While in Gdańsk we took the time to visit the Solidarity museum. This museum was interesting in relation to the others we visit on this trip; Throughout our travels, many of the museums, memorials, and historical sites that we spend time at are dedicated to the acknowledgement and remembrance of tragedy. We’ve spent time at three sites of former concentration and/or extermination camps as well as several museums dedicated to remembrance of the holocaust and World War II. All of these are reminders of deeply troubling events, and contribute to the polish narrative of Poland as the “Christ of Nations”. However, the Solidarity museum was different. While there were certainly events at the Solidarity museum which referenced tragedy, the focus of the museum was the formation and success of a once-labour-union-turned-social movement.
The history of the movement was interesting as well. The museum told the story of a shift in power resulting from the actions of the people (occurring, of course, after many years and in a mix of conditions from which a successful movement could arise). From the first exhibit, those who visit the museum are met with a tangible representation of the goals of the movement – doors on which the 21 demands were printed, a physical manifestation of the demands of the members of a society, a particularly powerful and moving historical icon and part of the UNESCO Memory of the World register. The museum was an altogether worthwhile experience and a welcome portion of the field study experience.