Director of new Polish museum provides status report in two local talks

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Dariusz Stola, director of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, spoke at Stanford University and U.C. Berkeley last week to give an update on the Warsaw museum, which is set to open to the public on Oct. 28. The visits marked the start of a U.S. tour for Stola, who officially began his job on March 1.

Dariusz Stola

In his remarks, Stola called his 140,000-square-foot institution, which had a soft opening last year, “the most technologically advanced museum in Eastern Europe and Europe in general.” The centerpiece of the core exhibition is a close-to-scale replica of a 17th-century wooden synagogue.

“When you enter the building,” he said of the museum located on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto, “you immediately realize the museum is not about death and dying. It’s about life. It is trying to immerse the visitors in a glorious, fantastic, rich, colorful, lively past, a unique civilization that Jews in Poland built over almost 1,000 years of their massive presence.”

Stola is a historian who has published nine books and more than 100 articles on international migrations in the 20th century, the communist regime in Poland, the Holocaust and Polish-Jewish relations. He was a professor of history at the Polish Academy of Sciences

The Bay Area–based Taube Philanthropies and Koret Foundation are the largest private donors to the museum. They have secured nearly $20 million in grants for the museum, and the museum’s eight-gallery core exhibition and education center will be named in their honor.