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Polish Jewish history museum chooses new director, ending controversy

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — Poland’s Jewish history museum has chosen a new director, ending the controversy over its leadership.

The Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews has been without a director for months since the country’s culture minister, Piotr Glinski, refused to accept the reappointment of Dariusz Stola, who directed the museum from 2014 to 2019.

This week, Stola agreed to step down from the position in order to break the stalemate. The new director is Zygmunt Stępinski, who has been approved by Glinski and will serve for three years. Stepinski has been serving as interim director and previously was Stola’s deputy.

The stalemate dates back to the middle of last year. In May, a search committee recommended keeping Stola as director, but in September, Glinski said he would not reappoint Stola because he “had a very aggressive political policy at the museum.”

In 2018, the Polin Museum organized an exhibition on the anti-Semitic campaign of March 1968, which forced several thousand Jews to leave Poland. The exhibition also showed examples of contemporary anti-Semitism, including online entries by two journalists working in public television.

Piotr Wislicki, the board chair of Poland’s Jewish Historical Institute, disagreed with Glinski’s take.

“I consider these statements to be unfounded, undermining the credibility of the museum,” Wislicki said in a statement.

Several private donors have suspended their donations over the stalemate.