Exhibition to Reflect Nine Centuries of the Jewish Experience in Poland
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Exhibition to Reflect Nine Centuries of the Jewish Experience in Poland

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An exhibition reflecting nine centuries of the Jewish experience in Poland will open at the Jewish Museum May 6 and run through August 15. The show, “Fragments of Greatness Discovered: A Loan Exhibition from Poland, ” consists of approximately 90 examples of rare Jewish art and artifacts as well as works containing Jewish subject matter by non-Jewish Polish artists.

Many of the objects, previously believed to have been destroyed by the Nazis during World War II have just been recently rediscovered.

Among the objects on view will be the great illuminated Hebrew Bible known as the Kolonymus Codex, which was completed in 1238; a splendid red silk Torah curtain embroidered with precious gold and silver threads which has been painstakingly restored by the National Museum in Warsaw; 12th Century Polish coinage by Jewish minters; community record books from the 17th and 18th Centuries; printed books, 19th and 20th Century paintings of Jewish content; clothing; embroideries; and gold and silver ritual objects.

The exhibition’s text panels will introduce and discuss such concepts as: the Yeshivot: great centers of learning; the Jew as genre subject in 19th Century Polish painting; anti-Semitism in the 19th Century and the immigration of Jews to the United States; the Jew as artist and writer in Poland; and the Holocaust.


The exhibition is sponsored by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations under the terms of a special cultural exchange agreement with the University of Warsaw. Following its opening engagement at the Jewish Museum, the exhibition will travel to the Hebrew Union College Skirball Museum in Los Angeles and the Walters Art Gallery in Balti more, after which it is scheduled to be returned for a special exhibition in Warsaw. Portions of the exhibition were seen in a preview exhibition at the Knoedler Gallery in New York City this past December.

Summing up the importance and scope of the exhibition, guest curator Cissy Grossman said, “This exhibition of material on loan from Poland dramatically illustrates the profound aesthetic and spiritual sensibilities of different communities and the range of their concerns, as well as the awesome longevity of the Jewish experience in Poland. The rediscovery of these objects and the opportunity to experience them has been on exciting one for us that we hope the visitor will share.”

Lending institutions for this exhibition include: the National Museum, Warsaw; the Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw; the Library of the University of Wroclaw; the Jewish Community of Cracow; and the Jewish Community of Wroclaw. The exhibition installation is being designed for The Jewish Museum by Lynne Breslin and Dale Furman. The exhibition has been funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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