POLIN Curator to Visit U-M

Above, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews (photo by Wojciech Krynski). Below, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (photo by Marta Kusmierz)

On January 13, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, chief curator of the core exhibition of POLIN, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, will speak on “Rising from the Rubble: Creating the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.” The event will take place at 5:30 pm at the U-M Museum of Art’s Stern Auditorium.

“The core exhibition at POLIN recovers the thousand-year history of Polish Jews and tells the story in the very place where it happened,” Kirshenblatt-Gimblett explained. “The museum completes the memorial complex. We go to the Monument for the Ghetto Heroes to honor those who perished by remembering how they died. We come to POLIN Museum to honor them and those who came before and after by remembering how they lived.”

Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is university professor emerita and professor emerita of performance studies at New York University. She is the author of several acclaimed books, including Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage; Image before My Eyes: A Photographic History of Jewish Life in Poland, 1864–1939; The Art of Being Jewish in Modern Times; and They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust, which she co-authored with her late father, Mayer Kirshenblatt. She has received many awards for her work, including a recent medal from the president of Poland for her contribution to the creation of POLIN.

Her visit is the latest event planned as part of an official partnership established last year between the museum and the Copernicus Program in Polish Studies (CPPS), along with the Frankel Center. The agreement facilitates collaboration on research exchanges for faculty, as well as pedagogic activities for U-M students.

“POLIN is a very important cultural institution,” noted Geneviève Zubrzycki, director of CPPS and a Frankel Institute fellow. “The museum pointedly shows that the current intrinsic Catholicity of Poland is the exception instead of the rule in Polish history. Polish visitors therefore learn that Poland was and can be different than it currently is, and that it can live relatively peacefully with others without any threat to their own identity.”

Kirshenblatt-Gimblett has served as a consultant for many museums, including the Jewish Museum in Berlin, the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. Yet she insists that POLIN is unique.

“POLIN Museum is a gesamtkunstwerk, a remarkable integration of a memorial site, fitting architecture, and innovative multimedia narrative exhibition,” she said. “Nowhere else is this story told in this way. And there is no more appropriate place to tell this story.”

(Frankely Speaking, December 2015)

Lecture Series Slated for February 

The Frankel Institute will be back at the JCC of Metropolitan Detroit this winter for a free lecture series on "Wrestling with Angels: The Struggle between the Sacred and the Secular in Jewish Life."

When: February 3, 10, 17, and 24 at 7 pm

Where: 6600 W. Maple Rd., West Bloomfield

Fellows and Lectures:

Shaul Kelner, "Freedom Seders and Matzohs of Hope: Ritual and Politics in the American Movement for Soviet Jews"

Eva Mroczek, "The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Lost Scriptures of Early Judaism"

Scott Spector, "Two Vultures: Freud between 'Jewish Science' and Humanism"

Geneviève Zubrzycki, "Making Sense of the 'Jewish Revival' in Poland"

Co-sponsored by: Seminars for Adult Jewish Enrichment (SAJE)