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Italian Exhibition at the Auschwitz Museum Closed


From July 2011, the Italian exhibition at the Auschwitz Memorial is closed to visitors. Not educational in any way, it failed to meet the basic requirements for national exhibitions as set by the International Auschwitz Council, which have been in force since the 1990s.

The Italian exhibition, opened in 1980, was made up of a ribbon of fabric in the form of a spiral, hung with paintings intended to represent various incidents from the history of Italy in the 1930s and 1940s. The designers stated that the final section was supposed to be an apotheosis of positive colors signifying victory over the time of contempt and persecution.

This type of exhibition can be categorized as art for art's sake and would be referred to in a gallery of contemporary art as an installation or performance. This type of art is not presented on the grounds of the former Auschwitz camp, where the educational dimension is connected with remembrance, education, and making the younger generation aware of the tragedy of the victims of the Shoah and the concentration camps, as well as encouraging people to reflect upon their personal responsibility for the world around them and its future.

The organizers of the closed exhibition, the Italian ANED association, have been reminded regularly over the years about the fact that the exhibition did not conform to the rules established by the International Auschwitz Council. Positive talks are underway with the Italian government about creating a new narrative-historical exhibition in the future that will meet the requirements set by the International Auschwitz Council and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

National Exhibitions

Aside from the main exhibition, other permanent exhibitions on the grounds of the Museum, referred to as "national," are open to visitors. The idea dates back to 1946 and the original plans for the Museum. The first national exhibitions opened in the 1960s; they convey information about the Nazi German occupation of countries whose citizens—Jews above all—died in Auschwitz.

The government of a given country designates institutions and organizations to prepare the contents and visual presentation of its exhibition. Over the years, most of these exhibitions have been modernized or completely replaced. For more than a decade, cooperation and consultation with the Auschwitz Museum have preceded each opening of a national exhibition. At present, the Austrian, Belgian, Czech, Dutch, French, Hungarian, Polish, Roma, Russian, and Slovakian exhibitions are open.

A fragment of the closed Italian exhibition. Photo Pawel Sawicki
A fragment of the...