In most cases, we know very little about these people and they often remain completely anonymous. Sometimes there is just enough information to pick up the scent and fire the imagination.
And yet the items collected at the Museum do not cease to bear testimony to individual people's lives. An inconspicuous pepper mill, a painted dowry chest made by a Jewish carpenter, beads with a faded ribbon, the last will of an illiterate housewife, a wedding photograph of a former servant, a stool from a Lemko cottage, a lump of resin used to treat illnesses at home and a key to an unknown door. Objects taken out from someone's life provide brief access into the world of our ancestors.
Just like today, the reality in the past was not the same for everyone. The following questions have been posed at the exhibition: Who Can Afford to Have Land? Who Can Afford Love? Who Can Afford to Have a Childhood? Who Can Afford to Go to School? Who Can Afford to Be Healthy? Who Can Afford to Have Water? Who Can Afford to Rest? Who Can Afford to Have Work? Who Can Afford to Have a House? And lastly Who Can Afford to Have Memories?
We invoke the voices of those who rarely had the opportunity to speak for themselves. We believe that thanks to this trick you can meet concrete, individual people at the exhibition who cannot be treated collectively.
The space is filled with personal stories, it is full of contexts and topics - we do not exhaust any of them. We welcome your observations about them. How do you want to remember your ancestors? Do you recognize yourselves in their gestures, words and decisions? How do you want to talk about your heritage? What role does the Museum have to play here?
The exhibition Who Can Afford? opens on the first floor of the Town Hall at pl. Wolnica 1. It may be treated as an independent whole or as part of the MEK core exhibition - it is part of the process of changes that we are introducing in this space.
The citations come from contemporary studies conducted by the Ethnographic Museum in Krakow and from three published sources: Pamiętniki chłopów, with a foreword by Ludwik Krzywicki, Instytut Ekonomii Społecznej, Warszawa 1935, Ostatnie pokolenie. Autobiografie polskiej młodzieży żydowskiej okresu międzywojennego z kolekcji YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York (compiled and introduced by Alina Cała, texts written in Yiddish translated by Michał Friedmann), Sic!, Warszawa 2003 and Feliks Gross, Zygmunt Mysłakowski, Robotnicy piszą. Pamiętniki robotników, studium wstępne, Księgarnia Powszechna, Krakow 1938.
Team of curators: Olga Błaszczyńska, Dorota Majkowska-Szajer, Agnieszka Marczak, Małgorzata Oleszkiewicz, Karolina Pachla-Wojciechowska, Katarzyna Piszczkiewicz, Magdalena Zych
Texts written by Dorota Majkowska-Szajer
Proofread by Ewa Ślusarczyk
Translated into English by Klara Laudańska
Sovew chhavoro / My sonny is asleep lullaby – lyrics, music, vocals by Teresa Mirga
Exhibition layout by Katarzyna Piszczkiewicz
Drawings by Olaf Cirut
Produced and assembled by
Supervised by restorer Agata Barczyńska
Digitised by Marian Długosz, Mateusz Król, Andrzej Sułkowski
Promotion by Olga Łuczyńska-Gawron