On April 6th, 2017, according to a decision made by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, prof. Piotr Gliński, a new cultural institution was established under the name of the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk, combining the museum of the same name, which had existed since 2008 with the Museum of Westerplatte and the War of 1939.
For the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk, this has been a period of hard work, including implementation of numerous projects and development on many levels. Below are some of the results of four years of work from our team at the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk, carried out under the management of Karol Nawrocki, PhD:
- 1,830,864 guests have visited the Museum
- Over 30 temporary exhibitions completed
- More than 1,700 lessons, activities and educational workshops conducted, attended by a total of over 35,000 participants
- 12,436 new items added to the collection of the Museum of the Second World War
- 49,423 items found at Westerplatte
- 7 seasons of archaeological research carried out at Westerplatte
- Almost 30 of our own publications issued
- 226 film recordings of witnesses to history made
- 196 short films produced
- More than 12,767 new titles added to the Library
- Nearly 30 changes and additions made to the main exhibition
- 258 cooperation agreements with volunteers signed
- 165 titles displayed at the Museum Cinema
- 5,425 visitors to the Museum on the Water
- Over 70 unique scientific and cultural events organized by the Museum, incl. international and national conferences, debates, meetings with authors, concerts, theater performances, multimedia shows and others
- 3,691 nights booked at the Museum Apartments
- 3 editions of the theater project for children and youth "Changing Perspectives" produced
Karol Nawrocki, PhD, director of MIIWŚ, adds - The above numbers look impressive for the achievements of just one cultural institution. But it's not the numbers that are the most important, it's the people. It is thanks to the professional, interdisciplinary and energetic team of the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk that we are always ready to tell stories. Be it in the Museum itself, at universities, on social media, on the music scene, in the cinema, and even in the museum shop and in stadiums, in Poland and around the world - wherever it is possible. We would like to thank all of those who have accompanied us on this extraordinary undertaking for four years.
The last four years has also seen a consistent restoration of the memorials at Westerplatte - the construction of the Museum of Westerplatte and the War of 1939, an investment process which was possible only thanks to carefully and efficiently conducted legislative procedures. On September 1st, 2019, the cornerstone was laid for the construction of the new facility, and in the fall of the same year, archaeologists from the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk found the remains of 9 Defenders of Westerplatte, which had been buried for over 80 years in unmarked graves. The identification documents of the fallen were handed to the families by the President of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda, during morning ceremonies conducted on September 1st, 2020 on the peninsula. In August 2020, the institution presented the Program Goals of the planned Museum, the construction of which, divided into stages, is planned for the years 2020-2027. At the end of 2020, as part of an international competition, the winning concept for the design of the military cemetery of the Polish Army Soldiers at Westerplatte was selected, the opening of which will be on September 1st, 2022 and will be accompanied by a ceremonial funeral for the Defenders of Westerplatte. The construction of the cemetery and the opening of a modern exhibition in the historic building of the Power Plant constitute the first stage of the investment. The museum also carries out wide-ranging archaeological research, scientific work, digging and geotechnical research, and other research on Westerplatte, the first in the history of the peninsula, allowing for an in-depth, detailed understanding of the history of this extraordinarily symbolic place.
International cooperation is also an important and effective part of the Museum’s activities. The institution has established cooperation with several dozen foreign partners, actively implementing the mission of informing countries abroad about World War II. It has been a period of time filled with organization of international conferences (including the World Forum of Battlefield Museums, the International Scientific Conference "Pact for War. The Hitler-Stalin Conspiracy of 23rd August 1939 from the perspective of 80 years from the outbreak of World War II"), in which representatives of science and culture from all over the world took part. As part of our cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the international exhibition project “Fighting and Suffering; Polish citizens during World War II ” was seen by millions of people on 6 continents, in 66 countries, in 151 locations. The fruit of our international cooperation has also been exhibitions, including "Armoured Wings" and "A Million from Across the Ocean". The institution has hosted ambassadors, heads of many states and representatives of state and local government administrations. Numerous foreign scientists, museologists and managers of the largest battlefields in the world have participated in projects organized by the Museum.
