Newsletter, April 2016
On March 3rd, 2016 Andrzej Duda (The President of Poland), visited the Museum of History of the Polish Jews in Warsaw
During his nearly two-hour visit, the President not only remarked on the beauty of the architecture of the museum, but also underlined the crucial importance of its exhibition.
This is not just an element of basic education, but also of some preparation, including a cultural one, that every young Pole should undergo. I hope that this Museum, along with the Warsaw Uprising Museum (opened in 2004), will be visited by school trips as part of educational programs, said Andrzej Duda.
Since its opening, in April 2013, close to 1 200, 000 visitors were welcomed at The Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
Since October 28th 2014, when the permanent exhibition was inaugurated, 781,601 additional visitors have visited the biggest Jewish Museum of Europe.
Currently at the Museum
Frank Stella and Synagogues of Historic Poland
Temporary exhibition,from February 19 to June 20, 2016
Frank Stella, a New York abstractionist considered one of the best artists of the twentieth century, was the youngest artist in history to have a retrospective at MoMA in 1970, curated by William Rubin.
Fascinated with the beauty of Jewish temples, Stella began work on a series of abstract pieces, Polish Villages, at the beginning of the 1970s. The exhibition features these pieces of Stella’s, as well as their inspirations: pre-war photographs and measured drawings of synagogues from the Institute of Polish Architecture. The exhibition proposes a fascinating overlap and interplay of two seemingly distant worlds: that of the Polish wooden synagogue and modern American art.
Presence. Absence. Traces (Obecność. Brak. Ślady). Contemporary Artists on Jewish Warsaw
Temporary exhibition from March 11 to April 25, 2016
What is Jewish identity? What is the identity of Warsaw as a center of Jewish life? What image of the city emerges from collective and individual memory and today’s experiences? Who is “from here”? Artists-in-residence at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews have considered these questions.
The works presented in the exhibition have been made by Luísa Nóbrega, Eliane Esther Bots, Noa Shadur & Konrad Smoleński, Tamara Moyzes & Shlomi Yaffe, Jasmine Bakalarz, Itay Ziv, Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay, Hubert Czerepok, Florencia Levy, Aslı Çavuşoğlu & Simone De Iacobis & Małgorzata Kuciewicz, Lukas Ligeti, Maya Schweizer, and Sharon Lockhart.
All the works have been made in cooperation with POLIN Museum, and most with the participation of the local Jewish community, the community of the Muranów district, and other Varsovians. The Presence/Absence/Traces exhibition is the first collective presentation of these works and a record of a long-lasting activity that has connected the areas of art and adult education.
Conference: Jewish Cultural Heritage. Projects, Methods, Inspirations (June 8-10, 2016)
The conference will explore issues related to Jewish cultural heritage in contemporary Europe – preservation, animation, engagement, and impact.
For whom is Jewish cultural heritage being preserved and interpreted? What is its role in the renewal of Jewish life and memory? What is its impact on local and diasporic communities? How does Jewish cultural heritage figure in educational, artistic, and cultural programs? How is it deployed in wider historical and contemporary discourses?
The conference is organized in collaboration between the Polin Museum, HL-Senteret in Norway and the “Never Again” Association from Poland. The conference consulted with, among others, the beneficiaries of the Norway and European Economic Area Grants who conducted projects on Jewish cultural heritage. This project is supported by the EEA 2009-2014 Financial Mechanism and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009 – 2014 as part of the bilateral cooperation.
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Beyond the Museum
“Open Door to Israel” from Warsaw to Paris
The exhibit “Open door to Israel” is meant to provide people around the world with a glimpse of Israel and its people and is the result of inter-ministerial cooperation between Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry for Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy. After being presented in Poland in March (in Soho Factory), the multimedia installation moved to Paris in April, before going to Moscow in May.
Polish Economy and Politics
Polish government reaching out to global PR firms
According to Financial Times, the Polish government is looking for “a global public relations firm” to help improve its image, after a wave of negative coverage from major media outlets in the US, the UK and Germany, and the launch of a probe into the rule of law in Poland by the European Commission.
OECD: Poland needs to invest in infrastructure and labour
The growth of Polish economy over the last two decades requires, in order to remain sustainable, more investments in infrastructure and worker skills according to the OECD report published in March 2016. Polish economic growth “remains solid” and unemployment is on the decline.
Central Bank: Polish GDP expected to grow 3.8%
The Polish economy is set to grow 3.8 percent this year and next, and 3.4 percent in 2018, according to a new report on inflation and GDP growth by the central bank (NBP). Poland’s 2016 budget, signed into law by President Andrzej Duda earlier this month, is based on a projection of 3.8 percent GDP growth.
Salaries and consumption growth in Poland
The average gross monthly salary in Poland climbed 3.9 percent year on year in February according to the country’s Central Statistical Office. On average, Poles earned PLN 4,137 (USD 1,091, EUR 963) a month.
NATO Summit in June in Poland
On 8 and 9 July 2016, the Warsaw Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will be a meeting of the heads of state and heads of government of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Empowerment: Women Congresses in Poland
Equality, Activity, Democracy (Warsaw, May 13-14)
The 8th Congress of Women is going to be devoted to discussions on “Equality, Activity, Democracy”. Annual meeting of a movement founded in 2009 by philosopher Magdalena Środa and economist Henryka Bochniarz, is an opportunity to discuss the issues of on-going social transformations and remaining inequalities.
