The Development Director of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute, Grażyna Pawlak, attends the opening of the Holocaust Museum in Washington. Upon her return she suggests opening a Life Museum associated with SŻIH. The Museum is to present the history of Jews in Poland.
First actions promoting the project of the Museum in Poland and abroad.
Former Israeli President Chaim Herzog and President of the Lauder Foundation Ronald S. Lauder co-chair the newly appointed International Honorary Committee. Soon, the committee is joined by leaders of world Jewish organisations and politicians (among them Jan Nowak-Jeziorański, Jan Karski, and Zbigniew Brzeziński. Hillary Clinton, Stuart E. Eizenstat, Shevah Weiss and Gerzon Zohar also express their support for the project). The Committee’s objective is to spread the idea of the Museum project, attract international organisations and coordinate actions at an international level.
The inauguration of the Museum project - and its first foreign presentation - take place during a reception at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York. Over 150 eminent guests from all over the world are present.
Beginning of cooperation between the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute and Yeshayahu Weinberg, former Director and creator of the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv and the Holocaust Museum in Washington. Yeshayahu Weinberg prepares the project’s general conception and budget.
Warsaw authorities designate a location for the Museum in the vicinity of the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes.
Inauguration of the German Association of Friends of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The organising meeting is held in the Berlin residence of the German President Roman Herzog. It is attended by the President of Warsaw, Marcin Święcicki, the SŻIH Director, Grażyna Pawlak and several prominent politicians and directors of leading German foundations. President Herzog holds honorary patronage over the German Association of Friends of the Museum.
The Polish Museum Development Committee is founded, headed by the President of Warsaw Marcin Święcicki.
SŻIH, along with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, organise an international conference entitled “The Role of History Museums in Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe” in Jabłonna near Warsaw.
The Board of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute formally appoints the Project Team for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
Yeshayahu Weinberg – Chairman,
Jacek Nowakowski – Deputy Chairman,
Jerzy Halbersztadt – Project Director,
Grażyna Pawlak – Promotion and Fundraising Director,
Professor Israel Gutman – Chairman of the Advisory Team of Historians,
Professor Feliks Tych – Director of the Jewish Historical Institute - Scientific Research Institute,
Eleonora Bergman - Deputy Director of the Jewish Historical Institute,
Yechiam Halevy - multi-media consultant,
Marjorie Federbush – consultant on cooperation with the US.
The Team’s task is to prepare the Museum’s programme, establish cooperation in Poland and abroad and manage implementation.
The Ronald Lauder Foundation provides initial funding, enabling the Project Team for the Museum to commence work.
The Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation provides a grant facilitating further work on the project.
The Capital City of Warsaw officially donates in perpetuity 13 000 sq. m. of land to the SŻIH, as a location for the Museum. The plot is located in the heart of pre-war Jewish quarter, opposite the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes.
The Project Team for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews organise a concert of the world famous cantor Joseph Malovany at the Royal Castle in Warsaw. It is the first promotional and fundraising event of this scale organised by the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The concert is attended by Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski, senior government figures, diplomats, and eminent culture and business figures. President Kwaśniewski becomes a honorary patron of the Museum project.
Archaeological works commence at the site designated for the Museum building.
The Association of the Jewish Historical Institute creates a project office for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Documentation and research work gets underway: thanks to a grant from the Polish government, a programme of documenting objects of Jewish ceremonial art in Poland, Europe, Israel and the US is launched. It is initially led by Eleonora Bergman Ph.D., and then by Renata Piątkowska Ph.D.. First historical studies are created. Work is coordinated by Piotr Koral (in the years 2001-2005 the Deputy Finance and Operating Director; between 2005 and May 2011 – the SŻIH Board plenipotentiary in charge of the development of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews).
1999 – 2000
The first draft of the history programme for the Core Exhibition is created by the Museum team, including Kalina Gawlas, Joanna Nalewajko and Renata Piątkowska Ph.D., in cooperation with the scientists: Professor Michael Steinlauf, Professor Marek Urbański and Professor Marcin Wodziński.
