News and Events
The Polish Museum of America Staff
Maria Cieśla – President of The Polish Museum of America
Maria Ciesla, President of The Polish Museum of America, began her volunteer activities in the late 1970s as a Sunday docent. She served on the Museum Board for several two-year terms, and was elected President in 2004. She is active in Chicago’s Polonia, civic organizations, and in ovarian cancer awareness advocacy, and has served as President for several of these groups.
Jan M. Lorys - Director
Jan M. Lorys attended Catholic primary school and high school in Chicago. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle in 1971 with a B.A. in Political Science. He worked for the Federal Government for nineteen years before taking a disability retirement, after which he earned an M.A. in History, also from UIC. From September 1992 till June 1996, Mr. Lorys was a bilingual (Polish) teacher with the Chicago Public School System, teaching History and Social Studies. He is the co-producer and writer of a short film on Casimir Pulaski. Jan. Lorys is the Director of the Polish Museum since June 28, 1996.
Mr. Lorys played an important role as a Steering Committee member in the creation of the Chicago Cultural Alliance, a Chicagoland partnership of 20 ethnic museums and cultural institutions. He has also initiated contacts with cultural and government institutions in Poland that have resulted in several beneficial exchanges and collaborations.
Krystyna Grell - Librarian
Krystyna Grell earned a Master’s Degree from the Department of Philology, with a major in Library Science and Scientific Information, at Wroclaw University, Poland. She has experience working in Polish libraries and at the Department of Culture and Art of the Governor’s State Office in Legnica, Poland. Ms Grell received the award for Meritorious Service to Polish Culture from the Minister of Culture and Arts of the Republic of Poland. After her arrival in the United States, Ms Grell initially volunteered at the Museum and several Chicago Public libraries. As of 2004, she is a staff Librarian at The Polish Museum of America Library. She is also a co-organizer of many activities and cultural events that take place at the Museum.
Małgorzata Kot – Head Librarian
Malgorzata Kot completed her education in Poland, and received a Master's Degree in Polish Philology from the Jan Kochanowski Pedagogical University (Swietokrzyska Academy) in Kielce, Poland. In 1995, she joined the staff at the Museum as the Head Librarian. Mrs. Kot’s chief responsibilities include oversight and maintenance of the permanent book and media collection; cataloging acquisitions; processing donations; keeping inventories; and updating records. She is the editor of and a contributor to the Guide to the History and Collections of The Polish Museum of America published in 2003. She has several other publications to her credit and frequently writes articles for the Polish press. Mrs. Kot often represents the Museum on ethnic and local television and radio broadcasts.
Richard Kujawa – Operations Manager
Richard Kujawa joined the Museum staff in 1998. In many ways, this was a homecoming since Mr. Kujawa’s ancestors were deeply engaged with the PRCUA, almost from the founding of the institution. After a long first career in industry and business, he has embarked on this second career in the non-profit sector. His duties include scheduling and conducting tours, scheduling programs and special events, overseeing the programs calendar, routine Museum maintenance, supervising installations and repairs, and managing the Museum’s Website. In addition he gives a specially developed lecture on Polish immigration to Chicago. Mr. Kujawa has a B.S. degree, 1971, in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana.
Leonard Kurdek – Museum Assistant
Leonard Kurdek commenced his activities at the Museum as a volunteer in July, 2000, and was honored as the Volunteer of the Year in 2003 for his outstanding contributions. Now on staff, he has prepared an inventory of the Museum's Polonica book catalogs eventually to be posted online. Leonard’s other duties are the review and organization of the Museum's music collection, which comprises sheet music, records, scores, player piano rolls, promotional material, etc. He has a B.A. in History from Loyola University Chicago.
Agnieszka Migiel – Library Assistant
Agnieszka Migiel joined the Museum as an Assistant Librarian in 2003. A Chicago native, she is currently a fourth year student at Loyola University, pursuing a B.B.A. in International Business. She completed her primary and secondary education in the Polish language at Holy Trinity Polish School in Chicago.
Ms Migiel’s responsibilities at the Museum include: maintaining the Library’s book collection; translating material for PMA publications; undertaking translations for Museum patrons (letters, documents, articles, etc.); research; providing statistical analysis for the Library; book-keeping. Ms Migiel also assists with preparations for special events at the Museum and occasionally serves a tour guide.
