Polish Jewish museum director to step down to break stalemate

Dariuz Stola is in a stalemate with the Culture Ministry because he had "a very aggressive political policy at the museum."

Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw building  (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw building
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – The former director of the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews was chosen last year to return to the position he held for six years. But Dariuz Stola says he won’t take back the post due to a stalemate that his rehiring has caused.

Stola was museum director from 2014 to 2019. In May 2019, a search committee recommended keeping Stola, but the minister of culture, Piotr Glinski, has not yet approved the appointment.

In September, Glinski said he would not reappoint Stola because he “had a very aggressive political policy at the museum.”

In 2018, the Polin Museum organized an exhibition on the anti-Semitic campaign of March 1968, which forced several thousand Jews to leave Poland. The exhibition also showed examples of contemporary anti-Semitism, including online entries by two journalists working in public television.

Piotr Wiślicki, the board chair of Poland’s Jewish Historical Institute, disagreed with Glinski’s take.

“I consider these statements to be unfounded, undermining the credibility of the museum,” Wislicki said in a statement.

Several private donors have suspended their donations over the stalemate.

In a statement Tuesday, Stola called out the museum founders — the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the Jewish Historical Institute Association and the City of Warsaw — and told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that his statement is meant “to open the field for negotiation between the founders of the museum to overcome the crisis.”

He said he will step away from the museum if an agreement can be reached “for the institution’s further functioning.”

The culture minister, Piotr Glinski, has not yet announced what he intends to do and who will run the museum.

Stola in his statement emphasized that “the Minister has not appointed me to the position, justifying his inaction with false excuses,” which he called “unlawful.” However, Stola said he does not intend start a legal fight.