12 June 2016

Press conference announced for Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk

Category: Conferences, Meeting, Polish historiography, Holocaust, Discussion, News, Military history, Social history, Memory studies, Historical Policy


The announcement for the much-anticipated first view of the museum's newly completed building establishes the date for 29 June. Accredited participants will tour the existing facilities of the impressive building on Wałowa Street near the Gdańsk waterfront, which stands some 40 meters tall and extends almost as far below ground.

Numerous large-scale artifacts from the permanent collection have already been installed, before construction was completed, as was required by their scale, while production of the extensive permament collection continues towards the museum's projected opening in early 2017.

After the tour, the press will meet with the museum's directorship and members of its advisory board. The event is being held as the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage continues to delay approval of the permanent exhbition's content and design – and continues to suggest major alterations that could include combining the museum, which has been in development since 2009, with the recently founded Museum of Westerplatte project, while suggesting that these changes could include new directorship of the institution.

International responses to those proposed changes, in publications ranging from the Financial Times to US News & World report, are compiled here. Commentators including the FT editorial board, the Associated Press and Yale historian Timothy Snyder – a member of the Gdańsk museum's advisory board – have responded with detailed indignation to what they view as interference on the part of the Polish government with the new historical institution in Gdańsk, as it prepares to provide the most comprehensive analysis of the Second World War's many conflicting historical threads and fronts.

International historians on the advisory board who are scheduled to participate in the press conference on 29 June include Ulrich Herbert (Germany), Pavel Polian (Russia), Elie Barnavi (Romania) and Professor Snyder. Also involved are the mayor of Gdańsk, Paweł Adamowicz, who has said the city will reconsider its land donation to the project if the existing museum is altered by the ministry, and donors of artifacts who are similarly committed to the existing project. In an article in the Gdańsk press, these donors stated that they would reclaim their donations of historical material to the permanent exhbition if the ministry carries through with major changes.

An interview from March 2016 with the museum's founding director, Paweł Machcewicz, about developing the museum project and its broader aims, is here. At the museum's website are several statements by Director Machcewicz in response to the ministry's position and delays that have been provoked in the museum's final preparations before opening in early 2017.


Source: Museum of the Second World War

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