Mission and Activity
The Polish History Museum builds a bridge between the past and the present. The foundation of our activities is the tradition of freedom - the history of parliamentarism, of civic movements, of the persistent struggle for independence. This includes the phenomenon of the nobility-controlled commonwealth, the national uprisings, the history of the Solidarity movement and the two-time restoration of the independent Republic of Poland in the 20th century. Our aim is to create a community. By carrying out diverse exhibition, educational and scientific activities, we shape a modern patriotic sensibility. We contribute to the development of civic attitudes based on knowledge of tradition and openness to the world. By showcasing key themes in the history of the Polish state and nation, we present an in-depth view of Polish history, appreciating the role of memory in the contemporary world. Exceptionally important in this context is the commonality of Polish history with that of the nations which co-created the past Commonwealth.
About the Polish History Museum
The Polish History Museum collects historical memorabilia and documents, as well as popularises and promotes Polish history. In doing so, it makes use of the latest research. It reaches for inspiring examples of Polish achievements and participates in debates on difficult pages of Polish history.
The Museum is active in shaping Poland’s international image. All of this is done in order to make the country’s history and culture comprehensible and attractive - both to Poles and to foreigners. We fulfil our mission in an open way: by promoting the widest possible accessibility of cultural heritage and scientific resources.
The legal status of the Polish History Museum in Warsaw is regulated by the Act on Museums, the Act on the Organisation and Management of Cultural Activities and the Statute of the Polish History Museum in Warsaw.
Information related to the construction of the seat of the Polish History Museum can be found in the SEAT tab, and news related to the permanent exhibition currently under preparation - in the PERMANENT EXHIBITION tab.
The Polish History Museum has been preparing temporary exhibitions since its inception. They allow a closer look at important and interesting historical events and processes, while at the same time being the Museum’s voice in current debates.
Calendar of exhibitions
- 11 November 2006 - as part of Independence Day, the opening of the exhibition Dare To Be Free in the building of the National Museum in Warsaw
- 11 November 2008 - opening of the exhibition The Interwar Period: Faces of Modernity - a cross-cutting exhibition devoted to the Second Polish Republic (1918–1939), its political life, economy, society, architecture and culture; the exhibition, held at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, was visited by some 55,000 people
- 11 November 2009 - opening of the exhibition Separated by War devoted to the dramatic fate of ordinary Poles during the Second World War.
- 21 October 2011 - opening of the interactive exhibition The Path to Unity. 1945–2004: Communism. Solidarity. The European Union presented in Brussels as part of the Polish Presidency of the EU
- 2 May 2012 - opening of the exhibition Under a Common Sky: The Commonwealth of Nations, Religions and Cultures (16th-18th centuries) at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.
- 10 October 2012 - as one of the first institutions in Poland, the Museum of Polish History establishes cooperation with the international platform Google Cultural Institute (now Google Arts & Culture); to date, the PHM has published 28 online exhibitions (www.wystawy.muzhp.pl)
- 21 January 2013 - opening of the educational exhibition 1863: A Game for Independence; displayed at the University Library in Warsaw, the exhibition allowed the viewers to perform attractive tasks bringing closer the reality and knowledge of the Polish territories of the January Uprising era
- 17 May 2013 - the award of the Prize of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage in the Sibyl 2012 competition for the exhibition Under a Common Sky (best historical exhibition of the year).
- 28 September 2013 - opening of the exhibition From Horodło to Horodło. The Union of Horodło: History and Memory (1413–2013) in Zamość; the exhibition was prepared by the Museum of Polish History in cooperation with the Zamość Museum; in December 2013, the PHM was awarded the title of Zamość Cultural Ambassador.
- 24 April 2014 - as part of the 100th anniversary of Jan Karski’s birth, the Polish History Museum prepared a series of events, including the exhibition The World Knew: Jan Karski’s Mission for Humanity
- 25 September 2014 - opening of the exhibition London - Capital of Poland: Polish Emigration 1940–1990 at the University Library in Warsaw
- 20 November 2014 - opening of the open-air exhibition Courage and Reconciliation by Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Krzyżowa
- 10 April 2015 - opening of the open-air exhibition Smolensk Portraits at Piłsudski Square in Warsaw
- 24 September 2015 - opening at the University Library in Warsaw of the exhibition Promised Land: City and Modernity about urbanisation in Polish territories in the late 19th and the early 20th century
- 20 July 2016 - opening of the exhibition John Paul II. The Origins at Krakowskie Przedmieście Street in Warsaw
- 2 May 2017 - opening of the exhibition Gusen. Granite Death, Memory and Oblivion at the European Parliament in Brussels.
