The idea of creating the Museum of the History of Polish Jews originated from the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute and was gradually recognised in Poland and abroad. Thanks to the support of individual, as well as institutional donors from all over the world, in 1995 it was possible to commence and continue the work on the museum project as a public initiative. In 2005 the Museum of the History of Polish Jews was officially founded.
The Museum of the History of Polish Jews is the first public-private institution in Poland. It was founded jointly by the government (the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage), the local government (the Capital City of Warsaw) and a non-governmental organization (the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute). The founding act specified that the public partners were to finance the construction of the Museum’s building and cover most of the current expenses. The Association of the Jewish Historical Institute was responsible for financing and organizing the process of preparation of the core exhibition, as well as for contributing to the current operating budget and for financing the Museum’s public and educational activities.
Jerzy Halbersztadt oversaw all of the Association’s work in creating the Museum of the History of Polish Jews from 1999 to 2011, initially as Project Director and then as the Association’s Coordinator for the Museum, and in the years 2006-2011 as the Museum’s first director. As such, he played a major role in creating the Museum, including its design and construction.
More than five hundred donors from all over the world joined the fundraising campaign run by the Association, donating PLN 165 million, of which PLN 145 million was raised towards the core exhibition, and 20 million towards educational and public programmes implemented in cooperation with the Museum, and towards statutory operation of the Association.
After opening of the core exhibition in October 2014, the Association continues to work with partners from around the world to raise awareness of this unique place and garner support from an international community of donors.