POLIN Museum collection

One of the most important tasks of the POLIN Museum is to collect objects that represent the heritage of Polish Jews. The museum collection includes items related to religious practices (Judaica), works of art, as well as historical collections and archaeological artefacts. A digital collection or objects created from scratch with the use of digital techniques are a separate part of the collection. Those are, e.g., oral history recordings and contemporary photographic documentation of Jewish monuments.

POLIN Museum collection in numbers:

  • Exhibits and archives (including deposits): 17,500 items

  • Digital collection: over 1,000 oral history recordings, 70,000 photographs documenting material heritage, 362,000 archival iconography

  • Library collection: 15,000 items

Judaica in the collection of the POLIN Museum are mainly objects used during religious practices. Those are, e.g., candlesticks, decorative herb containers (containers for storing fragrant herbs) or Kiddush cups used during supper. The museum's collection also includes items directly related to prayer, such as ataras decorated with silver embroidery or velvet bags to keep a tallit (prayer shawl) after prayer.

The works of art collection of the POLIN Museum includes works from the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as contemporary ones. The works are related to the heritage of Polish Jews through the biography of the authors (works by Roman Kramsztyk, Marek Szwarc, Franciszka Themerson, Ewa Kuryluk, Elżbieta Nadel, etc.) or through the undertaken subject - in the case of works by contemporary artists: Wilhelm Sasnal, Jadwiga Sawicka or Hubert Czerepok.

The historical and archive collection is the largest group of items in the collection of the museum. Among them, there are historical objects and personal memorabilia or archives. This collection documents the history of Polish Jews (from the second half of the 19th century  to the present day). It is the history presented from the perspective of the community, as well as of families or individuals. The collection includes items for everyday use (such as cutlery, crockery or clothes), as well as photographs, personal documents, manuscripts and letters. Collections of a personal nature are often supplemented by oral history recordings and digital documentation.

The digital collection consist of photographic documentation of material Jewish heritage, oral history recordings, and digitised iconographic archives. The collection also includes biographical and problem studies created for our knowledge portals Virtual Shtetl and The Polish Righteous.

We collect and publish documentation of Jewish objects of material culture from Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Latvia (historical regions of Polish Inflanty Voivodeship and Courland). The collection includes photographs of synagogues in former Hasidic centres as and unique wooden synagogues in Pokroje, Rzeżyca and Lucyn. We have photographic documentation of monuments, memorial sites and Holocaust centres taken with a drone. Those include images of monuments in Kraków and Lublin and the synagogue complex in Włodawa.

In the collected reports in the form of audio and video recordings, we document the fate of Polish Jews from the perspective of everyday life and personal experience of the interviewees: mainly Jewish emigrants from Poland, their descendants, representatives of the contemporary Jewish community in Poland. Among the collected reports, we have an extensive and unique collection of interviews with the participants and witnesses of the events of March '68, compared to other cultural institutions, (160 recordings obtained between 2016 and 2020), a collection of interviews with Polish Righteous among the Nations (over 400 testimonies recorded between 2007 and 2020) and a collection of interviews with the Donors of the Museum (over 140 interviews done systematically since 2013).  Additionally, the digital collection of the Museum includes a set of photographs and family memoirs "Polish Roots in Israel"(more than 1,300 interviews and more than 24,000 photographs from the period from 1880 to 1960).

Working on the POLIN Museum's collection

The development of the POLIN Museum's collection - acquiring new objects and maintaining the existing ones - makes it possible to preserve and honour the memory of individuals as well as whole communities of Polish Jews. The specialists from the Museum, while taking care of the objects carry out substantive studies (they create documentation for the objects, e.g., describe the stories related to them). They subject the items to the necessary conservation works, restore their condition, and ensure appropriate conditions while the items are stored.

Equally important are the digitisation of the items (digital documentation) and the dissemination of the acquired knowledge so that it can be used by new audiences and subsequent generations. Thanks to those practices, the collections can be seen via, e.g., website or Virtual Shtetl and The Polish Righteous portals (more about the popularisation of the museum collection Our specialists constantly develop digital collections, including historical studies, the oral history collection and photographic documentation of material heritage. They maintain inventories of digital files and archive them on an ongoing basis.

We encourage you to read the POLIN Museum's collection policy - a document that sets the directions for the development of the POLIN Museum's collection, in force from 2021.

Would you like to help us develop the collection? 

  • Find out how you can donate an item to our collection!

Would you like to support us with a donation?

*in the case of donations over PLN 30, you can indicate a specific purpose for which the donated amount is to be allocated. This information should be included in the title of the transfer. Donations related to the development of the collection can be used for the following purposes:

  1. Art collection and acquisition of museum objects;
  2. Virtual Shtetl portal;
  3. The Polish Righteous portal.