Dariusz Stola, the former director of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, has been named the recipient of the 2020 Irena Sendler Memorial Award, an award presented annually by Taube Philanthropies to honor people “who have been exemplary in preserving and revitalizing Poland’s Jewish heritage.”
The Award, founded in 2008, is named for the Polish social worker who saved hundreds of Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto during the Nazi occupation.
Stola was honored “for his visionary leadership of POLIN Museum, a sophisticated and complex world-class public institution, whose overnight success had been lauded and honored throughout Prof. Stola’s tenure, from March 2014 to February 2019.”
Stola is a historian of Poland under Communism, the Holocaust, Polish-Jewish relations, social memory, and international migrations in the 20th century. He left the museum after the Polish Minister of Culture refused to confirm him for a second term as director despite Stola’s having won a competition for the post organized by the museum’s co-founders.
“Since it opened in 2013, the POLIN Museum has been visited by 3.75 million people, while nearly 2 million have visited the core exhibition, which opened in October 2014. Around 44 percent of these visitors come from abroad, the largest group coming from Israel, followed by the United States,” read the award announcement
Under Stola’s leadership, the museum was awarded the title of European Museum of the Year in 2016 and the EMA (European Museum Academy Award), and in 2017, it received the Europa Nostra Award, the most important award in Europe for outstanding achievement in the protection, research, and promotion of cultural heritage. According to the award, the museum “created a safe haven to engage in an intercultural dialogue, thus offering a vital lesson to today’s world.”