Is “Gazeta Wyborcza” misleading its readers? This is what the spokeswoman for the National Museum in Warsaw says

Luc Williams

“An article by Mr. Arkadiusz Gruszczyński titled 'In the National Museum in Warsaw as in the Bermuda Triangle. Nobody knows where there are over 100 works of art', published in 'Gazeta Wyborcza' on March 29, 2024, refers to content that may mislead readers,” MNW spokeswoman Monika Bala told PAP.

The author selectively used the explanations provided by the National Museum in Warsaw

“The statement 'There are 741,600 works of art in the National Museum in Warsaw' is false. There are 860,000 works of art in the National Museum in Warsaw – these data include all branches of the institution and the collections for which it is responsible.” According to the MNW, “The phrase 'No one knows when (monuments) went missing' is also false. The MNW's information on identifying the missing monuments is precise. Almost all the museum objects mentioned in the article disappeared several dozen years ago: in the 1970s and 1990s.” – said the spokeswoman of the facility.

“The statement 'you didn't have to wait long for the consequences of the Supreme Audit Office's report. The chief inventory taker of the museum resigned himself' is untrue. The departure of the chief inventory taker of the MNW was not related to the then audit of the Supreme Audit Office,” she explained.

The material includes a comment: “In the last decade, the museum has verified about a quarter of its collections – replies (the spokeswoman), although the picture after the Supreme Audit Office's inspection is completely different.” “The picture after the Supreme Audit Office's inspection is no different: in the years 2010–2022, 16 document inspections were carried out at the National Museum in Warsaw, and 193,000 out of over 860,000 objects were verified, i.e. about one fourth,” emphasized Monika Bala.

According to her, “the GW article refers to private conversations and a publicly unavailable audit report of the Supreme Audit Office, which readers cannot independently verify due to lack of access to sources. Therefore, a comprehensive presentation of facts, not assessments, seems important.” “However, the article often expresses only individual opinions, including statements about 'sweeping the issue of deficiencies under the carpet', which may be considered unfair. The author of the article also selectively used the explanations provided by the National Museum in Warsaw,” she added.

The new management of the National Museum in Warsaw has been operating for less than two months

The spokeswoman of the largest Polish museum institution recalled that the new management of the National Museum in Warsaw has been operating for less than two months and has been “operating transparently and in close communication with employees” from the beginning. According to her, the Supreme Audit Office's audit “helped diagnose problems in the management of the institution. However, in the context of the identified deficiencies in museum objects, it did not detect anything new – contrary to what the article suggests – and only repeated information that had been known for a long time.”

The Supreme Audit Office report identified issues that require urgent repair and are priority issues for the current management.

“The order on periodic control of compliance of registration documentation with the actual state of collections (so-called contrum), resulting from the regulation of the Minister of Culture of August 30, 2004 on the scope, forms and method of recording monuments in museums, is issued by the director of the museum” – emphasized the spokeswoman , adding at the same time that recent years cannot be considered statistically typical, as they were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and later a new collections registration and management system was implemented.

“Currently, the MNW team is preparing to carry out further audits, which will start this month. We will successively verify the registration documentation, also as part of extensive cleaning works after data migration to the new database system,” concluded Monika Bala.

author: Maciej Replewicz


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