About the Museum
The Museum of the History of Polish Jews opened its doors to the public in April 2013. It currently functions as a cultural and educational center with a rich cultural program, including temporary exhibitions, films, debates, workshops, performances, concerts, lectures and much more. The Core Exhibition, presenting the thousand-year history of Polish Jews, opened on October 28, 2014.
Formally founded in 2005 by the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland, the City of Warsaw, and the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the Museum is a unique and unprecedented initiative, spanning many fields of research and drawing on the expertise of scholars and museum professionals from all around the world. The Museum also works with the community-at-large to create a vibrant platform for a dialogue and provide a place for people to exchange ideas, express views, ask questions, and grow.
Occupying around 4 000 sq m (ca. 43 000 sq ft), the Museum’s Core Exhibition will immerse visitors in the world of Polish Jews, from their arrival in Po-lin as traveling merchants in medieval times until today. The exhibition was developed by an international team of more than 120 scholars working under the direction of Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett from New York University. It was produced by the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland thanks to the support of donors from all over the world. Each of the eight galleries presents a different chapter of the story of Polish Jews, enabling visitors to come into intimate contact with those who lived each story through images, artifacts, first-person accounts, and interactive multimedia.
The Museum stands in what was once the heart of Jewish Warsaw – an area which the Nazis turned into the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. This significant location, coupled with the Museum’s proximity to the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes, demanded extreme thoughtfulness on the part of the building’s designers, who carefully crafted a structure that has become a symbol of the new face of Warsaw. The design by the Finnish studio Lahdelma & Mahlamäki was selected in an international competition. In 2008, with the building still under construction, it received the prestigious Chicago Athenaeum International Architecture Award (2008).
Jerzy Halbersztadt oversaw all of the Association’s work in creating the Museum of the History of Polish Jews from 1999 to 2011, initially as Project Director and then as the Association’s Coordinator for the Museum, and in the years 2006-2011 as the Museum’s first director. As such, he played a major role in creating the Museum, including its design and construction.