London Unveiled

great places to visit off the beaten path.

The Sikorski Museum ~ a hidden gem of military history.

Sikorski Polish museum (2)

The Sikorski Museum should be on your to-do list if you have an interest in Napoleonic through WWII military history.  While arguably one of the most under-visited museums in London, partly because of its limited hours and reserved setting, a hour or two spent here will reward most visitors.

Relics from a German plane shot down by the Polish Air Force

Relics from a German plane shot down by the Polish Air Force

Officially known as the Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum it was created on 2-May-1945 by Helene Sikorski, the widow of Polish General Sikorski.  During WWII General Sikorski was the Prime Minister of the Polish in Exile, and Commander-in-Chief of their armed forces.  Helene Sikorski’s donation after World War II to preserve her husband’s papers and memorabilia served as the foundation of this every growing collection that honours the memory of Polish armed forces in the West.

The Events Room

The Events Room

In 1946 the current home of the museum was purchased at 20 Prince’s Gate.  The property is a wonderful London home and is marked only by a small brass plaque on the door so it is easily missed.

Sikorski Polish museum (9)

Since its founding the collection has grown significantly and expanded beyond WWII to recognize Polish involvement in military conflict since the Napoleonic wars.  A visit to this museum provides a fascinating insight into how the Polish forces (army, navy and air force) in exile during WWII continued to support the Allied effort.  With its leadership based in London it is fitting for its collection to be housed here.  The collection includes weaponry, dioramas, uniforms, ephemera and photographs.

General Sikorski

General Sikorski

Of particular note was the value the docent brought to my visit.  I would strongly recommend that you take advantage of the knowledgeable tour guides as the insight and perspective really added to the experience.  The story of Voytek (Wojtek), the Syrian bear cub orphaned and adopted by the Polish II Corps is particularly interesting.  Be certain to hear about how he was enlisted as a Private, helped carry ammunition at the Battle of Monte Cassino, and retired to the Edinburgh zoo.

The Napoleonic Room

The Napoleonic Room

Visiting:  The museum is open Tues-Fri 2pm-4pm, and the 1st Sat of the month from 10am-4pm.  Admission is free.  Donations are accepted.
Sikorski Polish museum (10)

 

Located at:  20 Prince’s Gate (Kensington Rd), London, SW7 1PT

Closest tube:  Knightsbridge

20 Prince's Gate - home to the Sikorski Museum

20 Prince’s Gate – home to the Sikorski Museum

6 comments on “The Sikorski Museum ~ a hidden gem of military history.

  1. inspiringcity
    November 9, 2014

    Wow I’d never heard of this place, sounds really interesting 🙂

    • LondonUnveiled.com
      November 10, 2014

      Glad you liked the post… I think many readers will not have heard of it and I would guess even fewer have visited it…. Ian.

  2. Beachbums1
    November 15, 2014

    Never heard of it but it looks very interesting. Thanks for sharing!

  3. vanda03
    April 25, 2016

    Visited this museum last year. It was only opened a couple of hours in the afternoon so best to phone to check it will be opened. Beautiful house and just visiting the inside of that was worth it.

    There is an amazing amount of war memorabilia and personal possession of famous Polish Generals. Really worth a visit. I had a guided tour and enjoyed my time there. Interesting to hear about the Polish war effort. My father has a connection to Poland so went to take photos for him.

  4. Patrick de Beck Spitzer
    November 18, 2016

    Bien que je n’ai pas visité encore ce musée j’aimerais savoir où je pourrais trouver des documents concernant le gouvernement en éxil à Angers (St. Barthelemy) et au voyage d’Angers à Lisbonne. Qui faisait parti du convoi et que s’est-il passé? Merci d’avance sur tous les renseignements que vous pourrez me procurer.

    • LondonUnveiled.com
      November 18, 2016

      this is not a research site or service. please contact the musuem directly.

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