Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Chief Curator of the Core Exhibition at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, will be speaking this April in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Berkeley, and Stanford. Please see below for complete details and links to the events.
- April 8th, 2018: “What’s Up With Poland? The Role of Museums in Historical Debates”–Lecture sponsored by the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, American Jewish Committee, and Skirball Cultural Center-time and venue TBA
Recent efforts in Poland to dictate how the history of the Holocaust should be told have placed museums in the crosshairs of historical policy and the politics of history. The uproar precipatated by efforts in Poland to legislate what can and cannot be said about the Holocaust has polarized debates and lead to misunderstandings and historical distortions. As institutions of public istory and sites of informal learning, museums can play a vital role in presenting difficult histories in ways that are authoritative, without being authoritarian. To fulfill that role, museums must create a zone of trust. They must be a place where difficult historical moments, among the darkest in a country’s history, can be confronted and discussed. They must model civil discourse, open debate, and critical approaches to history. These issues are especially relevant this year, 2018, which marks the 100th anniversary of Poland’s regained independence, the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and the 50th anniversary of the March ’68 anti-Zionist and antisemitic campaign, which lead to the last wave of Jewish emigration from Poland. How are museums in Poland commemorating these anniversaries in light of the present historical moment? What stories are they telling and how free are they to tell them? Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett will explore these question, focusing on POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, in Warsaw, which presents the thousand-year history of Polish Jews.
- April 11th, 2018: “Rising from the Rubble: Creating POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews”-Lecture at University of California San Diego, detailed schedule to come
Lecture at University of California San Diego, detailed schedule to come
Facing the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes on the site of the Warsaw ghetto and prewar Jewish neighbourhood, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews completes the memorial complex. At the monument we honour those who died by remembering how they died. At the museum we honor them – and those who came before and after – by remembering how they lived. This lecture explores the creation of POLIN Museum and its multimedia narrative exhibition a journey of a thousand years and its potential to be an agent of transformation that can move an entire society forward.
- April 13th, 2018: ““Museums and the Politics of History” – Lecture sponsored by the University of San Francisco and the Contemporary Jewish Museum (venue), San Francisco
As institutions of public history, museums must navigate a minefield of divergent narratives, stakeholders, and goals. Steering a steady course, independent of political pressure, is an unrelenting challenge, especially in post-Communist Europe. Even when museums are relatively free to chart their own course, the histories they present are not without their politics. This lecture will explore how the politics of history play out in museums in Europe and elsewhere.
- April 16th, 2018: “Theatre of History: Presenting the Past in American Jewish Museums”– Lecture sponsored by the Graduate Theological. Union and the Magnes Collection, Berekely, CA
What is “the problem with Jewish museums”? Whereas there were only two major Jewish museums in the United States before the Second World War, there has been a proliferation of Jewish museums and Holocaust museums since. What stories do they tell? Who are they for? And, is there something about the American Jewish experience that distinguishes Jewish museums from those devoted to the history of other Americans?
- April 17, 2018: “Jewish Museums in Europe: Cabinets of Curiosities or Theatres of History” – Lecture at Stanford University, Stanford, CA, detailed schedule to come
“What comes first? The collection or the story? What is the story the collection tells, and can the story the museum wants to tell be told through the collection? Given the politics of history and historical policies in Europe today Jewish museums have a special role to play. Prague, Budapest, London, Paris, Berlin, Warsaw, Moscow, Vienna – Jewish museums in these and other European cities have taken different approaches. Their strategies reflect not only the history of the institution and its collection, but above all new understandings of the story to be told, who it is for, and how to create experiences that are memorable, emotional, and thought provoking.”