Visiting Polin part I: Remembrance Policy

Remembrance Policy – was the topic of the first meeting of the series “The Polish Jews: Shouts and Whispers”, which was held on Thursday, February 19 at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Poland. The museum was opened to the public in April 2013. It currently functions as a cultural and educational center with a cultural program, including temporary exhibitions, films, debates, workshops, performances, concerts, lectures and other events. The Core Exhibition, presenting the thousand-year history of Polish Jews, has been opened on October 28, 2014.

“Remembrance Policy refers to appropriating and taming of history by various parties. We want to show that POLIN is an open place, a place of polemical debate” – noted the coordinator of the series of debates, Małgorzata Pakier. The reference point is the core exhibition at the museum. “We’ll talk about it from the perspective of psychology and ethics of memory. Since the opening of the exhibition, in October last year, was palpable tension and expectation from different sides. These expectations had to be met. Now we ask for whom is this exhibition and what voice is this?” – she continued. “History of the Jews in Poland is still not overworked, and so alive. Discussion antagonisms are better than ritualized forms of commemoration”- concluded Małgorzata Pakier. The Polish Radio RDC transmitted live the whole debate and it is available now in podcast on the website http://rdc.pl/informacje

Indeed, the polemical debate was passionate and touched the audience, so that a few guests took voice and presented their own point of view, related to their life stories and their family’s experience during and after the II World War. It was a very interesting experience to listen to the debate via radio, just a day after visiting POLIN for the first time. The head was full of fresh memories and reflection. I agree that there is a luck of a Jewish cultural context at the very beginning of the core exhibition. I am one of those museum visitors who still needs and expects a general overview/ a brief introduction into the main subject instead of having an interactive or quasi-interactive play on words, narrations, depictions. But the further we go through the exhibition, the better.

POLIN

Nevertheless, time travelling through ten centuries is tiring when you are truly interested in exploring the past, hence, I would suggest to divide it into several parts to have a break, take a deep breath and refresh mind. And I would rather prefer thematic order, e.g. Jewish merchants and traders in Poland, Jewish cultural heritage in Poland, Jewish scientists and discoveries in Poland etc., instead of chronological one, since chronology is obvious. Tracing and detecting a cultural phenomenon or cultural symbols in various contexts is more demanding, more involving, more memorable. Besides, I also agree that such place – a cultural and educational center, an international meeting point, is needed. I hope that with its great potential it will meet the high social, local and global, expectations.

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