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POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews
Polish Jews
(Polish: Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich) is a museum on the site of the former Warsaw
Warsaw
Ghetto. The Hebrew word Polin in the museum's name means, in English, either "Poland" or "rest here" and is related to a legend on the arrival of the first Jews in Poland.[1] The cornerstone was laid in 2007, and the museum was first opened on April 19, 2013.[2][3] The museum's Core Exhibition opened in October 2014.[4] The museum features a multimedia narrative exhibition about the living Jewish community that flourished in Poland
Poland
for a thousand years up to the Holocaust.[5] The building, a postmodern structure in glass, copper, and concrete, was designed by Finnish architects Rainer Mahlamäki
Rainer Mahlamäki
and Ilmari Lahdelma.[6]

Contents

1 History 2 Construction 3 Organizational structure 4 Core Exhibition 5 Galleries

5.1 Forest 5.2 First Encounters (10th century-1507) 5.3 Paradisus Iudaeorum (1569-1648) 5.4 The Jewish Town (1648-1772) 5.5 Encounters with Modernity (1772-1914) 5.6 On the Jewish Street (1914-1939) 5.7 Holocaust
Holocaust
(1939-1944) 5.8 Postwar Years (1944-present)

6 See also 7 Notes 8 References 9 External links

History[edit]

President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, at the groundbreaking ceremony for the POLIN Museum, 26 June 2007

The idea for creating a major new museum in Warsaw
Warsaw
dedicated to the history of Polish Jews
Polish Jews
was initiated in 1995 by the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute
Jewish Historical Institute
of Poland.[7] In the same year, the Warsaw City Council allocated the land for this purpose in Muranów, Warsaw’s prewar Jewish quarter and site of the former Warsaw
Warsaw
Ghetto, facing the Monument to the Warsaw
Warsaw
Ghetto Heroes. In 2005, the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute
Jewish Historical Institute
of Poland
Poland
established a private-public partnership with the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the City of Warsaw. The Museum's first director was Jerzy Halbersztadt. In September 2006, a specially designed tent called Ohel (the Hebrew word for tent) was erected for exhibitions and events at site of the museum's future location.[7] An international architectural competition to design the building was launched in 2005, supported by a grant from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. On June 30, 2005, the winner was announced by the jury as the team of two Finnish architects, Rainer Mahlamäki
Rainer Mahlamäki
and Ilmari Lahdelma.[8] On June 30, 2009, construction of the building was officially inaugurated. The project was completed in 33 months at a cost of 150 million zloty allocated by the Ministry and the City, [a] with a total cost of 320 million zloty.[10][11] It is financially supported by annual funds from the Polish Ministry of Culture and Warsaw
Warsaw
City Council.[12] The building opened and the museum began its educational and cultural programs on April 19, 2013, on the 70th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. During the 18 months that followed, more than 180,000 visitors toured the building, visited the first temporary exhibitions, and took part in cultural and educational programs and events, including film screenings, debates, workshops, performances, concerts, and lectures. The Grand Opening, with the completed Core Exhibition, took place on October 28, 2014.[13] The Core Exhibition documents and celebrates the thousand-year history of the Jewish community in Poland that was decimated by the Holocaust.[4][5] In 2016 the museum won the European Museum of the Year Award
European Museum of the Year Award
from the European Museum Forum.[14] Construction[edit]

Museum faces the Memorial to the Warsaw
Warsaw
Ghetto Uprising

The Museum faces the memorial commemorating the Warsaw
Warsaw
Ghetto Uprising of 1943. The winner of the architectural competition was Rainer Mahlamäki, of the architectural studio 'Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Oy in Helsinki, whose design was chosen from 100 submissions to the international architectural competition. The Polish firm Kuryłowicz & Associates was responsible for construction. The building's minimalist exterior is clad with glass fins and copper mesh. Silk screened on the glass is the word Polin, in Latin and Hebrew letters. The central feature of the building is its cavernous entrance hall. The main hall forms a high, undulating wall. The empty space is a symbol of cracks in the history of Polish Jews. Similar in shape to gorge, which could be a reference to the crossing of the Red Sea known from the Exodus. The museum is nearly 13,000 square meters of usable space. At the lowest level, in the basement of the building will be placed a main exhibition about history of Jews from the Middle Ages to modern times. The museum building also has a multipurpose auditorium with 480 seats, temporary exhibition rooms, education center, information center, play room for children, café, shop, and in the future kosher restaurant. Since the museum presents the whole history of Jews in Poland, not only the period under German occupation, the designer wanted to avoid similarities to existing Holocaust
Holocaust
museums (such as the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the museum at Yad Vashem) which had austere concrete structures. The architects kept the museum in the colors of sand, giving it a more approachable feeling.[15]

