We were honored to host Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett this past week when she presented the outstanding new museum in Warsaw “Rising from the Rubble: Creating POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.”
In addition to being the Chief Curator of the Core Exhibtion at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, in Warsaw, Kirschenblatt-Gimblett is Professor Emerita at New York University, and the author of Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage (1998), They Called Me Mayer July (2007), and many other books and articles. Hosting her at the university was truly an exceptional opportunity.
On Thursday, March 12th, she drew out a large crowd of academics from around Israel, diverse as her own research, who joined our students in enjoying Barbara’s presentation of the new museum’s core exhibit. Her in-depth lecture described the process of creating the exhibit and the theoretical aims behind the different galleries.
She shared complex aspects of the exhibit with us as well, such as the decision to leave out survivor testimony in the Holocaust gallery as a means of keeping all the materials true to the time. The Holocaust gallery also starts with the invasion of Poland, since it is a Polish narrative. These are only a few examples of the many unique and innovative ways the museum chose to tell the story of the Holocaust in the context of Polish Jewry.
The next day Barbara held a private workshop with our students. She shared more details about creating the exhibit, and even showed us the master-plans for the museum, and how they changed through the long process of creating the museum. The day was both fascinating and fun as she opened up to us about her favorite parts of the museum and personal motivations in the project.
Barbara has broken the mold with her creative scholarship, and now with the amazing core exhibition at Polin. We were honored to host her, and we are proud to provide our students with the opportunity to meet and learn from her.
Interested in applying for our MA in Holocaust Studies Program? You can find the application and more information at our website: http://holocaust-studies.haifa.ac.il/