Museum and the Community - Museum of Polish History
A meeting with Robert Kostro and Maria Kobielska

  • Museum and the Community - Museum of Polish History

The Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw would like to invite you to the last meeting in the „Museum and the Community” series, organized in cooperation with the University of Warsaw’s Institute of Polish Culture.

The meeting will be a chance to get to know the program guidelines and architectural design of the building and the exhibition at the Museum of Polish History. We will host a discussion with Robert Kostro, the Museum’s director, and dr. Maria Kobielska from the Jagiellonian University’s Research Center for Memory Cultures. The meeting will be led by Szymon Maliborski.

The Museum of Polish History, established in 2006, has the chance to become one of the most important institutions shaping Polish memory culture and implementing historical policies. The moment when its collection is being gathered and materialized, and the main exhibition is taking shape, is a good opportunity to ask questions about building its audience – or community? – and a position from which the museum wishes to negotiate how Poland’s history is perceived.

Modern historical museums are often seen as “memory devices”, a complicated, multimedia apparatus whose cultural function is to generate, strengthen and modify memory practices. How do the creators of the Museum of Polish History see the model of a modern historical museum in a situation where this type of institution has been functioning for a dozen years, gaining both praise and criticism from museum specialists?

During the meeting we will be especially interested in the issues of building a narrative of my/our history, if it were to be inclusive – if various Poles could identify with it. What would be its conditions and who would be the narrative’s main subject (a community defined by ethnicity, culture, nationality)? What is the Museum’s perspective on the common, multicultural heritage of the Republic of Poland, who are we negotiating the narrative with and against, especially if we declare openness to other points of view presented by neighboring ethnic communities? How can antagonism be written into the exhibition model, and which antagonism?

Robert Kostro

historian, publicist, director of the Museum of Polish History in Warsaw since 2006. He graduated from the University of Warsaw’s History Department. He worked as the director of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland and director of the office of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage. He was the general commissioner of the Europalia 2001 Polska festival and co-founder as well as programming director of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute. He is a member of the Research Council of the National Ossoliński Institute. His articles have been published by „Rzeczpospolita”, „Gazeta Wyborcza”, „Życie”, „Tygodnik Powszechny”, „Przegląd Polityczny” and „Więź”, among others. He has co-written books, for instance with Rafał Maryja („Świat polityki, dyplomacji, idei – słownik podręczny”) and with Tomasz Merta („Pamięć i odpowiedzialność”).

Dr. Maria Kobielska

culture and literature specialist. She works at the Jagiellonian University’s Faculty of Polish Studies, as an assistant at the Literature Anthropology and Cultural Studies Department. She wrote a monograph on Jerzy Fickowski’s work, as well as numerous articles. Her research interests include contemporary Polish culture in the context of memory, the past and politics. IBL PAN is publishing her book on Polish memory culture in the 21st century this year. She was born in Silesia and lives in Cracow.

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