

(Image credit: press)

dramatic 3D map

’Zelazowa Wola’
Named after his birthplace, this room holds a dramatic 3D map. This enables visitors to explore Chopin’s history, including family trips, musical influences typical of Polish tradition, and the Polish landscape.

(Image credit: press)

This room acts as a kind of library, whose documents, sounds and visuals provide a sense of Chopin ’the man’, rather than simply ’the composer’

’Chopin’s personality’ 

This room acts as a kind of library, whose documents, sounds and visuals provide a sense of Chopin ’the man’, rather than simply ’the composer’.

(Image credit: press)

This section of the room is dedicated to his trips around Europe, travel notes and observations.

’Chopin’s personality’ 

This section of the room is dedicated to his trips around Europe, travel notes and observations.

(Image credit: press)

Chopin’s original piano

’The Pianist’ Chopin’s 

original piano, housed in a living room of the time, is the focus of this space. For each piece of music heard in this room, there is a projection of a pianist’s hands on the keys, showing the complexity and skill required to play it.

(Image credit: press)

Electroluminescent sheets pulsing with the rhythm of Chopin’s music are suspended above 14 music stations.

’The Composer’ 

Electroluminescent sheets pulsing with the rhythm of Chopin’s music are suspended above 14 music stations.

(Image credit: press)

The card used to personalise each museum experience

The card used to personalise each museum experience, featuring Radio Frequency Identification technology. Visitors can choose from eight different languages and five different levels: basic, advanced, for children, and for visually and hearing impaired.

(Image credit: press)

This area includes interactive stations, which reveal sounds and images that help children learn about Chopin’s life

’The Children’s Room’ 

This area includes interactive stations, which reveal sounds and images that help children learn about Chopin’s life. Pictured here are architects Mara Servetto and Ico Migliore.

(Image credit: press)

The exterior of the Ostrogski Palace in Warsaw, home to the Chopin Museum

The exterior of the Ostrogski Palace in Warsaw, home to the Chopin Museum.

(Image credit: press)

the ’Death Room’ is a sombre black box, featuring a plaster death mask taken of Chopin’s face and invitations to his memorial service

’The Death Room’

Unlike the other colourful rooms, the ’Death Room’ is a sombre black box, featuring a plaster death mask taken of Chopin’s face and invitations to his memorial service. This silent room is an oppressive space for quiet contemplation.

(Image credit: press)

Dedicated to the females in his life, this room features cabinets that relate to not just his mother, sister and girlfriend but his friends, pupils and patrons.

’The Women’

Dedicated to the females in his life, this room features cabinets that relate to not just his mother, sister and girlfriend but his friends, pupils and patrons.

(Image credit: press)

ADDRESS

1 Okólnik Street
00-368 Warsaw

VIEW GOOGLE MAPS (opens in new tab)