At the turn of the 20th century, in the moment just before the birth of cinema, there was the fotoplastikon. Based on the enormous success of home stereoscopic viewers in the Victorian era, the fotoplastikon was Poland’s first 3-D theater, a kind of scaled up view-master. Viewers sat around a large cylinder looking through eyepieces, while stereoscopic slides scrolled past and music played in the background.
For the people of Warsaw, however, the fotoplastikon was more than just a frivolous amusement. Built in 1905, the fotoplastikon survived both the Nazi invasion and Soviet control. It served as a reminder of better times, and of other places where things were different. It was also a meeting place for dissidents and revolutionaries, where jazz music could be heard and pictures of western life could be peeked at. In the words of a Polish Poet Tadeusz Chudy:
Today the fotoplastikon is still open, run by the grandson of the original owner, and still a popular meeting place in Warsaw.
Know Before You Go
It's open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 pm. There's free entry on Thursday.