After the most recent WOW event, the 340 OTP participants’ descriptions included great, memorable, historical, welcoming, terrific, amazing, spectacular, etc.So why were these descriptions used? To begin with, we were graciously greeted by the Chairman of the Board, Joseph A. Drobot, Jr. While meeting near the Symbol of Poland Reborn, a stained glass window from the 1939 World’s Fair which tells the story of Poland’s accomplishments between the World Wars, he emphasized the importance of the immigrant.
From this point, Basia, our tour guide,”a little ball of energy full of lively knowledge and expertise,” engrossed us with stories about history and art. We learned of Kosciuszko (1746-1817), a Polish hero in our Revolutionary War that fought with George Washington to defend West Point. In his will which was to be executed by Thomas Jefferson, he left his estate to support the freedom of slaves and their education. Jefferson, however, did not follow his will as directed.
We viewed the Royal Sleigh (1703), a sea creature carved from a single piece of wood, that was gifted to Princess Maria, wife of the French King Louis XV that was donated to the museum by the MacArthur Foundation. The Art Gallery was filled with 1939 World’s Fair Polish paintings and sculptures. We were drawn to a beautifully executed painting of Polish children wearing signs requiring them to speak German and to learn the catechism in German. There was a revolt by the Poles that did not end well for them.
The Paderewski Room, dedicated to the great musician, statesman and humanitarian, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, included items as significant as the feather gold pen he used to sign the Versailles Treaty of 1919 as well as other personal artifacts and historical documents.
We learned of Voytek, the Soldier Bear… a real story about a bear that served in the Polish army. These were just some of the highlights before our “Dee-lish” Kasia Polish buffet filled with pierogis, stuffed cabbage, sausage and sauerkraut, chicken piccata, potato pancakes, beet salad, cucumber, tomato, feta salad, blintzes, and kolaczki.
Concluding with a visit to the “awesome” mother church, St. Stanislaus Kostka, reinforced all the significant Polish contributions and made it a most memorable WOW day as described by the participants. These are just some of the highlights of a treasure not to be missed. The experience would not have been as wonderful without the efforts of Malgorzata Kot, Managing Director of the Polish Museum and Elizabeth Jakabowicz of Kasia’s Deli and the enthusiasm of the WOW participants. More pictures can be found here.