The AEJM Annual Conference 2014 took place from 15 until 18 November at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. More than 110 delegates from 28 countries participated in lectures, panel discussions, and workshops of this year’s edition Approaches to Authenticity: the Virtual vs. the Material vs. the Recreated.
At the opening evening AEJM President Dr Hanno Loewy started the Conference with a commemoration of the victims of the attack on the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels. In How Polish? How Jewish? Prof. Monika Adamczyk-Garbowska, head of the Centre for Jewish Studies at the Marie Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, and journalist Konstanty Gebert discussed together with Hanno Loewy the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in the context of Polish-Jewish discourse.
In her keynote lecture “Polish Gentiles doing Jewish stuff” Dr Erica Lehrer, Canada Research Chair in Post-Conflict Memory, Ethnography and Museology at Concordia University in Montreal, focused on the troubled question of “authenticity”, discussing the Jewish heritage revival in Poland as a space of profound encounter for both Jews and non-Jews. The topic Approaches to Authenticity: the Virtual vs. the Material vs. the Recreated was further explored by Joanne Rosenthal in the panel discussion with Dr Tamara Sztyma-Knasiecka, Ruth Ellen Gruber and Dr Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek.
Delegates not only had the chance to visit the recently opened core exhibition of POLIN, but also to discuss the exhibition with Prof. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and the curatorial team of the museum. In various workshops at POLIN and the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute delegates explored and discussed curatorial practice, provenance research and museum education. During an evening reception at the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute delegates also visited the exhibition Salvaged. A collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures from the holdings of the JHI.
On 19 November a group of 35 delegates participated in an excursion to Łódź. After an introduction to the history of the city and its Jewish heritage by Joanna Podolska at the Marek Edelman Center for Dialogue, the group visited the Jewish Cemetery. Curator Maria Milanowska welcomed the group to the exhibition Maurycy Gottlieb. In Search of Identity at the Herbst Palace Museum. At the Muzeum Sztuki ms1 visited the exhibition Teresa Żarnower (1897-1949). An Artist of the End of Utopia, a retrospective about the life and works of Polish-Jewish artist Teresa Żarnower.