Museums of the Great Poles

Artur Stelmasiak

The complex of God’s Providence will house multi-media museums dedicated to Pope John Paul II and to Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski. ‘These will be modern cultural institutions in which the lives and ministries of these two great Poles will be presented in an attractive way’, stresses Sylvia Kabala from the office of God’s Providence Centre.

The museums, which are so important to Polish historic memory, will be placed in the non-sacral part of the Shrine of God’s Providence in Warsaw. Currently, its concrete construction does not resemble a church yet but many parts of the construction have already been completed. ‘We managed to build 70% of the church at the end of February 2008’, says Fr Pawel Bekus, a member of the God’s Providence Centre Founding Team. The constructional works allow us to begin the cultural-museum part, co-financed by the state. ‘Although we are beginning to build the walls of our museums we are thinking of their concepts. Many environments dealing with the legacy of John Paul II and the legacy of Poland’s Primate Cardinal Wyszynski will be invited’, stresses Sylwester Bizacki, director of the office of God’s Providence Centre.

John Paul II next to Cardinal Wyszynski

The centres for documenting the Polish Pope’s pontificate and the pastoral ministry of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski will be placed at the modern museums. The cultural centres will catalogue the collections and preserve them as well as conduct research. The museums where one can get to know the activities of John Paul II and Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski will show the close relationship between those two great Poles. John Paul II himself referred to that relationship many times. He said that there would be no Polish Pope without the faith of the Primate of the Millennium. Currently, there are many initiatives dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holy Father and his teaching. But there is no museum dedicated to him. The same applies to Cardinal Wyszynski whose 30th death anniversary will fall in three years’ time. ‘We have not made much so far. We have a street named after Cardinal Wyszynski and a monument to him in Warsaw. But we still lack a good museum’, Bizacki thinks. ‘It is shameful that the capital has not got museums that are so important to Poland’, adds Piotr Gawel, the director of God’s Providence Centre Founding Team.

The Museum of the Warsaw Uprising is a model

Many museologists from all over Poland can envy the success of the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising. The modern centre has managed to do something that seemed to be impossible: to draw young people. The key to success was the modern form of displaying the exhibits and an excellent way of promotion. Thanks to that the organisers succeeded in ‘wrapping up’ history, which turned out to be interesting and attractive for young Polish generations.
The same strategy is to be applied to the museums dedicated to John Paul II and to Cardinal Wyszynski. Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz would like these multi-media museums to follow the model of the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising that draws many young people belonging to the JP2 generation. ‘That’s why we want to ask the best Polish experts in museum as well as people of culture that will make these museums places of extreme experiences’, Piotr Gawel says. The Centre of God’s Providence will combine the sacral and cultural-patriotic-historic realities. ‘Although we have many museums in Warsaw we lack expositions that would show the substantial contribution of the Church to the history of our nation. I hope that the Centre of God’s Providence containing the museums dedicated to John Paul II and to Cardinal Wyszynski will fill in the gap. It will be the Shrine of National Remembrance... entering with Lord God in the 21st century’, Sylwia Kabala thinks.

"Niedziela" 19/2008

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: