Shedding Light on the Museum MEK

Shedding Light on the Museum: An outdoor projection

Shedding Light on the Museum:  An outdoor projection  


Since being declared a red zone, it’s almost impossible to organize events in city spaces. Almost…


During Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, join us as we shed light on the Kraków Ethnographic Museum (MEK) – and on museums’ social and political roles more generally. In collaboration with anthropologist and curator Erica Lehrer (Canada / Poland), and artists Jacqueline Nicholls (UK), Wiktor Podgórski (Poland), and Dorota Mytych (Poland / Australia), we have designed a multimedia installation raising questions about how museums influence us, individually and collectively.


The key element in this project is a partnership with the Kraków Ethnographic Museum. In an admirable gesture of openness, they have agreed to work with us to tackle the difficult problem of the museum’s own heritage.


Over the last two years, FestivALT has developed a “critical friendship” with MEK . Despite its location in the heart of Kraków’s former Jewish district, and its focus on what was, historically, highly multicultural village life, the presence of non-Catholic, non-Slavic Polish people, culture, and traditions is hardly noticeable in its permanent exhibition, and the few references to others that do exist are often problematic.


In 2019 FestivALT entered into dialogue with MEK representatives about how their exhibit treats ethnic minorities. In the wake of these conversations, the museum has shifted the way it presents some of its artefacts – in particular, removing and contextualizing masks of Jews with overtly antisemitic overtones.


In spite of the challenges introduced by the pandemic, we are continuing the dialogue. By opening a conversation with Kraków’s Jewish community – as well as all the city’s residents – about the role of museums in how we view “the Polish nation” and “others,” both FestivALT and MEK hope to provoke discussion about the shape of the exhibition, and the role of the museum, after lockdown. We also want to link this discussion with broader questions about the direction our society will go post-pandemic.


From December 15th through 18th, from 17:00–22:00 each evening, we will project images, artworks, and critical questions on (and beyond) the facade of the Ethnographic Museum at Plac Wolnica 1, shedding light on these difficult but important topics. ***On the opening night our online vernissage will stream live on Facebook.***



Read the curatorial statements.

Download Full Curatorial Document


Thanks to:

The Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland (“Public Diplomacy 2020—A New Dimension”) Allianz Kulturstiftung The Dutch Jewish Humanitarian Fund The Curating and Public Scholarship Lab at Concordia University, Montreal Thinking Through the Museum The Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum in Krakow

**The performance reflects the views of its creators and does not reflect the official position of any of the sponsors