Selected features

Hebrew and Latin letters of the word Polin

Main hall

Gwoździec synagogue roof reconstruction

Reconstructed vault and bimah in the Museum of the History of Polish Jews

"On the Jewish Street" gallery with entrances to exhibition halls

Traditional Mezuzah
Mezuzah
at the entrance

Facing the Museum, is the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes

In 2008, the design of the museum was awarded the Chicago Athenaeum International Architecture Award.[16] In 2014, the designer Rainer Mahlamäki was awarded the Finlandia Prize for Architecture for his design of the museum.[17] Organizational structure[edit] The Core Exhibition's academic team consists of Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (Program Director) of New York University, Hanna Zaremska of the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Adam Teller of Brown University, Igor Kąkolewski of the University of Warmia and Mazury, Marcin Wodziński of the University of Wrocław, Samuel Kassow of Trinity College, Barbara Engelking and Jacek Leociak of the Polish Center for Holocaust
Holocaust
Research at the Polish Academy of Sciences, Helena Datner of the Jewish Historical Institute, and Stanisław Krajewski of Warsaw
Warsaw
University. Antony Polonsky of Brandeis University is the Core Exhibition's chief historian.[18] The North American Council of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews is a U.S. based non-profit organization supporting the foundation of the Museum.[19] On June 17, 2009 the museum launched the Virtual Shtetl
Virtual Shtetl
portal, which collects and provides access to essential information about Jewish life in Poland
Poland
before and after the Holocaust
Holocaust
in Poland. The portal now features more than 1,240 towns with maps, statistics, and image galleries based in large measure on material provided by local history enthusiasts and former residents of those places.[20] Core Exhibition[edit] The Core Exhibition occupies more than 4,000 square metres (43,000 sq ft) of space. It consists of eight galleries that document and celebrate the thousand-year history of the Jewish community in Poland
Poland
– once the largest Jewish community in the world – that was almost entirely destroyed during the Holocaust. The exhibition includes a multimedia narrative with interactive installations, paintings and oral histories, among other features created by more than 120 scholars and curators. One item is a replica of the roof and ceiling of a 17th-century Gwoździec synagogue.[5][21] Galleries[edit] Forest[edit] This gallery tells the tale of how, fleeing from persecution in Western Europe, the Jews came to Poland. Over the next thousand years, the country would become the largest European home for the Jewish community. First Encounters (10th century-1507)[edit] This gallery is devoted to the first Jewish settlers in Poland. Visitors meet Ibrahim ibn Jakub, a Jewish diplomat from Cordoba, author of famous notes from a trip to Europe. One of the most interesting objects presented in the gallery is the first sentence written in Yiddish in the prayer book of 1272. Paradisus Iudaeorum (1569-1648)[edit] This gallery presents how the Jewish community was organized and what role Jews played in the country’s economy. One of the most important elements in this gallery is an interactive model of Kraków
Kraków
and Jewish Kazimierz, showing the rich culture of the local Jewish community. Visitors learn that religious tolerance in Poland
Poland
made it a "Paradisus Iudaeorum" (Jewish paradise). This golden age of the Jewish community in Poland
Poland
ended with pogroms during the Khmelnitsky Uprising. This event is commemorated by a symbolic fire gall leading to the next gallery. The Jewish Town (1648-1772)[edit] This gallery presents the history of Polish Jews
Polish Jews
until the period of the partitions. It is shown by an example of a typical borderland town where Jews constituted a significant part of the population. The most important part of this gallery is a unique reconstruction of the roof and ceiling of Gwoździec, a wooden synagogue that was located in pre-war Poland. Encounters with Modernity (1772-1914)[edit] This gallery presents the time of the partitions when Jews shared the fate of Polish society divided between Austria, Prussia and Russia. The exhibition includes the role played by Jewish entrepreneurs, such as Izrael Kalmanowicz Poznański, in the industrial revolution in Polish lands. Visitors also learn about changes in traditional Jewish rituals and other areas of life, and the emergence of new social movements, religious and political. This period is also marked by the emergence of modern anti-semitism, which Polish Jews
Polish Jews
had to face. On the Jewish Street (1914-1939)[edit] This gallery is devoted to the period of the Second Polish Republic, which is seen – despite the challenges that the young country had to face – as a second golden age in the history of Polish Jews. A graphic timeline is presented, indicating many of the most important political events of the interwar period. The exhibition also highlights Jewish film, theater, and literature. Holocaust
Holocaust
(1939-1944)[edit] This gallery shows the tragedy of the Holocaust
Holocaust
during the German occupation of Poland, which resulted in the deaths of approximately 90 percent of the 3.3 million Polish Jews. Visitors are shown the history of the Warsaw
Warsaw
Ghetto and introduced to Emanuel Ringelblum
Emanuel Ringelblum
and the clandestine group of volunteers that went by the code name Oyneg Shabbos, who collected documents and solicited testimonies and reports chronicling life in the Ghetto during the Nazi occupation. The gallery also portrays the horrors experienced by the non-Jewish population of Poland
Poland
during World War II
World War II
as well as their reactions and responses to the extermination of Jews. Postwar Years (1944-present)[edit] The last gallery shows the period after 1945, when most of the survivors of the Holocaust
Holocaust
emigrated for various reasons, including the post-war takeover of Poland
Poland
by the Soviets, the hostility of some portion on the Polish populace, and the state-sponsored anti-Semitic campaign conducted by the communist authorities in 1968. An important date is the year 1989, marking the end of Soviet domination, followed by the revival of a small but dynamic Jewish community in Poland. The exhibition was developed by an international team of scholars and museum professionals from Poland, the United States and Israel as well as the Museum’s curatorial team under the direction of Prof. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett.[21] See also[edit]

