Polish Cultural Institute, Inc. and Museum (Winona, Minnesota)
Posted August 5, 2015on:
The Polish Cultural Institute and Museum celebrates Winona’s Kashubian heritage and the prominent role Kashubian Poles and their descendants have played in Winona’s history and culture since the mid 1800’s.
The museum is located in the original headquarters of the Laird-Norton Lumber Company, a large lumber mill that operated during Winona’s heyday as a lumber milling town. Many immigrants were employed in the lumber industry.
Notable exhibits include wedding dresses and photos, household tools, lumber and farming tools, household objects,musical instruments, photos, religious artifacts and contemporary history artifacts.
Grants and other funding have provided opportunities to translate, digitize and archive archives and documents. A portion of the web site is in Polish Language translation services are provided by a young man who immigrated to Winona from Poland as a nine year-old.
The museum’s web site has biographical information on many deceased and living Winonans of Polish, links to genealogy sites, a list of pictures and stories related to Winona landmarks with Polish and Kashubian connections. The original (Washington) Kosciuszko School, the Hot Fish Shop and the Basilica of Saint Stanislaus Kostka are examples of significant local structures represented.
The Heritage and Community center has a large pictorial timeline display reflecting significant events and people (including contemporaries.) A large sign showing language differences in English, Polish and Kashubian spellings caught my eye. The adjacent heritage house is furnished with artifacts representing Polish culture and used as a guest house.
The impressive museum is maintained by people who are passionate about preserving their heritage. Notable exhibits include wedding dresses, wedding photos, household tools, lumber and farming tools, vehicles, musical instruments, photos, religious artifacts and contemporary history artifacts. Many Winonans and residents of Western Wisconsin where Kashubians also settled maintain ties with Winona’s sister city Bytow. What’s in your backyard?