The museum was founded in 1929 by the Silesian Sejm, while the region was recovering from the Silesian Uprisings. In the interbellum, the Silesian Museum was one of the biggest museums in Poland. The Nazis however brought the collection to Bytom and tore the building down in 1940. In 1984 the museum was reinstated in the former Grand Hotel. In 2015 a new campus was opened on the site of the former Katowice mine (See article in German or article in Polish) founded by Carl Lazarus Henckel von Donnersmarck including old extant buildings, but the primary exhibition space is underground in what was the mine.
Permanent exhibitions cover:
- Upper Silesia over the course of history, presented in Polish, English and also German, and notably addressing sensitive issues such as the area's German cultural heritage and relationship with Germany - topics taboo under the Communist regime.
- Polish Art 1800-1945
- Gallery of non-Professional Art
- Polish Art after 1945
- On the trail of Tomek
- Sacred Art
- Silesian industry
- Laboratory of theatrical space
- Silesian industry in arms production of the 19th-20th c.
Artists on display
Among the works of Polish art are remarkable examples portraits by Stanisław Wyspiański and some paintings by Olga Boznańska. Other artists on display from the original collection, returned from Bytom, are:
- Jan Cybis
- Henryk Derczynski
- Tadeusz Makowski
- Józef Mehoffer
- Piotr Michałowski
- Tymon Niesiołowski
- Stanisław Witkiewicz
- Witold Wojtkiewicz
More contemporary artists on display are:
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