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Impasse at Jewish museum in Warsaw approaches turning point

WARSAW, Poland — A long stalemate over the future independence of Warsaw’s landmark Jewish history museum is building toward a crucial turning point after the former director — who won a competition for another term but whom Poland’s populist government refuses to reinstate — offered to renounce the job.

Dariusz Stola on Tuesday said that he was willing to give up his legal right to be director of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews if an agreement can be found “for the institution’s further functioning.” He said he made the offer because of the damage already done to the acclaimed institution and “the threats that it continues to face.”

An emergency meeting of museum donors and other stakeholders was called for Wednesday afternoon to decide the next step.

The museum — which tells the 1,000-year history of Jewish life in Polish lands — was seen as a symbol of the young democracy seeking to celebrate its multicultural past and revive the Jewish civilization that was nearly destroyed by Nazi Germany. Under creation for two decades, the museum opened in 2013 and its permanent exhibition in 2014.

The impasse over the leadership of the museum has dragged on for nearly a year, creating anxieties about the future of one of the world’s most prominent Jewish museums. Already some donors have suspended donations and the lack of a permanent director has impeded long-term planning.

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