Building an Inclusive Economy in the Digital Age (Warsaw, June 9-11)
Major international event promoting expanding women’s economic opportunities globally through exchanges of working solutions and creative strategies forged by women leaders all over the world will take place in Warsaw this year. Global Summit of Women: Building an Inclusive Economy in the Digital Age is backed by the Prime Minister of Poland Beata Szydło.
Culture and history
Celebration of Polish Literature in Paris
Like nearly every year, Polish literature was presentat the Paris Book Fair – Salon du Livre 2016 (March 19-23, 2016). Many writers have been invited to the event, and among them Olga Tokarczuk, the author of Księgi Jakubowe (The Books of Jacob), a story of Jacob Frank, a religious and mystical Jewish figure in 18th-century Poland. The heritage of Jerzy Grotowski, theatre director, philosopher of theatre and Collège de France professor, was discussed by Ludwik Flaszen (essayist and Grotowski’s collaborator) and Georges Banu (theatre professor). Moreover, Roman Polanski participated in the launching event of the Fair.
Two Polish cities were particularly celebrated at the event, Krakow and Wroclaw. Among other invited guests were Joanna Bator, Marek Bieńczyk, Iwona Chmielewska, Artur Domosławski, Hubert Klimko-Dobrzaniecki, Urszula Kozioł, Marek Krajewski, Ryszard Krynicki, Ewa Lipska, Adam Michnik, Zygmunt Miłoszewski, Joanna Olech, Tomasz Różycki, Agata Tuszyńska, Krzysztof Varga, WojciechTochman, Mariusz Szczygieł and Grzegorz Rosiński.
A family history to become a Hollywood movie
During World War II, the Żabiński family managed the Warsaw Zoo where they hid Jews. In 2007, Diane Ackerman published her non-fiction book The Zookeeper’s Wife, which tells the story of this family.
The book became a British-American movie, directed by Niki Caro based on the scenario written by Angela Workman. Jessica Chastain is going to play Antonina Żabińska.
“Protecting the good name of Poland”
For many years, Polish authorities were intervening diplomatically every time a major media or political personality used the expression “Polish Death Camps” – expression that seems to imply that Polish responsibility in the Second World War crimes was decisive.
In 2016, the new Government of the country seeks to “protect the good name of Poland and of Poles”, as announced by the deputy justice minister, Patryk Jaki, at a press conference on February 15, 2016. The Ministry of Justice wishes to add to the Polish Constitution an article according to which the “good name of Republic of Poland and of Polish people is protected by the law”. Public claims falsely attributing the country’s participation in crimes of the Third Reich and the responsibility for them could be punished by a jail sentence of up to five years.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day
The POLIN Museum website gives the opportunity to read Holocaust survivors’ testimonies to commemorate the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Established by the UN General Assembly resolution of 2005, it is held every year on January 27, together with the anniversary of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp liberation.
A Museum of Poles Who Saved Jews
On March 17 2016, in Markowa (Łańcut County), a village in the South-Eastern Poland, the President of Poland Andrzej Duda and national and local authorities celebrated the opening of a new institution – “Ulma Family Museum of Poles Saving Jews in World War II” (Muzeum Polaków Ratujących Żydów podczas II wojny światowej im. Rodziny Ulmów w Markowej), honoring those Poles who helped to save Jews during the Second World War.
The Museum is located near the place where German soldiers killed Jozef Ulma, his pregnant wife Wiktoria and their six children, as well as eight members of the Goldman, Gruenfeld and Didner families that the Ulmas were sheltering.
More than 6,600 of them have been named as ‘righteous among the nations’ by Israel’s Yad Vashem institute. It is estimated that between 1,000 and 1,500 Poles were killed for defying German decrees of 1941 and 1942 that banned any aid for Jews.
Virtual visits of the Polin Museum
Google Cultural Institute
In January 2016, Google Cultural Institute welcomed elements of the Polin Museum to its collection. A 360–degree camera, as known from the Street View services of Google, photographed the exhibition in the summer of 2014, going through Jewish Warsaw from the XVI century to 1939.
Warsze – Żydowska Warszawa (Jewish Warsaw)
In particular, Polin has created a virtual visit of important pre-war Jewish areas in Warsaw: Warsze– Żydowska Warszawa.
Three other web tours – short movies – are currently available, inspired by the core exhibition: (1) One Hour, Eight Highlights, (2) Jewish Religious Life and (3) Yiddish in 14 Highlights.
Night of the Museums (May 16-17, 2016) is a very popular event in Warsaw. This year’s edition, devoted to the work of Frank Stella, will feature an interactive geometric installation and light projections of abstract forms, which we will prepare together with artists and visitors.
International Film Festival Jewish Motifs (May 18 – 22, 2016) is to take place in the Polin Museum. This event is among the many international festivals focused on the Jewish People, its tradition, identity and history, both past and present.
Organizers of the festival would like the films on Jewish culture to reach the young audience who is confronted today with complex contemporary problems, such as terrorism, intolerance and hatred.