- 10 September 2017 - opening of the exhibition Tadeusz Kościuszko: A Man of Vision at Krakowskie Przedmieście Street in Warsaw
- 31 January 2018 - opening of the exhibition Women of Independence at the Portuguese Parliament
- 3 September 2019 - opening of the open-air exhibition General Stanisław Maczek and his Soldiers at Krakowskie Przedmieście Street in Warsaw
- 11 October 2019 - opening of the open-air exhibition General Stanisław Maczek and his Soldiers in Breda, the Netherlands
- 3 June 2020 - opening of the PHM co-created Maczek Memorial in Breda, a museum dedicated to the 1st Armoured Division and its commander
- 3 May 2021 - opening of the mobile exhibition The Constitution of 3 May 1791 in Vilnius
- 6 September 2021 - opening of the open-air exhibition Poland and Lithuania: Together in the Name of Freedom in Vilnius
- 9 November 2021 - opening of the temporary exhibition Enigma: A Riddle Solved at the National Centre for Culture’s Kordegarda Gallery in Warsaw
- 21 January 2022 - launch of an e-exhibition summarising the public collection #MojaPamiątka (mojapamiatka.muzhp.pl)
- 28 April 2022 - opening in the Sejm of the Republic of Poland of the panel exhibition Politician, Lawyer and Master: Wiesław Chrzanowski (1923–2012)
- 9 May 2022 - opening in Warsaw of the outdoor exhibition Ukraine: War in Europe prepared by the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance while the Polish History Museum contributed to the project as one of its partners
- 24 June 2022 - opening of the permanent exhibition Poles and Hungarians: 1000 Years of Shared History in Budapest
Education and dissemination
The Museum’s educational activities are rich and consistently developed. They include historical competitions and polls, outdoor events, educational and location-based games, training for teachers, thematic websites, as well as publications for teachers and students. Reaching out to the widest possible audience, we make extensive use of new media and make educational materials freely available online.
A significant element of the PHM’s activities are dissemination projects. One example is the open-air event Independence Station, organised every year on 11 November, the main attraction of which is an educational location-based game.
The Polish History Museum has for many years organised the Historical Event of the Year poll. Its aim is to honour the organisers, creators and initiators of the most interesting historical events. It is open to proposals of events related to history in the broadest sense: historical films, exhibitions, online portals, archaeological discoveries, the creation of new historical institutions, as well as innovative educational undertakings, games, books or competitions. The poll is a two-stage process. First, the most valuable projects are chosen by experts, and then internet users vote for one of the selected projects.
The PHM has a broad educational offer for schools and families. It includes, among others, historical lessons, walks, school competitions or interactive educational packages (e.g. Tadeusz Kościuszko: A Man of Vision, Dare To Be Free and Jan Karski and his Times, the last-mentioned in Polish and English language versions).
We are consistently expanding our online activities. In 2020, we launched the Polish History Museum Online project with materials that provide an attractive introduction to Polish history, including tabs with educational materials designed for students.
In addition, the PHM runs thematic websites, most notably the popular history website www.dzieje.pl, as well as profiles on social media, including a YouTube channel that features documentaries and short educational films about important events, processes and persons in Polish history. For English-speaking readers, we offer a website www.polishhistory.pl, comprehensively popularising the history of Poland and Central Europe.
Popularisation and educational activities also include the Museum’s podcasts and audio books, available on YouTube, Spotify, Google Podcast and other podcast platforms.
Research and publishing activities
We initiate research programmes and carry them out in collaboration with academic centres in Poland and abroad. These are related to the creation of the PHM’s permanent exhibition and temporary ones. We also actively participate in discussions on Polish history and historical memory, co-creating a space for meetings between historians and representatives of other fields of science and culture. Another important contribution of the Museum to the development of historical sciences is the creation of publicly accessible research tools - the bibliographic and full-content journal BazHum database.
To date, the Museum has produced over 100 publications - catalogues, anthologies, popular-science publications or scientific monographs. Our publications have been repeatedly recognised for their substantive, technical and aesthetic qualities. We have received, among others, the Professor Jerzy Skowronek Award for Nodes of Memory in Independent Poland (orig. Węzły pamięci niepodległej Polski), the award of the Association of Applied Art Creators for the catalogue Jan Karski. Człowiek wolności (orig. Jan Karski: A Man of Freedom), the KLIO Award in the edition category and the Sibyl 2014 award for the album The January Uprising in European Press Illustrations (orig. Powstanie styczniowe w europejskiej ilustracji prasowej), the Identitas 2017 Award for Krzysztof Koehler’s collection of essays Palus sarmatica, and the Oskar Halecki Award in 2018 for Stanisław Wojciechowski’s book My Memories (orig. Moje wspomnienia).
The publications can be purchased in the online shop (sklep.muzhp.pl) and in selected bookshops. Some titles are also available for free online.
The Museum co-organises successive editions of the Congress of Foreign Researchers of Polish History. It has been held every five years in Krakow since 2007 and is the largest academic event bringing together scholars from all over the world engaged in research on Polish history and culture.
Since 2011 we have co-organised the international conference Recovering Forgotten History. The Image of East-Central Europe in English-Language Academic Textbooks and Monographs. Its aim is to enrich Anglosphere-style historical debates on East-Central Europe, and Polish history in particular, with a perspective from the historiography of Poland and other countries in the region. As of 2022, the Polish History Museum is the main organiser of this project.
The website polishfreedom.pl presents a selection of sources from the tenth to the twentieth century and is a kind of online historical primer showing key events in Polish history through the prism of original documents. Particular emphasis is placed on the tradition of freedom. Documents are published in Polish and English, and additionally in the original language, if different from Polish (e.g. Latin). The platform is primarily aimed at foreign audiences, especially students and lecturers who, due to the language barrier, do not have the opportunity to learn about Polish history from source texts. The Polish American Historical Association is a partner of the project.
Through our activities, we ensure the presence of a Polish voice in the international dialogue on heritage and cultural identity. We promote knowledge of Polish history by implementing exhibition, scientific and educational programmes abroad.
The Museum cooperates with other museums, academic and educational institutions in, among others, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain and Hungary. We regularly cooperate with many partner institutions, including the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Lithuanian Institute of History in Vilnius, the Imperial War Museum in London and the University of Aberdeen.
International cooperation has resulted, among other things, in open-air exhibitions, such as the Constitution of 3 May 1791, which was part of the celebrations marking the 230th anniversary of the enactment of this document; it was presented in many cities in Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine. Another example is the exhibition Poland and Lithuania: Together in the Name of Freedom shown, among others, in Vilnius.
Since 2019, the Museum has been running an international project commemorating General Stanisław Maczek and the 1st Armoured Division including the multimedia mobile exhibition General Stanisław Maczek and his Soldiers presented in many towns in Poland and in the Dutch city of Breda, the documentary film Invincible. The Story of General Stanisław Maczek (orig. Niepokonany. Opowieść o generale Stanisławie Maczku) directed by Rafał Geremek and an animation by Agata Mianowska Marian at War (orig. Marian na wojnie). The Polish History Museum team, together with the Breda-Polen Foundation also co-created the new seat of the Maczek Memorial in Breda, co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
On 24 June 2022, the permanent exhibition Poles and Hungarians: 1000 Years of Shared History was opened. This unique presentation co-created by the Polish History Museum thanks to the financial support of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage is on display at the Polish Research Institute and Museum in Budapest.
An important undertaking in the sphere of international cooperation was the project ‘Jan Karski. Unfinished Mission’ carried out in 2014, i.e. during the Year of Jan Karski. At that time, we prepared an educational package and a mobile exhibition in Polish and English language versions. The Polish version of the exhibition was presented in 22 cities (including Warsaw, Wrocław and Kielce), while the English version was shown in 42 cities (including Brussels, Tokyo, Rome, Stockholm, Madrid and Ottawa). Karski Days, organised in eleven cities in Poland, were also part of the project inspired by the success of the campaign, co-initiated by the Polish History Museum, to persuade the US President Barack Obama to award Karski the American Medal of Freedom, which took place in May 2012.
Patriotism of Tomorrow
Patriotism of Tomorrow is a programme implemented since 2006 with funds from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The programme provides grants for projects of non-governmental organisations and local government institutions. The Polish History Museum has been the programme’s operator since 2009. Between 2009 and 2022, approximately 11,500 applications were received from all over Poland. During this period, PLN 39.5 million was distributed, thanks to which more than 1,500 projects were co-financed.
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