Museum of the History of Polish Jews reinforced with ArcelorMittal rebars

Located in the former heart of Jewish Warsaw, the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews is a modern building that houses a centre of culture, education and research with the mission to recall the thousand years of Jewish history in Poland. ArcelorMittal's contribution to this building is invisible, yet important: 1.000 tn of rebar were supplied.

Detailed information

The Museum: remembering Polish-Jewish history

The main mission of this new museum, regarded as one of the finest public buildings in Warsaw, is “to contribute to the formation of modern individual and collective identities amongst Poles, Jews, Europeans and citizens of the world by recalling the thousand years of Polish-Jewish history.”

Located in what in World War 2 became the Warsaw Ghetto, the former heart of Jewish culture in the Poland's capital city, the new building is surrounded by a park and faces the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes.

Opened officially on April 19th 2013, the day that marked the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the largest act of armed resistance by the Polish Jews in World War 2, the Museum's vision is to be a platform for social change, offering a profound, transformative experience and promoting new standards of narrating history.

The idea for this museum was born in 1996 but it was not until 2005 when the institution of the Museum of Polish Jews was officially founded by the Association of Jewish History Institute of Poland, the City of Warsaw and the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. It is the first institution in Poland that was financed in a public private partnership. Construction was finally started in 2009.

The building and its architecture

The design of this landmark building was developed by the Finnish architectural study Rainer Mahlamäki & Ilmari Lahdelma.

Square in plan and with the same dimensions of the reformulated area of the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes, the museum consists of a large orthogonal volume offering a total of 12.800m2 exhibition space, two thirds of which will be occupied by the core exposition about the thousand- year history of Polish Jews which will be officially opened in 2014. Furthermore, it offers temporary exhibition areas, a multi-purpose auditorium, an educational centre, two screening rooms, a restaurant and a café.

The building is clad in glass and copper, which creates a dynamic interplay between light and form. The glass panels of the façade are decorated with a special screen print pattern of letters of the Hebrew and Latin alphabet, forming the word “Polin”, the Hebrew word for Poland.

In the interior, a curved passageway opens up to the visitors and separates the interior space. Similar to a natural canyon or a cave and lit from above, its curvy walls represent the parting of the seas (Yam Suf) referring to the passage or transcendence between the long trajectory of the Polish Jewish history and a generous opening to a pacific, fertile culture. The walls consist of a complicated structure made of sprayed concrete – a challenge in design and construction.

ArcelorMittal steel: hidden, but crucial

In this project, steel plays an important role although it is not apparent: its concrete structure is reinforced by rebars produced and supplied by ArcelorMittal Warszawa.

Project Information

  • Warsaw
  • Poland
  • Architect:
    Rainer Mahlamäki & Ilmari Lahdelma
  • 2007 - 2013
  • Client:
    Museum of the History of Polish Jews (City of Warsaw, Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage & Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland)
  • Contractor:
  • Photographer:
    Magda Starowieyska & Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich