Virtual Museum

Wirtualne Muzeum

Virtual Museum




    The Polish Museum of America, Chicago, USA

    The Polish Museum of America (PMA), founded in 1935 in Chicago, is one of the oldest and largest ethnic museums in the United States and an important Polish community center visited by Poles and Americans of Polish descent as well as guests from all across the world.

    This institution has the largest collections chronicling the Polish diaspora in the USA within three departments: Archives, Library, and Museum.


    The PMA Archives holds more than 420 processed collections and over 25 linear meters of additional documentation. This is the result of the work of archivists over the last two decades. The Archives is an open resource – new donations are accepted, new files are added, and new collections are created regularly.

    As a result of the continuous cataloging in recent years, several significant exhibitions have been created based on original documents within the PMA Archives, including: the 50th Anniversary of Poland’s Millennium of Christianity Chicagoland Observances (2016), Kosciuszko Bicentennial (2017), Polonia Goes to War: 100 Years of Poland’s Independence (2018), Polish Imagination: The World of Tomorrow, Polish Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair (2019), and the 100th Anniversary of the Polish Army Veterans Association of America, PAVA (2021).

    In 2020-2022, several short films focusing on PMA collections were recorded. They are richly illustrated with documents and images from the PMA Archives; all videos are available on the PMA YouTube channel.

    The Archives holds documentation on the activities of the Polish emigration in America and its contribution to regaining Poland’s independence. The most valuable collections include: the

    Tadeusz Kosciuszko Collection, purchased in 1945 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the museum; the Royal Collection, featuring letters written by Polish kings, the oldest signed by Sigismund II Augustus (1555), as well as documents and letters by: Sigismund III Vasa, John II Casimir Vasa, John III Sobieski, Stanisław Leszczyński, and Stanisław August Poniatowski; and the Ignacy Jan Paderewski Collection, presented in the I.J. Paderewski Room. The largest and most complete is the American Relief for Poland (ARP, 1938-1970) collection. The Archives collects the records of over one hundred different organizations, many of which are no longer in existence, as well as the private papers of interesting individuals, included among them, Mieczysław Haiman, the first museum curator and Polonia historian. Also included is a collection of 300 historic maps. The Photography Archives holds approximately 25,000 photographs, collected as donations from American and Canadian Polonia; approximately 8,000 are cataloged and digitized in Past Perfect: (https://polishmuseum.pastperfectonline.com/).


    The PMA Library (PMAL) has approximately 100,000 books within the main library, rare books, and Polonica collections. The PMAL’s extensive Music Collection includes sheet music and unique phonographic recordings in various formats, many published by the largest music labels in American Polonia. The PMAL also holds collections of Polonia periodicals and microfilms of many Chicago newspapers, including the two most prominent dailies: Dziennik Chicagoski and Dziennik Związkowy. PMAL is open four days a week and is utilized by the Polish community, researchers interested in the history of Poland and Polonia, and by Polish and American youth.

    The PMAL has the largest collection of books in Polish in the US and is systemically expanding its department of publications about Poland in English for the growing group of American readers. PMAL collection catalogs are available on the PMA website (https://www.polishmuseumofamerica.org/).


    PMA exhibition areas are spread over three floors and two stairwells. The largest collection consists of art and artifacts from the Polish Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. It includes: the monumental stained glass window designed by M. Jurgielewicz, Symbol of Poland Reborn; paintings, graphics, and sculptures by the most famous Polish artists; examples of craft and folk art; as well as many other exhibits that capture the image and imagination of interwar Poland. In addition to the New York World’s Fair collection, the PMA displays monumental paintings, including Pułaski at Savannah by St. Batowski; militaria; Kosciuszko memorabilia; and more.

    The I.J. Paderewski Room is dedicated to the famous Polish pianist, composer, and statesman. The exhibition presents the furnishings of his last residence in New York’s Buckingham Hotel, personal items, and the most valuable memorabilia, including the golden quill with which he signed the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.

    The PMA is located at 984 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, USA, and is open to the public on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from 11 am to 4 pm.

    photo Julita Siegel
    photo Julita Siegel
    Art Gallery - photo Julita Siegel
    Paderewski Room - photo Julita Siegel
    photo Julita Siegel
    Jan Henryk Rosen Polish Pavilion Official Poster For The New York World's Fair 1939
    Polonia Detail Of Symbol of Poland Reborn, stained glass designed by Mieczyslaw Jurgielewicz, 1939
    PRCUA building housing the Museum 1930s
    From left to right Juszczak, Zielinski, Wachtel
    Volunteers 2018


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