Chris Schwarz, founder and director of the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow, has died. Schwartz, 59, died Sunday of prostate cancer in his Krakow apartment.
Schwarz, a London native whose father was Jewish, founded the museum in April 2004. It was a cornerstone of the rebirth of Jewish culture in Krakow’s Kazimierz district, where hundreds of thousands of Jews lived before World War II.
With his modern approach to exhibitions and to depicting Jewish life, as well as an emphasis on education, the museum became a hit with locals, as well as Polish Jews and Jews from abroad.
“The museum mission is to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and to celebrate the Jewish culture of Galicia,” said Kate Crady, Schwarz’s friend and museum coordinator. “Chris’ legacy will continue; he put the procedures in place to make sure the museum will flourish for many years.”
Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Poland’s chief rabbi, said Schwarz had to constantly fight to obtain funding for the museum, which was a novelty in a country where cultural institutions are normally run by the government.
“Chris embodied the kind of person who believed deeply in ideals and values and wasn’t willing to sit on the sidelines,” Schudrich said.