The Old Synagogue and its Jewish Museum in Krakow will be closed for the coming 4-1/2 months for renovation work.
A museum announcement said the synagogue will be closed from November 12, 2019 to March 31, 2020. It did not specify what renovation would be taking place — whether structural or relating to the exhibit.
The gothic building, dating originally from the 15th century and remodeled many times, is the oldest of the seven synagogues that survived World War II in Kazimierz, the city’s old Jewish quarter.
Located at one end of Szeroka, the main square of Kazimierz, it was devastated during the war.
Eli Valley wrote in his 1999 book Great Jewish Cities of Central and Eastern Europe:
When the Germans entered Cracow in 1939, they ordered an end to prayers and turned the building into a storehouse. All of the Altschul’s precious relics and furnishings were either looted or destroyed by the SS. When the storehouse was closed later in the war, Germans came in and, in an orgy of looting and destruction, stripped the entire building of its metal, wood, gothic vaulting and columns. They stripped away so much that the entire ceiling and roof collapsed. It rained and snowed so much in the Altschul that weeds overtook the dilapidated walls and floor. By the end of the war, the Altschul was popularly used as a public toilet.
The synagogue was painstakingly restored in 1956-1959 by the government’s Monuments Preservation Fund and reopened to house a permanent exhibit of the Judaica collection owned by the Krakow City History Museum.
Today the synagogue is one of two Jewish museums in Krakow. The Galicia Jewish Museum, around the corner on Dajwor street, features a core exhibit of photographs of Jewish heritage in southeastern Poland and western Ukraine.