The idea to create a Museum of the History of Polish Jews emerged at the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute. This idea soon secured support both in Poland and abroad. Because of the generous help of individual and institutional donors from all over the world, the works on a project of the Museum commenced in 1995 and continued as a social initiative until 2005. It was then that the Museum of the History of Polish Jews was formally instituted under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Poland, Aleksander Kwaśniewski.
For the construction of the Museum to be a success, a broad international network of supporters was established. Thanks to the financial support received mainly from private donors as well as foundations from the United States, Germany, Great Britain, and Poland, the final project of the future Museum was completed, and a unique documentation on Polish Judaism, both locally and abroad, was collected. These relationships with both private donors and international foundations were crucial for obtaining the funds necessary to design and produce the core exhibition that we have today.
POLIN Museum is the first public-private partnership in Poland, created jointly by the government, the local government, and a non-governmental organization. Under a tripartite agreement signed on January 25, 2005, by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, the Mayor of Warsaw, and the Chairman of the Association of the JHI, the public party financed, i.a., the construction of the building and its equipment. The Association of the JHI was responsible for financing and organizing the process of producing the core exhibition. (For more details, go to: Public-private partnership.)
POLIN Museum is a modern cultural institution – a narrative museum which presents a 1000-year history of Polish Jews. It is also a place for meetings and conversations for all of those eager to learn more about the past and present Jewish culture, to confront the stereotypes, and to face the perils of today’s world such as xenophobia and nationalistic prejudices. By promoting openness, tolerance, and truth, POLIN Museum contributes to the mutual understanding and respect amongst Poles and Jews.
Jerzy Halbersztadt, the first Director of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, played a major role in its creation. From 1999 to 2011, he oversaw all of the Association’s work in creating the Museum, initially working as the Project Director and then as the Association’s Coordinator for the Museum. It was from 2006 until 2011 that he was the Museum’s first director. He was then succeeded by Agnieszka Rudzińska, who was the Museum’s Acting Director until June of 2012. Andrzej Cudak was then appointed as the Museum Director until succeeded by the Museum’s current Director, Professor Dariusz Stola.