There is no other Jewish museum in Central/Eastern Europe of a comparable size that is as innovative as the Galicia Jewish Museum in terms of its positioning vis-à-vis exhibiting Jewish culture, the Holocaust, and present-day Jewish life all under one roof. This learning experience can be built not only by way of a passive visit to the Museum’s exhibitions, but also through active participation in a wide range of cultural, artistic, and educational programmes.
In addition to its educational tasks, the Galicia Jewish Museum meets a range of specific community- and heritage-based needs. Through a rich and diverse exhibition programme, the Museum offers a platform for contact with Judaism, Jewish culture, history, and even contemporary art, providing an engaging, welcoming environment for people from all backgrounds and age groups within the context of Kraków. The exhibition programmes target visitors from the local Jewish community as well as their non-Jewish neighbours, Jewish tourists visiting the place of death and/or country of their ancestors, and non-Jewish tourists arriving every year to Poland.
The Museum provides the perfect space in which, in an accessible and engaging manner local visitors may come into contact and interact with exhibitions devoted to the Jewish past of this region and sometimes of their own hometowns.
At the very heart of the Museum is the permanent exhibition: “Traces of Memory: A Contemporary Look at the Jewish Past in Poland”. The exhibition pieces together a picture of the relics of Jewish life and culture in Polish Galicia that can still be seen today, interpreting these traces in a manner that is informative, accessible, and thought-provoking. The exhibition offers a lament for the destroyed Jewish civilization that once flourished in this country, remembers the location where annihilation took place, and give credit to commemorative efforts that have occurred since the Holocaust. As the exhibition document traces of Jewish presence in dozens of places, it allow us to localize the story, relaying to visitors a narrative not of strangers but rather their former neighbours. The creation of an interesting and diverse exhibition programme in a safe and friendly Jewish space enables local non-Jewish communities to start exploring Jewish heritage as a part of their own heritage, arousing curiosity, breaking stereotypes, and overcoming prejudices.
Finally, by the range of exhibitions on view, the Museum suggests a feeling that the Jewish experience as seen from present-day Poland is not at all stuck in a dead end, but rather is an expanding universe with a great deal to say about contemporary issues and perspectives.