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Warsaw Jewish museum nabs prestigious award

(JTA) — The Association of Polish Architects named Warsaw’s Museum of the History of Polish Jews as the best publicly funded building of 2013.

Designed by Finnish architects Rainer Mahlamaki and Ilmari Lahdelma, part of the building was opened to the public in April 2013, although the permanent exhibition will not be accessible until later this year.

“The prize was awarded for outstanding performance by a public building,” the jury wrote in a statement that was published last week on the website of the Association of Polish Architects, or SARP.

The museum “functions not only as such, but also as a monument and symbol. The architects went beyond the utilitarian aspects of the building to capture its beautiful content, and then give it a wonderful form,” the statement read.

Clad in glass panels on the outside, the museum has a curved passageway inside that runs from front to back, which the building’s architect has compared to the parted Red Sea. It also features a reproduction of the colorful painted ceiling of a wooden synagogue.

The cornerstone was laid in 2007, and the structure covers about 13,000 square yards. The Polish government, Jewish groups and private donors worked together to raise roughly $100 million to construct the building.

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