The presidents of Poland and Israel were on hand October 28th for the opening of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, bringing international attention to the 1,000-year history of Poland’s Jewish community, tragically decimated by the Holocaust. The museum was made possible through a $50 million investment from private investors and nearly $80 million from Polish government funds.
The austere, glass-clad edifice of the museum stands in contrast to much of the surrounding housing development of the Muranów Borough. The building, however, becomes truly impressive as soon as you enter: suddenly, you find yourself in a unique space, forcefully torn away from two undulating concrete walls just above your head. At over 20 meters tall, the three-dimensional wall is the largest structure of its kind in the world. It was meant to convey the Biblical parting of the Red Sea, but the creators of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews prefer another interpretation: the gash made in the Jewish community by the Second World War.
Jews were practically removed from Polish history. As if expunged by a rubber eraser. “With this Museum, we want to commemorate their lives,” says Piotr Wiślicki, chairman of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute (AJHI).
The 28th day of October marked the opening of the main exhibition. The city of Warsaw has not seen a similar social action project since the rebuilding of the Royal Castle. The new museum was made possible through the involvement of many, from Pope John Paul II to the President of Israel. As far as its scale is concerned, just two other Jewish museums can compete: Yad Vashem and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The sum of 405 million zlotys exceeds the investment for the Copernicus Science Centre in Warsaw.
It’s the first museum in Poland to be built with half its funding raised by private donors. This is the story of how a group of enthusiasts petitioned major businessmen for 165 million zlotys to fulfill a dream. And they succeeded.“We were chasing money for 20 years, and we had moments of doubt,” says Wiślicki... (see more at: http://www.forbes.com/)