A Tale of Two Museums
Ester Rachel Kaminska Theater Museum Collection

The Esther-Rachel Kaminska Yiddish Theater Museum (Warsaw 1926)

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Text to the audio is available below the gallery.


In 1926,  Ida Kaminska and Zygmunt Turkov, both prominent actors and directors of Poland’s Yiddish literary theater opened a museum in the residential apartment of Ida’s mother, Esther Rokhl Kaminska at Obozhna 11 in Warsaw.  Only a few weeks earlier, Esther Rokhl Kaminska had tragically succumbed to cancer at the age of 55. Ida and Zygmunt had rushed to pull together an exhibition of Esther-Rachel’s possessions that would tell the story of her legendary rise from shtetl performer with little formal training to an actor of international stature. By the end of the shloshim, the period during which the living may accomplish good deeds and learning to elevate the stature of the dead before her final judgment, their museum was organized and a notice was published in the newspaper to publicize its open doors. Entrance was free. This collection of materials, consisting of photographs, costumes, theater posters, and newspaper reviews, would become the kernel of a massive collection of over a hundred feet of Yiddish-theater related material, that would mirror the fascinating life of the Yiddish theater its materials capture. 

Click through the gallery to learn about the growth of this collection. Learn about the stories it contains and the tumultuous story of the collection itself.

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