The Polish Museum of America, founded in 1935, is one of the oldest and ethnic museums in the United States. Located in the heart of the Polish neighborhood of Chicago, it promotes the knowledge of Polish history, culture, especially promulgates Polish and Polish American art in its paintings, sculptures, drawings and lithographs by well-known artists. It offers exhibits in addition to cultural programs such as lectures, movies and slide presentations, theater performances, meetings with schools and people dedicated to Polish Culture from all over the world.
The Polish Museum of America was established in 1935 as the “Museum and Archives of Polish Roman Catholic Union of America”. One of the most visited rooms is the Ignacy Jan Paderewski Room which was started around June 1941 through generous donations from his sister Antonina Paderewski Wilkonska. The room includes items also donated from the Buckingham Hotel in New York City where Paderewski spent the last months of his life. The room was officially opened to the public on November 3, 1941.
There are many that believe that the museum but especially the Paderewski Room may be haunted, perhaps by Paderewski himself. I was first contacted by Len Kurdek who related many stories by a number of people including the cleaning staff that often experiences ghostly-related phenomena late at night.
According to an article in the Polish Museum of America’s Newsletter of Autumn 2004 written by Mr. Kurdek and I quote:
“Operations Manager Rich Kujawa is our resident Paderewski expert and chief raconteur about these eerie events. Over the past few years, Rich has made a ritual of placing flowers on the mantel over the PR’s (Paderewski’s Room) fireplace on the maestro’s birthday, November 6th, and also on June 29th, the day he died. Rich has noticed that the flowers and their fragrance endure well beyond November 6th, while those from June 29th strangely leave no scent and die within a few days. Rich also recalls an incident that occurred while he was giving a tour of the PR to a school group. For some odd reason, the cassette tape began playing Paderewski’s minuet on its own, and then just as mysteriously stopped playing after a short while.
“Also two former Mormon missionary museum volunteers told Rich they would periodically hear the sound of someone typing while they were working on a poster project in the PR. On display in that room is Paderewski’s typewriter. Rich says Paderewski was known as a practical joker in life, so perhaps what we’ve been witnessing is the handiwork of a mischievous but basically benevolent ghost. Another source of unusual tales is Helena Glinczak of our maintenance staff. Helena has long felt ‘spooked’ by a presence in the PR, but she has since learned to live with it. A former weekend guide also often spoke of her reluctance to enter the PR for the same reason.”
Other experiences are of a olfactory nature and have been smelled by Kurdek on the first floor, near the museum’s conference room and the adjoining corridor. He has gotten a whiff of something burning and food cooking when there was no source to explain this.
A date was then set up thru Mr. Wallace M. Ozog, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Museum and July 30, 2004 was picked. A copy of the Field Report follows:
Historical and paranormal accounts were supplied by Len Kurdek.
Equipment used: Tri-Field Natural EM Meters which pick up EMF (electromagnetic frequency) fluctuations, Raytek non-contact thermometer guns, Temperature/hygrometer device to both determine temperature and humidity readings inside the building, Magnetic Field Detector to pick up background and normal EMF readings, Sony nightvision cameras that were set up in totally dark conditions to record any movements or possible apparitions, Wireless FM transmitter which was connected to a open-reel tape recorder to pick up possible EVP (electronic voice phenomena) and any other strange sounds that might be present, Geiger Counter to detect and record any high level of radiation, Negative Ion Detector (Static Field Detector) was employed to pick up high levels or spikes of negative ions or static electricity, Field Strength Meter was used to pick up and detect normal and abnormal amounts of electricity in the air, FM transceivers were used as communication devices between the team members and the command post, flashlights, G.E.I.S.T. (Geophysically Equipped Instrument of Scientific Testing) device was used in conjunction with a Polling Box and laptop computers to monitor the instruments that were connected to it.
