Museum of the Second World War
|Established||23 March 2017|
|Location||Władysław Bartoszewski Square 1, Gdańsk, Poland|
|Collections||Military equipment, historical documents and war memorabilia|
Kwadrat architectural team won the architectural competition for the building of the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk.
Under new management, the museum faced criticism from deviating from its original exhibits, designed by well-known historians. The new exhibits placed a high emphasis on the victimization of ethnic Poles during the war. Several of the original authors filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement when the exhibits were changed without consultation, which they won in October 2020.
The Prime Minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, opened the architectural competition to design the main building of the museum. The judging panel included such experts as Daniel Liebeskind and Jack Lohman, the director of the Museum of London. The winning design was created by the Gdynia-based Kwadrat architectural studio. The seat of the museum faces the Motława River and is located on Wałowa Street in close proximity to the Radunia Canal and the historical Polish Post Office Building. The museum grounds cover an area of 2.5 acres and the building itself covers approximately 23,000 square metres. The building consists of three major spheres, which symbolically represent the connection between the past, present and future. The most distinctive part of the building is the 40-metre tall leaning tower with a glass façade, which houses a library, reading and conference rooms as well as cafés and restaurants with a view of the panorama of Gdańsk.
The Museum was created on 1 September 2008 by way of a regulation of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage under the name Westerplatte Museum in Gdańsk. On the same day, Prime Minister Donald Tusk appointed prof. dr hab. Paweł Machcewicz as his representative for the Museum of the Second World War. The team of the representative for the Museum included dr hab. Piotr M. Majewski - historian from the Warsaw University and dr Janusz Marszalec, who was the head of the Public Education Department Office of the Institute of National Remembrance in Gdańsk from 2000 to 2007. The purpose of the team included i.e. the development of a Museum of the Second World War programme concept. The concept has been presented to the public on 6 October 2008 at the Chancellery of the President of the Council of Ministers in Warsaw during a discussion with historians and museologists. The text of the concept and record of the discussion have been published in print, and is also accessible directly via the Museum’s website. Development of the concept and contents of the exhibitions were co-created by renowned scholars of WWII and totalitarianism, including: Norman Davies, Timothy Snyder, Tomasz Szarota, Włodzimierz Borodziej and Jerzy Wojciech Borejsza.
On 26 November 2008, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Mr Bogdan Zdrojewski changed the name of this institution from the Westerplatte Museum to the Museum of the Second World War in Gdansk. At the same time, he defined the scope of tasks of the facility stating: “the object of the museum’s operations is to amass a collection pertaining to the history of World War II, safeguard it, and make it available, in particular by means of exhibition, popularisation, education, and publishing”.
On 15 April 2016, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Mr Piotr Gliński informed about combining the Museum of the Second World War and the Museum of Westerplatte and the War of 1939 (being organised), created in 2015. Mr Gliński’s decision was influenced by the negative reviews of the Main Exhibit of the museum ordered by the ministry and penned by Jan Żaryn, Piotr Semka and Piotr Niwiński.
At the end of 2016, the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Gdańsk questioned the decision of the minister of culture about combining the two and ordered works to that effect to be halted until the case is examined. The Ministry of Culture deemed the court’s decision as invalid. In January 2017, the Supreme Administrative Court overruled the Voivodeship Administrative Court’s decision.
On 30 January 2017, the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw halted the combining of the two museums until a lawful examination of the complaint filed by the museum’s management and the Commissioner for Human Rights. On March 23, the museum was opened for the public. On April 5, the Supreme Voivodeship Court finally overruled the motion to suspend execution of the regulation of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage. On April 6, dr Karol Nawrocki was appointed as acting director of the combined facilities.
In September 2019, a statue of Witold Pilecki will be erected in front of the museum, showing the cavalry captain in his uniform and a camp cap in hand. The author of the piece, which casting and erection shall cost PLN 400,000, is Mr Maciej Jagodziński-Jagennmerr.
Dr Karol Nawrocki is the Museum's director. Prof. dr hab Grzegorz Berendt and Dr Tomasz Szturo are his deputies. Prof. Dr hab. Paweł Machcewicz was the Museum’s director until April 5, 2017, and Dr Janusz Marszalec and Dr hab. Piotr M. Majewski served as his deputies.
On 7 February 2018, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage and Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Gliński appointed new members of the museum's management board, which include: Sławomir Cenckiewicz, Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, Jacek Friedrich, Mirosław Golon, Piotr M. Majewski, Bogdan Musiał, Piotr Niwiński, Andrzej Nowak, Piotr Semka, Zbigniew Wawer, Jarosław Wąsowicz, Tadeusz Wolsza, Jan Żaryn.
German Junkers Ju 87 "Stuka" at permanent exhibition
Enigma machine cipher machine
Spanish nationalist posters
German propaganda poster
Eagle from the banner of the First Polish Corps
Joseph Stalin's pipe
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