History of the Jews in Poland Gwoździec Synagogue Galicia Jewish Museum Yad Vashem Jewish Museum in Berlin United States Holocaust
Holocaust
Memorial Museum

Notes[edit]

^ The Association for the Jewish Historical Institute
Jewish Historical Institute
of Poland
Poland
took responsibility for creating the Core Exhibition and raising the funds for it at a cost of about 120 million zloty[9]

References[edit]

^ "A 1000-Year History of Polish Jews" (PDF). POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Retrieved 2013-07-20.  ^ "Kolejna budowa spóźniona. Czy jakaś powstanie na czas?". Gazeta Wyborcza. April 2012.  ^ "Little Left of Warsaw
Warsaw
Ghetto 70 Years After Uprising". Yahoo!7. April 17, 2013. [permanent dead link] ^ a b "About the Museum", POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, accessed December 18, 2014 ^ a b c The Associated Press (June 24, 2007), Poland's new Jewish museum to mark community's thousand-year history. ^ Polish, Jewish leaders break ground on landmark Jewish museum The Associated Press, June 26, 2007 ^ a b A.J. Goldmann, "Polish Museum Set To Open Spectacular Window on Jewish Past" The Jewish Daily Forward, April 01, 2013. ^ "Konkurs na projekt" [Contest for the design of the Museum]. Stołeczny Zarząd Rozbudowy Miasta. Archived from the original on 2013-10-16.  ^ Rozpoczęto budowę Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich. Mkidn.gov.pl. ^ "Zapis przebiegu posiedzenia komisji". Sejm.gov.pl. 2013-09-25. Retrieved 2015-10-15.  ^ http://www.mkidn.gov.pl/media/docs/2013/20130416_mzhp.pdf ^ "Wiadomości". Retrieved 11 January 2018.  ^ Znamy datę otwarcia wystawy Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich 22 January 2014 ^ "Polish Jewry museum wins European Museum of the Year Award". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 10 April 2016. Retrieved 11 April 2016.  ^ Museum of the History of Polish Jews
Polish Jews
by Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Dezeen Magazine, 3 October 2013. ^ International Architecture Awards: 2008 Winners[permanent dead link] The Chicago Athenaeum. ^ "Arkkitehtuurin ensimmäinen Finlandia-palkinto: Rainer Mahlamäen puolanjuutalaisen historian museo Varsovassa". Helsingin Sanomat. 4 Nov 2014. Retrieved 5 Nov 2014.  ^ Museum of the History of Polish Jews: About the museum[permanent dead link] at JewishMuseum.org. ^ "Home". Retrieved 11 January 2018.  ^ "Wirtualny Sztetl - Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich POLIN". www.sztetl.org.pl. Retrieved 11 January 2018.  ^ a b "Core Exhibition" Archived 2014-12-10 at the Wayback Machine., POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, accessed December 18, 2014

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Museum of the History of the Polish Jews.

Museum of the History of the Polish Jews
Polish Jews
at sztetl.org.pl The North American Council of the Museum at mhpjnac.org Read about museum at culture.pl "POLIN: A Light Unto the Nations", by David G. Roskies, Jewish Review of Books, 2015 POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews
Polish Jews
at Google Cultural Institute

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