Museum of Polish History

2010

Creating a museum which is going to present one nation's history is an extremely difficult undertaking in modern times. This is primarily so because history is not a simple academic subject. It is the story of who we are and about our own identity. Yet what makes an identity in the modern world? We are Poles, but also Europeans or citizens of the world. We are only one click away from far-off lands. Every day we are consumers of goods produced from Tokyo to Los Angeles. We have different views on life, different tastes. Yet when discussing the republic of nobles, disputing the Warsaw Rising of 1944 or talking about Solidarity we catch on instantly...Is it worth, however, celebrating one's own heritage and identity in today's world? Is this not a trace of some tribal past? I do not believe it is. I am convinced that history of any nation is not owned by that nation alone. I believe that national cultures should not be obstacles, but a means for communication and understanding. Therefore, it may well be that the history of the Polish and Lithuanian commonwealth, the history of Solidarity or that of the Polish and German conflict and reunion will all be a lesson not only for us, Poles.

Bogdan Zdrojewski

Minister for Culture and National Heritage

Warsaw, 6th April 2009

 

In response to the above call, Makeka Design Lab submitted its design for the Polish Museum of History, which we felt responded to the historical and social history of Warsaw...

The Urban suture reconfigures the site by a series of spatial stitches which connect, and emphasise an appreciation of the past through a critical appraisal of the varied site conditions in place. The site itself is seen as a representative palimpsest of Poland’s contested history and a potential capacitor for the complexity and fragility of Polish national identity. Contained within this fabric of competing and complementary meanings is a fabric of hope in which the architectural and urban intervention seeks to create a series of buildings which are dissected, bifurcated, stitched and threaded together by a sense of public movement and a macro-urban strategy which constrains the dominant engineering gestures of the highway into a cohesive intervention.

The design locates itself in a re-imagined site of overlapping and distinct meanings, where the ordinary function of civic buildings and their ability to reflect and participate in a dialogue of a 21st century contemporary Polish identity, can equally be integrated with the unspoken desires of a sophisticated and dynamic culture.  Great delight in the contradiction of the past nationalistic narratives and more integrative and complex datums of modernity in its most fluid sense, suggests an architecture that is both provocative and yet restrained from the burgeoning narratives of the east-west power discourse. In many respects the intervention is conceived as a series of interconnected pavilions that respond to historical datums in height and width and yet propose an alternative mode of practice and circulation which emphasises the rich heritage of the Polish people as a whole.