The Emigration Museum in Gdynia is the only place in Poland to retell the emigration story, which is full of emotions, written by millions of Poles, who experienced it. This place will be established on the basis on the reports of ordinary people and it will retell about the mass phenomenon whose significance cannot be overestimated.
Emigration of Poles is a phenomenon that lasts for last decades and it is connected with every country in the world. About 20 million of our compatriots live all around the world, not only in the U.S. or the UK but also Brazil and Australia. Those people were mainly leaving the country due to economic reasons, but every single man’s decision was influenced by dreams, hopes and fears. The Emigration Museum tries to show this intimate dimension of personal stories, which took place during the massive economic and historical processes which happened in our Poland in that times. From each story emanates the desire of freedom and incredible strength of the Polish spirit that enable people to survive in extremely difficult conditions and after a long wandering build your new dreamed home, household and make a successful career. The Polish strength that appears do not need any boundaries what does it need is the awareness of their unlimited possibilities. Those stories tells not only about great courage and determination but also about contact with exoticism, openness to new cultures and pushing their own boundaries. The appropriate setting of that story is provided by the post-industrial harbour Marine Station. The building is situated on the seafront, in the harbour which is a living organism and is surrounded by atmosphere that is inaccessible in the city centre.
To show the whole complexity of all themes and emotions, the Emigration Museum want encourage the guests to take active part in visiting this place, enable them to experience those moments thanks to properly arranged space. The exhibition will provide not only information itself, but also show how great the emotions, which accompanied leaving, were. Taking the visitors to that reality will help to blur the barrier of time and space at the same time it will eliminate the distance and will be a unique experience of empathic communion with the history of the anonymous people for traditional historiography as well as extraordinary ones living in exile.
Gdańsk is not an accidentally selected city to organise this institution. This place, also called “widow to the world” in the 2nd Republic of Poland was the centre of Polish emigration and it is created by migrants from the whole country. The emigration infrastructure was created thanks to collaborative effort of the city elite and central government that rule several districts. They determined a new standard in term of the care of the comfort and dignity of the travellers. In such a way this city, which took part in making history of emigration, in natural way was predisposed to create a place devoted to this topic.
The museum will be located in the Marine Station from which millions of Poles sailed using the Polish ocean liners for over 30 years. The building itself was unique even at the moment of creation, few places in the world can be so proud of such a good background and completely new and “human” approach to very poor people, who could never again return to Poland. It was one of the most monumental achievements of the 2nd Republic of Poland, which in that times had turbulent war and post-war history. Today, this monumental place has a unique atmosphere and the conditions to find room for this complex museum specimens.
The future headquarters will consists of two relatively independent spaces. The first one is the representative Martine Station that has approximately 2500 of the area. Inside, there will be: cinema hall, place for concerts and theatre performances, library with reading room, restaurants and café overlooking the sea and ships for the asking. All of this will be available until late in the evening. It will be place where you can come across the inspiring cultural events and have a good time. Therefore, it will not only be an exhibition place, but also the area of cultural and entertainment activities.
The second part of this complex will be the Transit Warehouse, which is the old passenger check-in hall. The top floor of this building with a large open area over 3600 will be the heart of the Emigration Museum, which is the permanent exhibition. The plasticity and spatial concept competition has already finished. The winner “ae Fusion Studio” was chosen by a jury, which consists of: Małgorzata Szejnert, Allan Starski, Jan Ołdakowski, Dariusz Stola, Paweł Machcewicz and Dariusz Gawin. The exhibition will be ready at the turn of 2014 and 2015.
Commercial and social potential of this project has already been appreciated by the European fund. The Emigration Museum as a first Pomeranian council project received financial support in the amount of 23.8 million zlotych from EU “Jessica”. The total cost of the project is 49.3 millions zlotych and the grand opening is planned at the turn of 2014 and 2015.
Photo © Museum of Gdynia City. The harbour Martine Station, 1935.
The photo on the top © The buliding of Emigration Museum in Gdynia. Visualization of project by ae fusion Studio.
Official website: The Emigration Museum in Gdynia.