Dariusz Stola, Head of the POLIN Museum, in the midst of a political storm

Updates (last: November 2019)

12. 02. 2019: Le ministre de la Culture a refusé de prolonger le contrat du directeur du Musée POLIN (prof. D. Stola).
Quels sont les projets de M. Gliński?

Cet article est la traduction en anglais du texte paru dans Gazeta Wyborcza, retraçant les tensions politiques derrière la décision du Ministre polonais de la Culture de ne pas prolonger le mandat du prof. Dariusz Stola, directeur du Musée POLIN. Nous exprimons tout notre soutien à Mr. Stola (signez la pétition).

unitedkingsomThis article is a translation of a paper from Gazeta Wyborcza, about the decision of the Polish Minister of Culture to end the director mandate of Dariusz Stola, head of the POLIN Museum. We express all our support to Prof. Stola (sign the petition).

The Minister of Culture refused to extend the contract of POLIN Museum director. What are Mr Gliński’s plans?

Tomasz Urzykowski 16 February 2019 | 7AM

Professor Dariusz Stola’s term as director of POLIN Museum expires in about two weeks. The Ministry of Culture did not agree to extend his contract. He fell into disfavour when he condemned hate speech propagated by the Polish State Television (TVP) journalists. The new director will be selected by a committee vote.

In 2018 alone, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews was visited by over 670,000 people, the majority of them being guests from abroad. In Warsaw, such large attendance may be compared only with the National Museum and the Warsaw Rising Museum. The temporary exhibition Estranged: March ’68 and Its Aftermath proved to be extremely popular—it was viewed by over 116,000 people, a record-breaking number for an exposition dedicated to history.

Allegation: Director Stola is slandering Poland

Prof. Dariusz Stola was appointed director of POLIN Museum on 1 March 2014 for a term of 5 years, with an option to extend the contract. He is a historian, professor at the Institute of Political Studies at the Polish Academy of Sciences, specializing in Polish-Jewish relations, the Holocaust, the communist regime in Poland and international migrations in the twentieth century. He was appointed director of POLIN Museum by then Minister of Culture Bogdan Zdrojewski. Professor Stola took over a newly-constructed Museum building in the Warsaw district of Muranów with no permanent exhibition. The exhibition, completed during Prof. Stola’s term as director, was opened in October 2014. The Museum hosts excellent temporary exhibitions, important public debates and cultural events. It has gained widespread acclaim and numerous awards, among them Europa Nostra, the most prestigious European prize granted for preserving and propagating cultural heritage. The argumentation read: “[POLIN Museum] created a safe haven to engage in an intercultural dialogue, thus offering a vital lesson to today’s world.”

Despite all that, Prof. Stola came under fierce attack from the politicians and media associated with the current government. First, he criticised the Amendment to the Institute of National Remembrance Act. He then launched the program titled Estranged. March ’68 and Its Aftermath dedicated to the 1968 antisemitic campaign in Poland, which also pointed out to the contemporary hate speech (the exhibition presented examples of online hate speech propagated by journalists of TVP). Prof. Stola was accused, among others by MPs from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, of slandering Poland. In one interview, Minister of Culture Piotr Gliński accused him of a “deep political involvement.”

The Minister wants to organize a committee vote

POLIN Museum is co-run by the Ministry of Culture, the City of Warsaw and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute. Selecting a director and his deputies requires a unanimous decision reached by these three bodies. In case they fail to agree, the Minister may suggest an interim head of the institution. According to our sources, the Ministry has debated over a new appointment of POLIN Museum director for several months now. The City of Warsaw and the Association opted for extending Prof. Stola’s contract. The Ministry of Culture rooted against this option.

Piotr Wiślicki, Chairman of the Board of the Association declares: “On behalf of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute I wish to confirm that Professor Dariusz Stola is the best candidate for the post of director of POLIN Museum. We want him to continue his mission, for the Museum under his management keeps evolving and earning international acclaim.”

”In my opinion, Professor Dariusz Stola is the best director [of POLIN Museum]. He holds all possible assets to fulfil this function,” says Rafał Trzaskowski, Mayor of the City of Warsaw.

The last meeting of the three bodies that organize POLIN Museum was held three weeks ago at the Ministry of Culture. It was attended by Minister Piotr Gliński, Deputy Minister Jarosław Sellin, Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski and Chairman Piotr Wiślicki. “Acceding to the request of the Ministry of Culture, we have reached a conclusion that a committee vote in which all three bodies have equal representation is the most transparent and reliable method of selecting the new director. It is imperative to all of us that it is organized as soon as possible,” says Mr Wiślicki.

Will Minister Gliński keep his promise?

The Ministry of Culture is to organize the committee vote. Chairman Wiślicki and Mayor Trzaskowski suggested that Professor Stola should be the acting director until the committee vote is resolved. “It offers us a guarantee that all vital projects run by the Museum continue to be realised. We cannot except any other option. The Minister showed consideration to this proposal,” says Mr Wiślicki.

”I do hope the Ministry will respect this deal,” adds Mayor Trzaskowski.

Professor Dariusz Stola is planning to enter for the committee vote.

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