“This is our great story. The history of the fight against the partitioner, tsarist regime, and then the struggle against the Soviets. It will forever be known as the history of the fight for Poland and for Polishness,” said President Andrzej Duda during the opening of the Siberian Memorial Museum in Białystok, north-eastern Poland.
The opening ceremony of the facility took place on the 82nd anniversary of the Soviet attack on Poland and on World Siberian Day. They are attended, among others, by President of Poland Andrzej Duda, his predecessor Bronisław Komorowski, head of the Ministry of Culture Piotr Gliński, Białystok authorities, Siberians (those exiled to the East, called in Poland “Sybiracy”). “Visitors to the Siberian Memorial Museum will be able to see the difficult testimony of those times and see how important Poland was for previous generations – free, sovereign and independent,” said President Andrzej Duda. He emphasised that he was delighted that this next important institution was established “in the beautifully developing Białystok, that it is another wonderful, modern museum.”
The Siberian Memorial Museum (MPS) was established in 2017 as a municipal cultural institution; then still in a temporary location in the centre of Białystok, its final seat was established at the end of 2019, based on old military warehouses at Węglowa Street.
MPS is a three-story complex with an area of 5,500 square metres which, apart from the former warehouses, also includes a new facility. The main part of the museum is a permanent exhibition that presents the history of the Polish presence in Siberia, from the tsarist deportations into Russia, to Soviet repressions and crimes, including deportations to the East. A separate place in the museum is the “Katyn Memorial”. There is also a bookstore, restaurant, and a place for temporary exhibitions.
At the museum there is a monument commemorating the Heroic Mothers of Siberians, which is an idea of the local branch of the Siberian Association and another place in Białystok to commemorate people deported to the East. Such a place is also the Tomb of the Unknown Siberian, a monument erected at the end of the 1990s.
The construction was financed by the city budget and the Ministry of Culture. The shell of the building cost PLN 37 mln (EUR 8.08 mln), of which PLN 9.4 mln (EUR 2.05 mln) came from the ministry. The museum itself also received PLN 6.8 million (EUR 1.48 mln) from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, from the EU’s Infrastructure and Environment program, for the permanent exhibition and equipment of the facility.