Polish culture exhibition set for National Museum

By Ellen O’Regan

Galway based Polish nonprofit organisation Bardzo Ładnie is to collaborate with the National Museum of Ireland on a major new series of virtual exhibitions about Polish culture.

The project, entitled ‘Cross Cultural Examinations of Traditions of Ireland and Poland’, has been launched by Iwona Kwiek, head of Bardzo Ładnie, in cooperation with the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Lodz, Poland.

Bardzo Ładnie operates between Galway and Łódź, Poland, and aims to promote culture as well as cultural education. Its main goals are to increase intercultural dialogue, and active tolerance, treating difference as a value, not a reason for exclusion.

For the past six years, Ms Kwiek has built connections between Polish and Irish people and institutions through organising events in Galway. She is now embarking on this international project.

The virtual exhibitions will explore common links between Irish and Polish myths, beliefs, and celebrations.

Ms Kwiek said she hoped the project might develop into a physical exhibition, and possibly a permanent installation at the National Museum.

According to 2016 census data, there are 122,515 Polish nationals living in Ireland, making them the largest non Irish population group. Around 5 per cent of the population of Galway city are Polish.

“We have a very big Polish community here in Galway, and in Ireland. You can think you know a lot about us, the stereotypes that we are good workers or whatever, but you don’t know a lot or everything. I truly believe that it is very important for Irish people to know that we have very deep and very colourful culture,” said Ms Kwiek.

Ms Kwiek said she hoped the new partnership would introduce more Irish people to Polish culture.

“A lot of Irish people have Polish neighbours. It’s important for me to show you a little bit of our culture, show you who’s living next door. We would like to be understood. If you know more about us you won’t be scared, and we can feel more at home,” she said.

The events Ms Kwiek organises are not only educational and engaging for those in attendance, but aim to create lasting relationships between Irish and Polish cultural institutions involved.

“It’s very important, not only the connection between Polish and Irish people here on the streets of Galway, but also connections between institutions to create something bigger, after I help them to meet. That’s what we like to do at Bardzo Ładnie, to try to create bridges,” she added.

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