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A Portal to Gwoździec: The Next Phase of the MAKING/HISTORY Wooden Synagogue Project

By Handshouse Studio

Published Apr 17, 2023

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Collection

This Curation is part of A Portal to Gwoździec.

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The Gwozdziec Re!construction at the POLIN Museum

Above: (4 min) An overview of the Gwozdziec replica roof of the synagogue installed at the Museum POLIN. Courtesy of Museum POLIN. Production: Panato. Music: Mikołaj Trzaska.

 

Making History

It has been 10 years since the final installation of the Handshouse Studio Gwoździec Re!construction, now a permanent centerpiece of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. This landmark project offered Handshouse Studio the opportunity to bring together more than 350 participants to take part in accurately reconstructing the 18th-century timber roof structure, painted ceiling, and Bimah from archival records of the wooden synagogue that once stood in the village of Gwoździec. 

We are so grateful to mark this moment with a significant new effort to make decades of historical research more accessible to the general public.

Through the MAKING/HISTORY Wooden Synagogue Project, Handshouse produced an extensive collection of historical material research that is vital to the continued work of recovering lost heritage. We have also established a powerful educational model for learning-by-doing through workshops that create a dynamic learning environment where students, experts, teachers, and specialists all become learners; where everyone contributes to the process and everyone learns. Through this immersive investigative process, Handshouse participants accurately and collaboratively remake lost historical objects, reawakening whole worlds of both tangible and intangible cultural heritage. 

The calls for access to our research and continued interest in our unique hands-on educational approach lead us to explore new ways to expand our capacity to share our process and resources. 

 

What’s next?

Through the support of Mass Humanities grant funding, and collaboration with the POLIN Museum, we hope that creating the new, interactive site A Portal to Gwoździec will offer us the forum to share our research and unique hands-on process of illuminating this history, eventually expanding and deepening the contextual resources with contributions from other notable historians, architects, scholars, craftspeople, and project participants. A Portal to Gwoździec is the next chapter of the MAKING/HISTORY: Wooden Synagogue Project, a project to build the window to our research and unique hands-on process of illuminating this history for a wider public. 

Introducing: A Portal to Gwoździec

Above: (17 sec) Clip of the Gwoździec synagogue reconstruction from “A Portal to Gwoździec”, the interactive site launching soon. Gwoździec Re!construction exhibit at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews (launching soon). Courtesy of Handshouse Studio and Trillium Studios.

Introducing: A Portal to Gwoździec

Above: (17 sec) “Exhibit 2”: A view from under the bimah. Clip from “A Portal to Gwoździec”, the interactive site launching soon. Gwoździec Re!construction exhibit at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Courtesy of Handshouse Studio and Trillium Studios.

 

Click here to return to the homepage of the digital exhibit on Kolture.

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Handshouse Studio is a non-profit, educational organization that works to illuminate history, understand science, and perpetuate the arts.

Reflections

What is a replica?

Is the Handshouse Studio reconstruction of the Gwoździec synagogue a replica? What is the difference between a replica and a reconstruction?

What is the meaning of repair?

If the original is gone, and there is nothing to be restored, is a reconstruction a restoration? How can rebuilding still be an act of repair?

If it is not original, is it an authentic object?

As Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett Ronald S. Lauder Chief Curator, Core Exhibition of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, asks “What constitutes an “original” or “actual” or “authentic” object?”

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