The British company Event Communications is appointed as the designer of the Museum’s Core Exhibition.
Event Communications commence work on the programme for the Core Exhibition.
The Museum of the History of Polish Jews logo is prepared, along with information brochures. The Museum bulletin is published on a regular basis.
During the International Holocaust Forum in Stockholm, Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski publicly expresses his support for the Museum project.
The first draft Master Plan (programme) for the Core Exhibition has been established: the most important topics have been chosen, as well as the key elements of the exhibition; the exhibition is divided into galleries corresponding with individual periods.
The creators of the Museum receive a letter from the Holy See, signed in the name of Pope John Paul II by Pedro Lopez Quintan from the Vatican Secretariat of State. In the letter, the Pope expresses his appreciation for the idea of the Museum and gives his blessing.
The Polonia Aid Foundation Trust, which is a fund of the former Polish government in exile in London, donates a grant towards development of the Museum. The grant is used to finance cooperation with Event Communications.
Ryszard Krauze of Prokom Investments makes a donation towards the Museum. It is the first grant donated to the Museum by Polish business.
The museum is promoted across the world. An important role is played by foreign committees of support for the Museum: in the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Holland, Israel and the US. Donations are raised.
Conference entitled “Unsettled Past” is organised under the auspices of Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz. It is attended by Israeli President Shimon Peres. Part of the conference involves presenting the progress on the development of the Museum. Professor Władysław Bartoszewski makes an appeal for official support for the Museum project.
The President of the Polish-Israeli Friendship Society, former Polish Foreign Minister, and a honorary citizen of the State of Israel, Professor Władysław Bartoszewski, meets with representatives of the Jewish community in New York to raise their support for the Museum.
International consultations of the Master Plan for the Core Exhibition. One of the resident consultants is Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Professor at the Department Institute of Performing Arts of the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, cultural anthropologist and expert in modern museum studies.
60th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. President of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski and President of Israel Moshe Katsav meet at the site of the future Museum.
Polish government declares its will to financially participate in the development of the Museum.
The Development Director of the Museum Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka and Professor Władysław Bartoszewski develop the operation of the French Committee for the Support of the Museum. French businesswoman Corinne Evens declares her help.
The North American Council of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews – NAC is founded and registered.
Nili Amit is appointed as the Coordinator for the Museum’s relations with Israel.
President of the City of Warsaw Lech Kaczyński, Minister of Culture and National Heritage Waldemar Dąbrowski and Deputy Chairman of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland Professor Jerzy Tomaszewski sign an agreement founding a joint cultural institution under the name of The Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The document is prepared by the lawyers: Roman Rewald of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, working pro bono for the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute and the Museum; for the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage - Wojciech Dziomdziora; and for the City of Warsaw – Mr. Marcin Dziurda.
The Association of the Jewish Historical Institute launches an international architectural competition for the design of the Museum building. The Association appoints an international jury headed by the architect Bohdan Paczowski (Luxembourg). Out of 119 entries, the jury shortlists 11 candidates who are invited to participate in workshops and to prepare a design for the competition.
The jury members:
- Architect Bohdan Paczowski, Luxembourg – Chairman,
- Professor Zvi Efrat, Head of Architecture Department at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design,
- Professor Kenneth Frampton, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University, New York,
- Jerzy Halbersztadt, representing the Board of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute, Director of the Museum Project,
- Architect Ryszard Jurkowski, President of the Board of the Union of Polish Architects (SARP), Katowice,
- Architect Marek Borowski, Chief Architect of the City of Warsaw,
- Professor Andrzej Rottermund, representing the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Poland, Director of the Royal Castle in Warsaw,
- Professor Robert Rykwert, Professor Emeritus at the Cambridge University and University of Pennsylvania,
- Architect Axel Sowa, Editor-in-Chief of “L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui”, Paris,
- Professor Feliks Tych, Director of the Jewish Historical Institute.
- Eleonora Bergman – Deputy Director of the Jewish Historical Institute,
- Krzysztof Jaraczewski – consultant to the Board of the Association of Jewish Historical Institute (President of the Józef Piłsudski Family Foundation; at present the Director of the Józef Piłsudski Museum in Sulejówek; grandson of Józef Piłsudski),
- Edward von Voolen – architect, Curator of the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam.
