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Creating a museum which is going to present one nation's history is an extremely difficult undertaking in modern times. This is primarily so because history is not a simple academic subject. It is the story of who we are and about our own identity. Yet what makes an identity in the modern world? We are Poles, but also Europeans or citizens of the world. We are only one click away from far-off lands. Every day we are consumers of goods produced from Tokyo to Los Angeles. We have different views on life, different tastes. Yet when discussing the republic of nobles, disputing the Warsaw Rising of 1944 or talking about Solidarity we catch on instantly.

Is it worth, however, celebrating one's own heritage and identity in today's world? Is this not a trace of some tribal past? I do not believe it is. I am convinced that history of any nation is not owned by that nation alone. I believe that national cultures should not be obstacles, but a means for communication and understanding. Therefore, it may well be that the history of the Polish and Lithuanian commonwealth, the history of Solidarity or that of the Polish and German conflict and reunion will all be a lesson not only for us, Poles.

Why is it then that when it comes to presenting national history we invite architects from all over the world to this architectural competition? Why not limiting participation to those who know this history so well - the Polish? There seem to be at least three reasons for doing so. Firstly, it so happened in our history before that magnificent monuments of national architecture were created by Italians, the Dutch or the Swiss. It is enough to mention the old residence of Polish kings - the Wawel, the Pałac Krasińskich in Warsaw - one of the grandest 18th-century magnate residences, or the Teatr Wielki - the National Opera house. Secondly, an outsider may see certain matters about us more clearly and without prejudice. Thirdly, even if a Pole wins, we would like this to be the best possible execution which is going to be selected from among the best studios in the world in a competition.

I am, therefore, kindly inviting you to participate in our competition. I believe that it presents a great opportunity to create an outstanding piece of architecture and will help make the Museum mission clearer.

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