Work is to begin soon in an outdoor ethnographic museum in southeast Poland on the construction of a full-scale replica of the wooden synagogue of Połaniec, which was destroyed, along with the Jewish population of the town, during World War II.
The synagogue replica will be built as part of a Galician Market Square, which is part of the Folk Architecture Museum in Sanok, Poland’s largest open-air ethnographic museum, or skansen. Virtual Shtetl, citing local media, reports:
This two-storey building with a hip roof was destroyed in 1943. The replica in the outdoor museum in Sanok will be 22m x 11m in size. An exhibition showcasing Judaica from the collection of the Folk Architecture Museum will be displayed inside. These artifacts are currently being kept in a storehouse.
Ample documentation of the synagogue survives, and the museum asked students of the Department of Architecture at the University of Oregon’s School of Architecture and Allied Arts, directed by architectural historian Thomas C. Hubka and project consultant Howard Davis, to formulate proposals to assist in the reconstruction of the building. Hubka is an expert on wooden synagogues and the author of the book “Resplendent Synagogue: Architecture and Worship in an Eighteenth-Century Polish Community.”
The Sanok museum collects original buildings from the region, most of them wooden structures — houses, barns, churches. Its small but valuable collection of Judaica, photographs, paintings and other material has been displayed in one of the buildings, along with Christian folk art and artifacts.
The Galician Market Square, however, consists of replicas, or reconstructions, arranged around a square to approximate the look of a typical town from the mid-19th century in the Podkarpackie Province.
The square opened to visitors nearly three years ago, although work continues on it. Citing local media, Virtual Shtetl reports that some 29 buildings have been completed, “including the municipal hall, a post office, an inn, a shop and various workshops.”.
Already in 2011, the director of the Sanok museum described plans to build the synagogue replica to JHE coordinator Ruth Ellen Gruber. The Sanok Museum is where the first stages took place in the construction of the replica of the ceiling and roof of the Gwozdziec wooden synagogue, which now forms a key installation of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. It was the great interest aroused by the Gwozdziec project, in fact, that prompted the decision to include a reconstruction of a synagogue in the Galician Market Square installation.