Museum of the History of Polish Jews – it is a new, ultramodern cultural museum on the map of Warsaw. It is situated at 6 Mordechaja Danielewicza Street in the place which was former Jewish district and also later on Warsaw Ghetto. The museum is a place dedicated to all those who are interested in heritage of Polish Jews and it is a symbol of breakthrough in Polish-Jewish relations during 1000 years history from Medieval times up till now. It is a place of meetings of people who want to know the past and current Jewish culture. The interactive exhibition was opened in October 2014 which means that it is one of the newest museums in the capital. The exhibition has 8 galleries of 4 200 m2 common area. These include: Forest (legends about beginning of Jews in Poland), First meetings (960-1500), Paradisus ludaeorum (1597-1648), Town (1648-1772), Modern Challenges (1772-1914), At Jewish street (1918-1939), Holocaust (1939-1945) and Postwar Period (1944 up till now). The galleries include 73 multimedia stands, 120 multimedia passive stands, 170 historic exhibits and 200 copies and models. The museum can be visited by 800 guests at a time. POLIN is an impressive modern museum which you really must see during your visit in Warsaw.
The museum is located at Mordechaja Anielewicza Street. In the center of Warsaw - in a pre-war district inhabited mainly by Jews, and during the war transformed into a ghetto by the Germans. The museum brings back the memory of their rich culture and heritage.
The slogan POLIN is closely related to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. In Hebrew and Yiddish it means "Poland", but also "here you will rest". According to legend, Jews escaping from various European countries in the 10th / 11th century were to hear these words from the singing birds when they arrived in Poland.
The museum is located in a building erected in 2009–2013 according to the design of a team of Finnish architects led by Rainer Mahlamäki, who received the first prize in an international architectural competition concluded in 2005. It is considered an architectural gem. It was designed on a square plan and its outer part was covered with glass panels. The building has four overground and two underground levels. Its height is 21 meters. The total area of the building is 18.3 thousand square meters m², and the cubature of 123 thousand m³.
The facility started operating in the new premises in April 2013, and the permanent exhibition was opened in October 2014.
The permanent exhibition "1000 Years of the History of Polish Jews" is located in the basement of the building. It is devoted to the history of Polish Jews from the Middle Ages to the present day. On the ground and first floors there are: a multifunctional auditorium with 480 seats, temporary exhibition halls, an educational center, an information center, a children's space, a museum shop, and a museum restaurant serving Jewish cuisine.
The permanent exhibition covers two interconnected underground storeys of the museum building. It has an area of approximately 4,200 m². The interactive exhibition consists of eight thematic galleries. It presents chronologically a thousand years of the history of Polish Jews against the background of the most important events in the history of Poland.
The first gallery introduces the visitor on a journey through a thousand years of history through legends and stories about the first Jewish arrivals in Poland. It tells a legend about the arrival and settlement of Jews in Mieszko's country, including the beautiful legend of Po-lin, to which we owe the name of Poland in Hebrew. In this way, Poland for a thousand years became their largest European home.
First meetings gallery (960-1500)
The second gallery presents events from the earliest period of Jewish settlement in Poland. At first, Jewish settlers formed small clusters near the strongholds. Over time, they settled in cities. The next part of the gallery is devoted, inter alia, to the first Jewish settlement in Poland. About 100 Polish cities where Jews lived in 1500 are marked on the map. The hallmark of the gallery are beautiful paintings and decorations, made by hand by Polish conservators.
Paradisus Iudaeorum Gallery (1569–1648)
The third gallery presents the fate of Jews in Poland during the period considered to be the golden age of the Jewish community in Poland. The central element of this gallery is an interactive model of Krakow and Kazimierz, presenting the rich culture of the local Jewish community. The history of Jewish printing in Krakow and Lublin is also presented here. The virtual library presents masterpieces of Hebrew and Yiddish literature in a multimedia form: the Talmud, as well as religious, philosophical and moral works.
Town Gallery (1648-1772)
The fourth gallery presents the history of Polish Jews from the Chmielnicki Uprising to the Partitions of Poland on the example of a typical borderland town where the Jewish population constituted a significant part of the inhabitants. Its central element is a beautiful reconstruction of the roof and vault of the wooden synagogue from Gwoździec and the bimah from there - the platform from which the Torah is read. They were recreated using the tools, materials and working methods used in the 17th century. The gallery also recreated, among others, the interior of a Jewish house, an inn and a market.
The Challenges of Modernity Gallery (1772–1914)
This part of the exhibition presents the period of the partitions, when the Jews shared the fate of the state divided between Austria, Prussia and Russia. It also shows the great role that Jewish entrepreneurs such as Izrael Kalmanowicz Poznański in Łódź played in the industrial revolution in Poland. Visitors will sit here around an interactive table on the thrones of the three empires. There, they will learn about the history of the partitions and their consequences for Jews. At the 19th-century railway station, they will see the history of mass migrations, learn about the role of Jews in the industrial revolution - creating factories and building a railway network. The great flourishing of secular Yiddish culture is represented by the writer Icchok Lejb Perec.
On the Jewish Street Gallery (1918-1939)
This part of the gallery is devoted to the period of the Second Polish Republic, considered to be the second golden age in the history of Polish Jews. The name of the gallery also describes its character - it is a Jewish street whose frontages are made of multimedia facades of tenement houses. From the street, visitors will be able to enter the gates, where in subsequent parts of the gallery - cinema or cafes - they will discover the rich cultural and political life of that period, learn about the problems of everyday life in provincial cities and the growing up of a new generation of Jews born in independent Poland.
Holocaust Gallery (1939–1945)
This gallery shows the horror of the Holocaust, as a result of which approximately 90% of 3.3 million Polish Jews were killed. Much space is devoted to the history of the Warsaw ghetto - the largest of the approx. 600 ghettos established by the Germans in occupied Poland. The gallery also presents the participants and decisions of the Wannsee conference, the functioning and victims of the German death camps established in occupied Poland, as well as various reactions of Poles to the extermination of Jews. Due to the difficult subject matter, the decision to visit this gallery by children under 12 leaves the museum to their parents and guardians.
Postwar Gallery (from 1944 to today)
This gallery shows the period from the liberation of Poland until today. In the uncertain post-war times, the pressing issue for them was the choice between staying in the country or leaving. Those who stayed in Poland engaged in the reconstruction of the country and the devastated life of the Jewish community, as well as in preserving the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The gallery will present, among others the history of the creation and unveiling of the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes in 1948. During the anti-Semitic campaign in March 1968, many Jews were forced to leave the country. It presents the reasons for the anti-Semitic campaign that has been growing since 1967, reports on the March events, as well as testimonies and memorabilia of March emigrants and their reflections from the period just after their departure from Poland.
The museum functions as a traditional museum and cultural and educational center. In addition to the museum activity, focused on the permanent exhibition and temporary exhibitions, the Museum organizes, among others, lectures, seminars and discussion panels, meetings with people of art and culture, meetings with people who remember the times of the Holocaust, but also concerts, theater performances and workshops for children. Organizes and co-organizes events related to supporting tolerance and diversity. The museum also conducts activities aimed at creating and making available collections of oral history from the Second World War related to the fate of Polish Jews.