Initial walk through: All team members with the exception of Graczyk and Kaczmarek had no prior knowledge of any haunting phenomena. This modus operandi is used so that no preconceived notions or conclusions can be drawn by any team member prior to the initial sweep or Stage 1 of any investigation. All team members were provided maps of the layout of the museum, issued 2-way radios and told to bring some piece of scientific equipment with them as they began they sweep. Any deviations while walking through any area of the museum was noted on the maps with numbers and the corresponding numbers were then expanded upon on notepads as to what they experienced. Whether it was an instrument fluctuation or a response to their natural senses. All three floors were completely investigated including the Paderewski Room. After all team members had a chance to walk through the entire public sections of the museum, the maps along with any impressions or equipment fluctuations. Stage 2 began with Kaczmarek explaining to the assembled team the various forms of paranormal disturbances had been reported over the years by various cleaning ladies, security and other museum employees. At that time, they were able to compare what they picked up against those areas mentioned by the employees and workers of the museum. Stage 3 was then initiated. The last stage is to revisit those areas where impressions or equipment fluctuations were noted earlier along with sections of the museum where nothing was noted but where phenomena had been noted in the past by museum employees. While that was being conducted, a command post was being set up in the stairwell near the bookstore and gift shop. This consisting of a table and chairs, laptop computers, G.E.I.S.T. device, television monitors, FM receiver, FM transceiver, tape recorders and clipboards, pens and paper for scribbling notes and observations.
Impressions: One team felt feeling of uneasiness near the archway in the Paderewski Room opposite the chair. It was described as a feeling of power pulling them toward that side. Also in that room near the bed a feeling of dizziness or light-headedness was described as if being thrown of balance a bit. On the third floor by a bronze sculpture (Art Gallery) and the chair, a fairly high reading was recorded on the MFD-1 (magnetic field detector).
Setup: G.E.I.S.T. was connected to the Polling Device and ordinary telephone cable was used and inserted into three different devices including the Tri-Field Natural EM Meter, Negative Ion Detector and Geiger Counter which were placed in the Paderewski Room. Most of the high-tech gear was placed in the Paderewski Room because that seems to have been the main focus of a lot of phenomena as noted by museum employees. Two Sony nightvision cameras were placed in the room and aligning themselves to shoot in opposite directions but across the bed and furniture used by Paderewski in the room. These cameras were connected by wireless RF (radio frequency) modulators to coax cables which were then threaded up the stairwell and connected directly into the television monitors. This way we were able to monitor the room, in real time, anytime happening. Of course, the cameras were loaded with tape to record any minute phenomena the human eye might have missed. A wireless FM transmitter was situated close to the display case in the Paderewski Room which houses a typewriter. It was alleged in the past that the sound of a typewriter was held in the room on occasion. The FM transmitter sent a signal that was picked up by an ordinary radio and then recorded by an open-reel tape recorder. Another Sony nightvision camera was initially set up on the top floor facing a chair in an alcove and later moved to face the opposite direction.
Phenomena: On three distinct occasions the door to the offices downstairs and directly across from the Paderewski Room, even though it was propped open with a doorstop, closed on several occasions. This we could not explain but it was solidly wedged against the wooden doorstop. Throughout the evening G.E.I.S.T. did take a few remote pictures in the Paderewski Room as did Kaczmarek and other team members. Random photographs using both 35MM SLR (single lens reflex) cameras and digital cameras were used. In reviewing the audio tape recordings made that evening: nothing out of the ordinary was heard in any of the tapes. None of the 35MM, digital or G.E.I.S.T. cameras photographed anything unusual throughout the evening and nothing unusual was seen or recorded to date on any of the Sony nightvision cameras. Several “suspect” portions of the Paderewski Room video tapes are still being analyzed at present and if anything unusual or paranormal is found, copies will be forwarded to Mr. Ozog and the Polish Museum of America with a full analysis.
Conclusions: The evening in the museum was enjoyed by all but it was extremely quiet and quite inactive. While this does not rule out the possibility that the museum does harbor some ghosts or entities, it does suggest that either they were aware of the investigation that was going on and unwilling to make an appearance or perhaps there was just a lull in the activity that particular evening. Ghosts are very spontaneous beings and often don’t like to perform or “make an appearance” in front of a large group of people or paranormal investigators. They often appear in cycles; sometimes taking a large period of time before enough sufficient energy is built up to cause physical, psychical or visual phenomena to be detected.
The Polish Museum of America is at 984 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, IL. 60622; phone: 773-384-3352. Hours of operation are: Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 10am-4pm, Wednesday 1-7pm and closed on Thursday and Sunday. If you wish more information or wish to become member or give a gift membership logon to: Polish Museum of America
Ghost Research Society (www.ghostresearch.org)
© 2005 Dale Kaczmarek. All rights reserved.
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