Modern art at Schindler’s Factory

Italian architects will design a museum of contemporary art which will be created in the former Schindler?s Factory in Krakow. They won the contest of the Krakow Municipality for best design.
The Italians were invited to Krakow to negotiate the arrangement. They must finish the final project plan before the end of the year 2007, to allow construction to start at the beginning of 2008.
?The project will cost 2 mln zloty and we estimate the construction costs to be around 40 mln zloty,? said Rafal Zawisza, the contest?s secretary. The funds will be provided by the Krakow Municipality and Treasury.
The winning project, according to the jury, will harmonize with the atmosphere of the former Schindler?s Factory. The design presented by the Italian architects Claudio Nardi and Leonardo Maria Proli respects the emotional and historical identity of Schindler?s Factory. The judges appreciated the project?s minimalism, harmony, simplicity and use of clear spatial solutions and high quality materials. The design?s authors were awarded 40,000 zloty.
It wasn?t an easy task to design a museum in a former factory. The project must have taken into consideration workshops elsewhere already revitalized with respect to the factory?s dramatic history.
The museum designed by the Italians is modest and elegant. In contrary to other projects, it does not tower over the area. The authors kept in mind the construction of former workshops. The plan of creating a contemporary art museum in Schindler?s Factory has raised controversy among some councilors from the ruling Law and Justice Party (?Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc?) who state that a place where Jews were once exploited as forced laborers is not suitable for presenting modern art. The councilors said that the space should rather be used to build the Museum of the Righteous Among Nations.
Oskar Schindler?s name and factory became known worldwide thanks to Steven Spielberg?s film, ?The Schindler?s List.? The German industrialist and member of the Nazi party gained ownership of the enamelware factory in Krakow in 1939 and obtained Jewish slave laborers to work there. In 1967, Schindler was honored as one of the Righteous Among Nations for saving Jews during the Holocaust at great personal risk — the only former member of the Nazi party to receive such an award.
According to Janusz Sepiol, the cultural affairs attorney of Mayor of Krakow Jacek Majchrowski, the protests are a matter of a slight misunderstanding.
?Nazis hated Jews, Poles, Roma, Slavs and contemporary art. Creating a museum of contemporary art in the former Schindler?s Factory can be understood as a triumph over Nazism,? he stated.
Presently, Schindler?s Factory is empty and only rarely hosts art exhibitions. Recently, the factory was opened on the occasion of ?Photomonth in Krakow? and soon will host an exhibition of contemporary sculpture.
Krakow does not have a contemporary art museum.
Krakow is often called a city of culture and deserves a place where modern art can be presented ? if not at Schindler?s Factory, then most certainly elsewhere.

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