Halina Misterka - Archivist
Halina Misterka completed her education in Poland where she was a schoolteacher for 10 years. Since coming to the United States, she has worked with children in Polish Saturday schools. Polish folk dance and song have long been her passion and she is Artistic Director and Choreographer of the Polish Song and Dance Ensemble Lajkonik. Since 2000 Mrs. Misterka is the Archivist at the Museum, organizing and overseeing the vast and varied collection of documents and valuable papers.
Monika Nowak – Graphic Art Collection Curator
Monika Nowak received her Master’s Degree in Art History from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. In 2007, she completed her certificate of Museum Studies at Northwestern University.
Previously, Ms Nowak was a curator of exhibitions and a catalogue editor at the International Print Triennial Society in Krakow. She has collaborated with Professor Gerald Cerny from the U.S. in selecting prints by Polish artists for the permanent collection at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Ms Nowak resides in Chicago since 1999. She often writes articles for the Polish press. In the past, she was the curator of a Polish prints exhibition and worked for an art gallery. Currently Ms Nowak is preparing a large exhibition of prints from the permanent collection of the Polish Museum, which will be presented at two museum venues in Poland in 2009. Her responsibilities at the Museum are varied: She is a tour guide; she is in charge of the collection of art works on paper; and she frequently serves as an exhibition curator.
Julita Siegel – Photo Collection Registrar (Contract Position)
Julita Siegel came to Chicago after graduating in from the University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznan, Poland, with a Masters Degree in Art History. Her work at the Museum consists of cataloging and digitizing documentary photographs in the permanent collection. These responsibilities combine Mrs. Siegel’s love of photography and art with an interest and respect for the past, as well as for Polish culture and heritage. She also serves as graphic designer for many of the Museum’s invitations, cards, bookmarks, and mailers. She oversees requests for reproduction of material from the collections and photographs objects in the collections.
As a photographer, her work appears in many publications, among them American Photo Magazine, Photographer’s Forum, Best of College Photography, and the 2007 book, Polish Chicago: Our History, Our Recipes, a project she coordinated with the publisher.
Mrs. Siegel excels in graphic design and her biggest achievement in this field to date is receipt of the Grand Prix in the Ex Libris (book plate) international competition organized by the Semper Polonia Foundation in Warsaw, Poland. Mrs. Sigel continues her education in photography and graphic design. She freelances as a professional photographer, often as a team with her husband Bart.
Anna Wolan studied political studies at Rzeszów University in Poland. She came to the United States in 2004 and became a volunteer at the Polish Museum of America Library. Since December 2004 she has been employed as a guide at the Museum. In 2005 she joined the staff of Polish Roman Catholic Union of America.
The Polish Museum of America volunteers
Volunteers are a vital part of our organization and we appreciate all of them. Only our regularly scheduled volunteers are listed here. There are over one hundred volunteers who come in and help at various times through out the year. Thank you and God Bless You!
Mary Jane Robles
Mary Jane Robles, a volunteer since 1997, is the Museum Gift Shop Manager and handles sales, supervises the inventory, orders merchandise, and organizes the annual Christmas Gift Show, as well as the Amber and Crystal Sale. She also serves as secretary to the Resident Vice-President of the PRCUA, generously donating her time for shop duties. Ms Robles also assists during Museum events, often volunteering for the task of clean up afterwards, an effort that is very much appreciated.
Mark P. Sorbi
Mark P. Sorbi was honored as the Volunteer of the Year in 2007 for his outstanding efforts. One of his projects was the restoration of the bust of Father Barzynski, founder of the PRCUA, which is now on display in the elevator lobby. Mr. Sorbi possess extensive knowledge on the history of the collection and the objects in the collection. He installs objects for exhibition throughout the Museum galleries. As an employee of PRCUA in the Secretary-Treasurer's Office, Mr. Sorbi is conveniently on hand to assist with displays or queries regarding the collection. He also participates in other community organizations: Polish Military History Society of America (President), Silent Film Society of Chicago (Treasurer/ Membership Chairman) and the Copernicus Foundation (Member/ Volunteer).