Report: 15 thousand visitors during the Open Days!

On October 28-30, concerts, workshops, film screenings and encounters with the Core Exhibition creators attracted crowds of visitors to the Museum.

The Open Days were a joint feast of the Museum visitors, employees and all people engaged in creating the Core Exhibition. For three days, we were celebrating the opening of the exhibition entitled A Thousand-Year History of Polish Jews.

We began the celebrations with an unforgettable evening concert under the slogan of Playing Openly performed in the square next to the Museum. Almost 2 thousand people watched the live event taking place on two stages and on the building façade, and nearly 30 thousand observed it online.

In the first part, we heard the legendary New York clarinettist David Krakauer, one of the chief exponents of the revival of traditional Jewish music.

The musician recalled his relations with Poland (members of his family came from Lvov and Bielsk Podlaski) and played compositions containing a wide spectrum of emotions, from nostalgia to joy and fun. He was accompanied on the stage by Michael Sarin, Jerome Harris, Sheryl Bailey, Rob Schwimmer and Keepalive.

When the first part ended, the audience switched their attention to another stage where actors, singers (including Natalia Sikora, Katarzyna Dąbrowska, Piotr Machalica and Mietek Szcześniak) and students from the Warsaw Academy of Dramatic Art played an exceptionally moving performance under the title We, Polish Jews directed by Andrzej Strzelecki under the musical direction of Marek Stefankiewicz.

Particularly acute was a solo performance of Natalia Sikora who presented a very original, rapacious arrangement of the song entitled Tych lat nie odda nikt (These Years Will Not Be Returned) from Irena Santor’s repertoire. The artist provided the song with an entirely new meaning, singing it out of the stage, under a huge maple tree facing directly the Museum façade.

The grand finale of the evening was Tomasz Stańko’s performance of the Polin Suite which he composed especially for the Museum. He was assisted by an excellent group consisting of Ravi Coltrane, David Virelles, Dezron Douglas and Kush Abadey.

“If one was to describe the different sequences of the opening performance triptych, then the first part may be characterised as epitomising energy, vitality and tradition, the second for memory and history, and the third for hope and the present”, says Andrzej Strzelecki.

The opening performance was not only a feast of sound; it was accompanied by incredible visualisations projected onto the Museum façade, turning it into a gigantic, three-dimensional screen. Scenes from the forest, teeming with Jewish legends, quivering timelines, windows onto the past and future, a dance of a drop of water, and bursts of energy representing the revival of Jewish culture, appeared in those images.

The concert was followed by the opening of the Core Exhibition for general public. On the very first night, it was visited by about 2 700 people, and during next two days that number increased up to 15 thousand.

Many guests of the Open Days participated also in 30 accompanying events. They included the temporary exhibition How to Make a Museum? and the screening of the film entitled Raise the Roof: the Gwoździec Synagogue.

There were also possibilities to discuss the Core Exhibition through, for instance, a participation in the debate The Core Exhibition – A Story in Many Voices, concerning main assumptions of the exposition, undertaking a challenge to meet the Exhibition’s curators (Eight Galleries, Eight Stories) or attending a lecture delivered by Prof. Antony Polonsky, the chief historian of the POLIN Museum.

A chance of experiencing strong emotions came, on the other hand, with screenings of six films on Jewish identity combined with encounters with their creators and protagonists, as well as with meetings with the history’s witnesses.

Those willing to obtain a better knowledge of the Museum and of the history of Polish Jews could compete in a museum game entitled Polin: History From A to Ż, take part in family workshops entitled The Jewish Town and The Street or visit a newly opened Resource Centre. A Chill-out Zone awaited the people overwhelmed with emotions where they could relax while watching old silent films or listening to music.

The performance of the Polin Choir also attracted a big audience. The Choir was created especially for the occasion by inhabitants of Warsaw – professional musicians and amateurs; the young, grown up and senior citizens. For several months, the choir directed by Sean Palmer, an independent British artist was preparing its own composition inspired by the Polin legend.

Also the Museum Cafeteria was reverberating with music. Each of the Open Days ended with a concert in the club. The performers included David Krakauer, Ircha, Adam Bałdych and Yaron Herman, Bartosz Dworak and Klezzmates. Paweł Szamburski presented his project called Ceratitis Capatita in the Forest Gallery.

The night-time DJ event dubbed Balagan Meshuge Party Warsaw attracted a truly huge crowd and it ultimately ended around 2.00 a. m.