Interesting times over in Poland.
You know it's interesting times when in January, the director panic opened the not entirely completed Museum of the Second World War early, because he was worried that his government was going to close it down before it officially opened up.
"The minister of culture has made public statements criticizing the way history is being presented at Machcewicz's museum — that it doesn’t conform to official “historical policy.”"
"“They criticized that this museum does not represent the glorious side of the war, they criticized that this is a pacifist museum, that we show the war as a great tragedy,” says Machcewicz.
The war according to the Law and Justice party can “shape characters and make people brave and industrious.” "
Full story I read is here.
We then move on to this later article, explaining the Provincial Administrative Court ruling which blocked the Supreme Administrative Court's OK for the government to merge the museum with an as yet none-existent museum - thus bringing the Museum of the Second World War under their direct control. At the time of writing this blog, the Minister of Culture had taken things back to the Supreme Administrative Court, and a result is still pending.
"The situation is a worrying one for the museum and other cultural institutions in the country as the nationalist government has already assumed control of the state broadcaster, civil service and the highest court in the land, the Constitutional Tribunal.
“We are an example of an institution that is independent of politics and an organisation that is and should be objective. What is happening is that the government is trying to put politics into our institution and that is not supposed to be the way. They are trying to rearrange our interpretation of the main exhibition and to replace it with a more Polish point of view.”"
This is something which should not only be discussed in museum circles, but much wider. As we take an interest in the nationalism, slanting of facts, and outright lies of "alternative facts" happening in America, it's worth remembering that America is not alone in worrying governmental manipulations - in fact, they seem to be running behind some countries.
Watching as a government in the middle of Europe grips routes of information, and then turns its eyes towards a museum it wants to re-purpose for national propaganda, is genuinely beyond worrying. Especially when it is happening in Poland, a country all too familiar with what happens when nationalism is misused.
Webcomic and occasional blog about the heritage sector.
Follow The Attendant:
All text and images are produced by and copyright of the artist, holder of the domain name of attendantsview.com