SŻIH shortlists 11 finalists, who will be asked to prepare designs:
- Andrzej Bulanda, Bulanda & Mucha Architekci + Centrala designers’ task force 
- David Chipperfield, David Chipperfield Architects, the United Kingdom 
- Marek Dunikowski, DDJM Biuro Architektoniczne, Poland 
- Peter Eisenman, Eisenman Architects, USA 
- Zvi Hecker, Zvi Hecker Architect, Israel/Germany 
- Kengo Kuma, Kengo Kuma&Associates, Japan 
- Daniel Libeskind, Studio Daniel Libeskind, USA 
- Rainer Mahlamäki, Architects Landelma& Mahlamäki, Finland 
- Josep Lluis Mateo, MAP Architects, Spain 
- Jesus Hernandez Mayor, Casanova+Hernandez Architects, Holland 
- Gesine Weinmiller, Weinmiller Architekten, Germany 
Announcement of the results of the architectural competition at the University of Warsaw Library. The winner is the Finnish architect Rainer Mahlamäki.
A PLN 20 million deposit is collected: on the basis of the 2005 agreement with the public partners, SŻIH is obliged to prepare the Core Exhibition or to provide the amount of PLN 20 million towards preparation of the Exhibition. In the agreement of 21/07/2006 SŻIH takes on a further obligation to provide a bank guarantee for the amount specified in the earlier contract. The following donors provide resources for the deposit: Wiktor Markowicz, Zygmunt Rolat, Tad Taube, Corinne Evens, Ruth Parasol, Tomek Ulatowski, Ygal Ozechov, Aleksander Goldberg, Maurice Bidermann, and Joseph and Jeanette Neubauer.
The North American Council of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews – NAC obtains a 501c3 status, which means donations to its account are exempt from tax, which gives the Council a significant advantage in its fundraising efforts.
The Museum launches a competition for young designers to create a temporary artistic installation. The installation is to herald the future Museum and provide information; it is to stand at the site of the future Museum building. 29 designs from several countries are entered for the competition. The jury is chaired by Anda Rottenberg. The competition is organised in cooperation with the Bęc Zmiana Foundation.
The winner of the competition is announced – it is the Ohel project by Polish architects from the Centrala designers’ task force: Małgorzata Kuciewicz, Krzysztof Banaszewski and Jakub Szczęsny, with cooperation from Dominik Strzelec. Ohel, which is Hebrew for “tent”, has broad connotations in Jewish culture. It symbolises the meeting. It’s shape is a reference to the shape of the future Museum. The installation will host presentations, discussions and artistic actions.
An appeal to Polish Business is signed at the headquarters of the Polish Confederation Lewiatan. In the appeal, the Polish Business Roundtable calls on Polish businesses to get involved in developing the Museum. The Committee for Development of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews is founded. Its task is to provide advice concerning contacts with the business sector and to promote the idea of the Museum. Committee members include: Henryka Bochniarz, Monika Bednarek, Roman Rewald, Krzysztof Rozen, Beata Stelmach, Robert Koński, Krzyszfot Opawski Ph.D., Artur Nowakowski, Iwona Büchner and Przemysław Aleksander Schmidt (from 2011 also Wioletta Rosołowska and Michael Jensen).
The Museum launches historical programmes devoted to private histories of Polish Jews: the Memorabilia Collection Programme, and two programmes recording oral history: Polish Roots in Israel and Recording the Jewish World in Poland.
Representatives of the President of the City of Warsaw, the Minister of Culture, the Chief Architect of the City of Warsaw and the Director of the Capital City’s Office for Urban Development Bogdan Romaniuk have signed a contract with Rainer Mahlamäki, regarding preparation of construction and technical documentation of the building. The contract was signed after several months of modifications to the design, in accordance with suggestions from the Museum team and the designers of the Core Exhibition. In accordance with the accepted practice, the Lahdelma& Mahlamäki Studio have chosen a partner architectural studio from Poland – the Kuryłowicz & Associates Architecture Studio.
Inauguration of the Ohel and cultural actions, which herald the educational, public, and culture-creating mission of the Museum.
In recognition of his vision, faith and financial generosity, Wiktor Markowicz is honored with the title of Founding Benefactor.
Preparing and finishing the Scheme Design for the Core Exhibition by the international team of scientists and designers from Event Communications.
The scientific team is led by Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett; its members include Professor Hanna Zaremska, Professor Marcin Wodziński, Professor Adam Teller, Professor Samuel D. Kassow, Professor Michael Steinlauf, Professor Barbara Engelking, Professor Jacek Leociak, Havi Ben-Sasson Ph.D., Helena Datner Ph.D., Professor Stanisław Krajewski, Kalina Gawlas, Renata Piątkowska Ph.D., Joanna Fikus, Judyta Pawlak, and Zuzanna Schnepf-Kołacz.
The Museum, in cooperation with SŻIH, launches the education, documentation, cultural and public programmes. They include the Polish Intercultural Youth Encounters PIYE, the Polish Righteous – Restoring Forgotten History, and the Virtual Shtetl.
The official ceremony of laying the foundation stone for the Museum is attended by representatives of highest state authorities from Poland and the world, representatives of the Catholic Church, benefactors and friends of the Museum.
Inauguration of the Museum’s music stage in the Ohel: the Mizrah Festival dedicated to the place of Jewish music in modern culture.
The Museum, in cooperation with the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczyński, launches the project Polish Righteous – Restoring Forgotten History, devoted to documenting and presenting the history of the Polish Righteous Among the Nations. The objective of the project is to give them their due place in the collective memory of the Polish people and the world. During the years 2007-2009 three albums devoted to the Polish Righteous are published and the President decorates dozens of Polish Righteous with high state orders. The fourth album is published in 2013, under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski.
Testimonies of Polish Righteous are presented on a bilingual website www.sprawiedliwi.org.pl .
German Ambassador to Poland Michael H. Gerdts and President of the of the Association of Jewish Historical Institute Marian Turski sign an agreement concerning a grant from the German government for the development of the Museum. The amount of euro 5 million is assigned to the preparation of the Core Exhibition and to purchasing technical equipment for the Museum building.
The Association of the Jewish Historical Institute raises financial donations from individuals and institutions from Poland and the world for the process of creating the Core Exhibition (the Capital Campaign). SŻIH’s fundraising effort provides significant support for the Museum’s current programme operation.
The Museum organises the promotional exhibition Polin – Thousand Years of the History of Polish Jews. In the spring it is presented at the Jewish Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv and in the Galicia Jewish Museum in Kraków.
The Capital City’s Office for Urban Development, which has been entrusted with running the construction, launches a tender for construction of the Museum.
The Council of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews is appointed, chaired by Marian Turski.
Ceremonial inauguration of construction of the Museum building. The tender was won by the Polimex-Mostostal consortium.
The Museum opens the Virtual Shtetl website, which is devoted to local Jewish history in Poland. The contents, presenting Jewish life within the historic borders of Poland, is prepared by dozens of people passionate about the history of regional Jewish culture across the country.
Concert by the world famous violinist Joshua Bell. It is the largest benefit concert for the Museum, and the biggest fundraising event in the history of the project. Revenue from the concert is used for supporting the development of the Core Exhibition. The initiator and sponsor of the event is Zygmunt Rolat.
Final work is done on the detailed design of the exhibition. The structure and material contents of the Core Exhibition is precisely specified.
The company Nizio Design International is assigned to execute the Exhibition.
The Core Exhibition team conducts final selection of materials, texts, set designs and the graphic design of the Core Exhibition.
Producing the Core Exhibition of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews: collecting visual materials; designing graphics; designing and lunching the system for managing electronic equipment, multi-media content and exhibition infrastructure; designing, production and launching the multi-media elements; designing and producing the set; integration of all elements with the exhibition management system.
Opening of the building of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
Inauguration of the Museum’s operation in the new building.