The historic bathhouse (Polish: łaźnia), built in the early 20th Century, has been a venue for artistic activities since 1992. The Contemporary Arts Centre was opened here in 1998.
2012 saw the opening of the “Łaźnia” Artistic Education Centre in the Art Centre’s twin facility in Nowy Port, as a branch of the CSW.
In its programme, the CSW exhibits contemporary art with particular attention given to artists who address social issues, the education of local communities, the running of an international temporary-stay studio for artists, and developing a collection of modern works of art. The programme, introduced in 2001, covers both traditional and experimental forms of various projects within Polish and foreign exhibitions of modern art, artistic arrangements in the urban space, film screenings, and also workshops and classes in which the audience is encouraged to actively participate.
The Contemporary Arts Centre also activates cyclical artistic and educational projects, such as
- The External Gallery of the City of Gdańsk (based on building a collection of durable works of art in urban space),
- Cities on the Edge (a project initiated by the idea of partnership cooperation in the field of culture, between cities applying now or earlier for the title of the European Capital of Culture; the project refers to the geographical location “on the verge”, which defines the identity, and also the similar functions and traditions of a given place)
- Art & Science Meetings (a series of exhibitions, lectures, educational programmes, and publications describing and specifying issues fringing upon art and science),
- Inkubator (a programme presenting and promoting young people’s art).
In addition, meetings and lectures on contemporary art are held. This includes periodic meetings with contemporary music and musical initiatives often coupled with theatre art, para-theatre projects, dance, film, and audio-visual art (“In Progress”), and also film screenings combined with discussions on the roles of video and cinema (“Parakino”). Each month, the CSW organises “Meet the Author” events titled “Mistycy – literaci – wariaci” (“Mystics – Writers – Lunatics”), intended to present the work of respected figures from off-beat literary circles.
As education is another important aspect of the CSW’s programme, the Centre holds art lessons and workshops, in the form of traditional guided visits with lectures, aimed at introducing the audience to the fundamental questions of contemporary art, and art workshops. Participants include children and teenagers from Dolne Miasto and Nowy Port – neglected districts of Gdańsk, hosting the “Łaźnia” Contemporary Art Centre and the “Łaźnia 2” Artistic Education Centre. The project originators wish to familiarise the audience with the social context in contemporary art and to show its diverse forms and multifaceted nature.
The workshops for children and teenagers are run by renowned Polish artists who prepare their own programmes based on their artistic interests. The overall goal is to stimulate creativity in students and encourage them to undertake art-oriented efforts, and also to motivate them to act and think outside the box, departing from the usual school routine. The workshops should help its participants in understanding, becoming acquainted and engaging in broadly-understood art and culture, and also be an incentive for them to visit a cultural institution again.
In addition, the CSW “Łaźnia” hosts a library comprising art literature, own publications, and a press archive with information on Łaźnia.