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2011-04-22

The director of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews resigned

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Jerzy Halbersztadt, the main co-creator of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, who headed its creation process from the very beginning has resigned, justifying his decision at the press conference of April 21st mainly due to the economic condition of the museum.


For several years, the team of the museum has not been able to evolve due to economic stagnation caused by lesser financial help from public funds. The decision of the Minister of Culture with regard to a donation granted for the year 2012 has overflowed the proverbial cup of bitterness. These funds would hardly cover additional costs of transfer and maintenance of the building (which is due for completion in 2012.) Additionally, the current team of the museum, which truly needs expanding, would have to be reduced. This situation is not to mention the moment when we start working at the new base of the museum. Today, at the assembly of the Museum Support Committee, it has transpired that the vice Minister of Culture, who has also been present at the meeting, has not had any positive news regarding this issue; although he has admitted that the current funds are insufficient to open the museum. The committee’s members have called for such a transfer of the financial means that would allow solving the problems of the museum, highlighting at the same time the importance of this project for Poland. The Jewish Historical Institute Association, which frequently has improved the museum’s situation thanks to donations from private individuals, needs to focus on fund raising to pay for the production of the core exhibition, which also poses a significant problem, said Director Jerzy Halbersztadt.

A few weeks ago, when the tension concerning the Museum of the History of Polish Jews reached public awareness, Marcin Święcicki, the President of the Museum Support Committee, called on the Minister of Culture to act sensibly and wisely when taking a decision concerning completion of the works on the museum project.


‘I am worried to hear the news from the press spokesman of the ministry about the announced future change on the position of the Director at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Jerzy Halbersztadt has managed the museum project for fourteen years, including the first heroic years, when the museum was not yet co-financed with public funds,’ wrote Święcki in his official letter. Director Halbersztadt has greatly contributed to creating the modern program concept and to forming the museum’s team that was initiating culture and education projects of the museum in advance and working on the core exhibition. He also has his hand in organizing and adjudicating the architecture competition, the result of which is the extraordinary edifice which decorates present-day Warsaw.

‘It is due to Director Halbersztadt, a historian with an expert knowledge of Polish-Jewish relations, that the project Museum of the History of Polish Jews has become credible not only in Poland but also abroad, which is of great importance for promoting the modern image of our country in the world,’ opined Święcicki.


Artists, such as Andrzej Wajda and Janusz Morgenstern, former Ministers of Culture Izabella Cywińska and Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa, as well as Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz and Jerzy Kropiwnicki have taken the side of Jerzy Halbersztadt, who headed the project of the Museum for fifteen years. The authors of the letter say the director managed to lead it through hard times. Being the main author of the concept program, he also worked out the main guidelines of the architectural program and led to selecting the building which is now under construction and has won wide recognition. He created the team and was in charge of preparing the complete version of the core exhibition project, which, a few months ago, was approved to be initiated by the Museum Council. The official letter expressly says that Jerzy Halbersztadt, thanks to the trust he won among many donors from the world, has managed to collect the majority of the funds needed to cover the production of the core exhibition and the current activity of the Museum. They also state that he is an expert committed to the idea of the Polish-Jewish dialogue, in which all of us believe as well.

‘I am proud of the achievements of the international and extremely professional team which I managed to form and engage in the project. I am also glad to have won the support of the societies of many countries. I did my job as long as I could. I wish our effects of our mutual work would not be wasted and will be continued. I will do my best to give a helping hand to those who will bear the responsibility and the entire burden of this task on themselves. I wish good luck to all friends and co-creators of the museum,’ said Halbersztadt.


 

 Source: Museum of the History of Polish Jews .

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