The institution's activities also include numerous cultural events: concerts, multimedia shows, theater performances and meetings with authors. These events, organized with artistry and panache, have attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers, participating both in live performances and through broadcasts on social media and on TV channels. Events such as the music spectacle "This is how the war began", the concert "100 # FREEDOM", and the multimedia spectacle "Poland: First to Fight" have been awarded with international awards, and we are sure will remain in the memory of viewers for a long time.
The overall effect of the Museum's commitment and competence in the implementation of its mission and statutory activities resulted in the museum’s coordination in 2019 of the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II under the chairmanship of Dr. Karol Nawrocki - Plenipotentiary for the organization of the celebrations on behalf of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage. As part of the celebrations, the honorary patronage of the Museum covered 361 various events organized both in Poland and around the world. Thousands of participants took part in specially prepared performances, conferences, exhibitions, educational projects and other events. Information about events, such as the unveiling of the monument of Captain Witold Pilecki on the square by the Museum, the implementation of the unique educational and exhibition project "Museum on the Water" and the establishment of a prize in the name of Lt. Col. Jan Kowalewski, reached millions of people around the world.
The activities of the Museum also include ambitious and modern projects, such as a highly specialized conservation studio launched in 2018, the successful New Technologies Zone that allows historical messages to more easily reach younger audiences, the Museum Cinema and an active theater school for children and young adults. The museum implements a conscious policy of social responsibility, such as taking an active part in numerous pro-ecological activities, ensuring the preservation of biodiversity in the areas adjacent to the Museum, protecting bird species or producing broadcasts about the meeting of culture and nature, a subject we meet on a daily basis during our work on the Westerplatte peninsula.
Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Museum has effectively and consistently implemented activities relevant to the new reality, modifying the pre-existing communication strategy. Every day, on social media and on the Museum’s website, materials on the Second World War are published, in the form of interesting information, exhibitions presented in virtual reality, accounts of witnesses to history, virtual walks, along with other interesting scientific, educational and cultural materials. The institution makes use of a number of opportunities resulting from new technologies, to make sure we effectively manage to reach a wide audience. These projects include, among others the WBMF.online platform together with the "Digital Westerplatte" project, which is the first in the world to simultaneously use VR and AR technologies for digitally recreated historical scenes and locations. In addition, the Museum makes all of its digitized collections available on Sketchfab, so broadly promoting our historical heritage. In 2020, over a period of three weeks, these materials were viewed by several thousand Internet users, placing them in the top ten of the best projects in the world in the area of cultural and historical heritage. As part of the Oral History Portal of the Museum of the Second World War, 73 reports by witnesses to history were made available free of charge, supplemented with transcriptions in Polish or English and copies of documents and archival photos, which has become an invaluable source of learning about the past. The Museum's social profiles occupy top positions in the ranking of popularity among museum accounts from Poland and around the world, and only in 2020 did the # M2WS campaign virtually achieve the staggering number of over 35 million views.
In addition to all of this, for over a year the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk has been implementing the # M2WS Bezpiecznie campaign. This consists of numerous activities and initiatives addressed both to the local community and showing the solidarity of institutions in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. In April 2020, as part of the "Mask and Book" campaign, the facility distributed 18,000 sets to the inhabitants of Gdańsk, consisting of a protective mask and a book published by the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk. As part of the "Hotel for Medics" campaign, the Museum provided free-of-charge accommodation in the hotel part of the institution for the use of medical staff working in the Pomeranian Voivodeship. As part of the #SzszczimySie project, the Museum also actively participated in a campaign to encourage vaccination against COVID-19. Since October 21st, 2020, until further notice, the institution's underground parking has been handed over to a COVID-19 drive-thru UCK Test Center. In order to help cope with the difficult times we all face, the Museum has made our exhibitions available not only inside the building, but also in the open space outside, such as the popular exhibitions "Poles in the Free City of Gdańsk" and "The Airmen". All of these initiatives show the solidarity of the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and are real, effective actions in line with the implementation of our policy of social responsibility.
The activities presented above are just a few of the many being carried out by the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk.
You can learn more about the current activities being carried out by the Museum through our websites and social media channels: