Council for Museums at the Auschwitz Memorial Site
At the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, a meeting of the Council for Museums was held. It is a prestigious opinion-forming and advisory body acting under the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
As Paweł Jaskanis, the chairman of the Council, stated, one of the reasons why the Council organised the meeting and chose for this purpose the Auschwitz Memorial Site for the first time in many years was the desire to explore the current state of affairs related to the management of this particular place, where care is especially difficult.
“Today's meeting, director Piotr Cywiński’s presentation, showed what is most interested in museologists: the approach to the original, the authentic, how to look after the testimony of history, personal testimony, the testimony of the space, how to approach conservation, how to speak ethically, how to behave,” said the chairman, paying particular attention to the activities related to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation and, as emphasised, building conservation and the financial options for one of the largest conservation projects in the history of the country.
Deputy Minister, Margaret Omilanowska, who also took part in the meeting, stressed the uniqueness of the Auschwitz Memorial Site in the landscape of the Polish museography. “It is so important place that here we have decided to talk about the various problems for museums, in the context of Auschwitz and with the awareness that the problems that appear in martyrdom museums are unusual for museums in general. The sum of knowledge that is presented together by the members of Council for Museums may, on the one hand, be support for the solution of certain problems, the concerns of the museum, but on the other hand, it is for all of us a great lesson in the importance of this Museum and its social functioning and understanding of the diversity of problems it faces,” stated Omilanowska.
Director of the Department of Cultural Heritage at the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Jacek Miler, presented the problems encountered by martyrdom museums in Poland, arising, inter alia, from the absence of necessary legislative solutions. During the two-day meeting, the Council also addressed many others topics relevant to Polish museology.
The Council for Museums meets several times a year, and its main task is to issue opinions on different issues submitted to the Ministry of Culture related to the activities of Polish museums of national or international significance, as well as opinions on the draft budget of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in the area of Polish museums, draft normative acts on museums and applications for specific grants for museum activities. The present, fifth term of the Council lasts from 2012-2015. For two terms now, Piotr M.A. Cywiński, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, has been a member of the Council, as well as the only member representing a museum of martyrdom.