16 mm Postcards: Home Movies of American Jewish Visitors to 1930s Poland Opens Aug. 29 at YU Museum

Aug 18, 2010 — The richly textured and complex world of pre-WWII Poland is revealed in a rare and fascinating exhibition that features the amateur films of Polish-American Jews who returned home to visit their families, friends, and old communities during the 1920s and ’30s.

From August 29, 2010 through January 2, 2011, visitors to the Yeshiva University Museum can gain a vivid and poignant glimpse into this long-gone world through 16 mm Postcards: Home Movies of American Jewish Visitors to 1930s Poland, a multi-media exhibition developed in collaboration with the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and in cooperation with the Center for Jewish History.

The images in 16 mm Postcards challenge collective and personal memory by giving movement and richer character to the people and places most often recalled through still photos and hazy recollection.

Preview versions of the films are available on the museum’s YouTube channel.

16 mm Postcards brings to life the landscape and people in Poland through the amateur movies of immigrant American Jews who traveled back to the alte heym – the old home – to visit their families, friends and former communities in the 1920s and 1930s. Intended to be viewed by family and fellow landsmen [friends from the Old Country], these films reach across the ocean of time to offer a rare, intimate and—literally—moving picture of vanished Jewish families, towns and society in pre-World War II Poland.

“This stirring exhibition ushers the museum visitor into an experience that merges history, memory, art and contemplation of the concept of home,” said Dr. Jacob Wisse, director of the Yeshiva University Museum.

16 mm Postcards is deeply evocative and sometimes jarring, added Dr. Wisse. “The exhibition takes the visitor on a journey with the filmmakers, who were themselves visiting a place at once familiar yet also foreign. Most poignantly, the exhibition reveals a lively, normal and occasionally light-hearted image of pre-War Poland so completely at odds with its subsequent history and with what the collective visual record has imprinted on our consciousness.”

16 mm Postcards: Home Movies of American Jewish Visitors to 1930s Poland opens to the public on August 29th. Guided tours of the exhibition are available upon request.

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