The collections of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews bring the past into focus and point the way to the future.
At the basis of the Museum’s activity lies the action of gathering, which is not merely a static activity consisting of keeping artifacts in storage rooms in order to ensure their protection, but making these items available to the public. The Museum collection is not a closed, isolated entity, accessible only to a small group of specialists. It serves as a creative aid in the Museum’s educational and cultural programs, and as a means of shaping individual opinions. To fulfill our mission, our collection will be displayed both within the framework of the Core Exhibition and temporary exhibitions. The Museum’s collection is also available online through the Central Judaica Database online catalogue.
The Museum of the History of Polish Jews has a rich and varied collection of over three thousand artifacts related to Jewish heritage. Our collection is made up of objects of unique artistic and historical value, including artworks – from the eighteenth-century engravings of Jean-Pierre Norblin to the work of modern artists such as Ewa Kuryluk, Ryszard Horowitz, Tadeusz Rolke and Maciej Lachur; handicrafted artifacts, especially those that bear testimony to Jewish religion and culture: Chanukah lamps, ataras (decorative tallit neckbands), parochet (curtains covering the Aron haKodesh in a synagogue), or two-handled cups used for ritual hand washing. Memorabilia forms the largest part of the collection, including photographs, postcards, printed matter, ephemera, personal and historical documents, gramophone records and items of use, often connected to incredible, moving stories told by those who donated them.
We have been building our collection since 2006, by purchasing items, but also – above all – through Memorabilia Collection Programs conducted in Poland and Israel. Thanks to these programs, the objects gathered are often related to the history of a family or an individual. When receiving items, we always try to record donors’ stories and their accounts of the role of the object in their family history. Many items are also placed at the Museum as deposits. It is our task to ensure that they are safely stored, inventoried, conserved, digitalized, and annotated in order to serve current and future generations.