The Polish Cultural Institute of Winona educates local residents, fellow Minnesotans, and visitors from across the country about the 150-year history of Polish immigrants - largely from the Kashubian region – radiating from Winona.
The Museum’s roots stretch back to 1979, when its focus was preserving the artifacts and stories that were quickly being lost. Over the past 41 years, the Museum has collected and preserved more than 8,000 items, including a Solidarity banner and shirt that make this site a destination for visitors from far and wide.
The Polish Cultural Institute also maintains Winona’s Kashubian Polish traditions through events and other initiatives. Smaczne Jablka (Tasty Apple Day) is celebrated annually along with recognition of other important holidays. Every summer, the Polish Museum send two or three Winona High School students to Winona’s sister city of Bytow, Poland for a month, and arranges for two or three Bytow high school students to spend a month in Winona. Volunteers from the Polish Museum perform concerts, make public appearances in the Winona community, and maintain internet resources dedicated to furthering an appreciation of Kashubian Polish culture.
The Museum has reached that point in its evolution in which it sees a need to not only display its collections, but also conceive a visitor experience that provides the context needed to understand key museum pieces. In this process, it seeks to also become self-sustaining, making a jump to professional staff while engaging a new generation of volunteers.