The city of Wroclaw, Poland was home to many neon signs advertising state-owned enterprises (SOEs) during Poland’s Communist days (1945-1989). Some of those signs – such as the ones over Wroclaw’s train station and zoo entrance – are still standing and advertising the businesses they were designed to promote. Many others vanished into history along with the SOEs of the bygone socialist era.
The Galeria Neonów (Neon Side Gallery) was established in the late 2000s at the site of the old state-owned Reklama neon and sign production enterprise. The gallery is owned by Tomasz Kosmalski, who was one of a number of young people living in the city who were alarmed at the rapid disappearance of vintage neon signs as old buildings were torn down, signs fell into disrepair or, more often than not, the signs themselves were simply torn down and junked by re-developers making new uses of the old Communist-era buildings. The Neon Side Gallery has become home to many neon signs donated by businesses and private owners as well as neon enthusiasts attempting to save pieces of Wroclaw’s neon legacy.
Many of these signs now adorn the back alley of the building and are switched on at night for the public to come by and admire. Some of the signs are often used in local events, such as galas.
The Neon Side Gallery also has a Facebook page that details the signs featured there, the efforts of the gallery to preserve old neon signs, as well as pictures and details of Wroclaw’s neon during the socialist years.
- https://visitwroclaw.eu/en/place/neon-side-gallery (Article about the Neon Side Gallery.)
(Image copyright: Andrzej Otrębski. Used via Wikimedia Commons per CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.)