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First Look at Core Exhibition of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw

September 20, 2014

Photo: Handshouse Studio
Photo: Handshouse Studio

The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and the Polish Cultural Institute New York are proud to present Handshouse Studio with a behind-the-scenes look at the reconstructed Gwoździec Synagogue: the centerpiece of the core exhibition of Warsaw’s new Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

HANDSHOUSE STUDIO - Making/History: the Reconstruction of the Gwoździec Synagogue
Sunday, October 12, 2014, 6:30 PM - YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, NYC

The Gwoździec Synagogue was one of nearly 200 centuries-old wooden synagogues in Poland, all of which were systematically destroyed by the Nazis during the Second World War. The 16th-century synagogue in the eastern Polish town of Gwoździec (now Hvizdets’ in Ukraine) was renowned for its spectacular polychrome paintings on the ceiling and interior walls. Handshouse Studio, a Massachusetts-based educational non-profit organization, undertook the task of reconstructing the roof, ceiling and bimah of this synagogue, to serve as the centerpiece of the core exhibition of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, which is opening officially on Oct 28.

Handshouse worked with 296 historians, architects, students artisans and artists, using period tools and traditional building and paint-mixing techniques, in the process reviving a lost building tradition. The rebuilding project toured eight Polish cities, where Handshouse led workshops to engage local people in the Jewish history of their areas, as well as teaching traditional craftsmanship and painting techniques. The reconstruction was created by Handshouse Studio in collaboration with the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland and the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

Making/History: The Reconstruction of the Gwoździec Synagogue will feature Laura and Rick Brown, co-founders of Handshouse Studio, who will speak about the multi-year process of reconstructing the synagogue. Cary Wolinsky of Trillium Studios will also present excerpts from their documentary Raising the Roof: Gwoździec Synagogue.

Presented by the YIVO Institute of Jewish Research and the Polish Cultural Institute New York

Handshouse Studio: Making/History: the Reconstruction of the Gwoździec Synagogue

15 West 16th St
New York, NY, 10011

Subway: Union Square (L, N, Q, R, W, 4, 5, 6), 14th St and 6th Ave (F, L, V, PATH), 18th St and 7th Ave (1), 14th St and 7th Ave (1, 2, 3, L), 14th St and 8th Ave (A, C, E, L). Bus: M2, M3, M5, M6, M7, M14

Sunday, October 12, 6:30 PM

ADMISSION: $15, $12 for YIVO members


THE POLISH CULTURAL INSTITUTE NEW YORK, established in 2000, is a diplomatic mission to the United States serving under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland. The Institute’s mission is to build, nurture, and promote cultural exchange between the United States and Poland by presenting Polish culture to American audiences and by connecting Polish artists, researchers and scholars from various fields to American institutions, introducing them to their professional counterparts in the United States, and facilitating their participation in contemporary American culture.

The Institute produces and promotes a broad range of cultural events in theater, performance, dance, music, film, visual arts, literature, and the humanities. Among its past and present American partners are such distinguished organizations as Lincoln Center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Museum of Modern Art, the Jewish Museum, PEN American Center, the Poetry Society of America, YIVO, the National Gallery of Art, Yale University, 92nd Street Y, Columbia University, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Princeton University, the Harvard Film Archive, the CUNY Graduate Center, the Julliard School of Music, Film Forum, the Museum of the Moving Image, the Morgan Library & Museum, Anthology Film Archives, The Santa Fe Opera, the New Museum, La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, Symphony Space, the New York Public Library, the Cinefamily, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Kennedy Center, and many more.

Our programs have included American presentations of works by such a wide range of distinguished artists, including filmmakers Agnieszka Holland, Roman Polański, Andrzej Wajda, Krzysztof Zanussi, Jerzy Skolimowski, Małgorzata Szumowska and Andrzej Żuławski; poets and authors Wisława Szymborska, Czesław Miłosz, Adam Zagajewski, Zbigniew Herbert, Tadeusz Różewicz, Ryszard Kapuściński, Stanisław Lem, Witold Gombrowicz and Bruno Schulz; composers Fryderyk Chopin, Karol Szymanowski, Mieczysław Weinberg, Andrzej Panufnik, Witold Lutosławski, Mikołaj Górecki, Krzysztof Penderecki andPaweł Mykietyn; theater directors Tadeusz Kantor, Jerzy Grotowski, Krystian Lupa, Grzegorz Jarzyna and Krzysztof Warlikowski; visual artists Alina Szapocznikow, Mirosław Bałka, Katarzyna Kozyra, Paweł Althamer, Edward Krasiński, Zofia Kulik, Józef Robakowski, Zbigniew Libera, Krzysztof Wodiczko and Magdalena Abakanowicz; and many other Polish researchers and scholars, public intellectuals, and social and cultural activists. www.PolishCulture-NYC.org

The YIVO INSTITUTE FOR JEWISH RESEARCH was founded in Vilna, Poland, in 1925, and relocated to New York City in 1940 with the mission to preserve, study, and perpetuate knowledge of the thousand-year history and culture of Jewish life in Eastern Europe. Today, YIVO’s archival and library collections are the single largest resource for such study in the world. YIVO offers cultural events and programs throughout the year, educational programs, scholarly publications, and fellowships. www.yivo.org


HANDSHOUSE STUDIO is a non-profit, innovative, educational organization that creates adventurous hands-on projects through community-service, building projects with non-profit partners around the world as a way to explore history, understand science, and perpetuate the arts. Handshouse, co-founded by Rick Brown and Laura Brown in 2002, is located in Norwell, Massachusetts. It has gained international recognition for its pedagogical method of connecting institutions and organizations to carry out bold and complex educational built projects. www.handshouse.org