Celebrate with us!

Annual Apple Festival on Sunday, October 6, 10 – 4pm

Winona, MN – Some say the Polish language is considered to be one of the most difficult and hardest languages to learn – add a pinch of Kashubian to it, and your head is spinning! Language barriers aside, Polish-Kashubian heritage has permeated and impacted Winona’s region. On October 6th from 11 am to 4 pm, you will again have a hands-on opportunity to experience their unique culture – art, food, dance, music – during the Annual Polish Apple Fest on the grounds of the Polish Cultural Institute and Museum in Winona.

Have you ever had Ciszka (cheeSH-kah)? How about a bowl of Czarnina (char-nee-nah), Gołąbki (gaw-WOAMB-kee), Drop Noodle Soup, Grits Baloney, Pickled Northern or Turtle Stew? These specialties may sound weird to your ear; but the recipes have been cherished for generations, and you may understand why after having a complimentary taste.

For the somewhat-faint-of-heart, enjoy traditional Coffee Cakes, Pierogis, Kielbasa, Polish Beer, and everything apple from Fr. Paul Breza’s Orchard: bagged, juiced, or baked into pies, turnovers, and apple crisp with Cinnamon Ice Cream.

After getting your fill of Polish delicacies, get ready to cut-a-rug to the musical stylings of the Polish Jam Polka Band. They will be performing on Liberty Street from noon to 3 pm. In the event of rain, the Cynor Brothers will be playing in the Annex Museum. Lorraine Kilmartin of Handbasket Creations and a guild of weavers and spinners will be demonstrating their skills from noon to 4 pm on a loom recently gifted to the Museum.

Find unique gifts from area crafters or stop at the Museum’s Gift Shop for authentic souvenirs including Kashubian pottery from Poland. You can enjoy heritage exhibits, children’s games, silent auction and then, leave proudly saying SMACZNE JABŁKA (s-mach-neh yah-buw-kah) as if you were Polish Kashubian!

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the Polish Cultural Institute and Museum is focused to preserve, exhibit, interpret and disseminate the heritage of the Kashubian Polish Culture. The Polish Cultural Institute and Museum is a nonprofit 501c(3) organization in Winona, MN.

Throw us some Shade!

Last year we received a small grant that allowed us to have a study done of the lighting conditions in our various galleries. Good lighting not only makes visiting our Museum more enjoyable, it also protects our artifacts from damage.

The study was conducted by Richard Rummel of Rummel Design. Broadly speaking Richard made two major recommendations in his final report.

His first recommendation was that we upgrade our fixtures and lamps to more modern LEDs. LEDs are significantly more energy efficient than our current fluorescent fixtures and offer far greater flexibility. He suggested a number of stunning new fixtures to replace our rather utilitarian models.

Unfortunately implementing everything Richard recommended would quickly bust our rather modest budget. But while it was tough to justify replacing all our lighting fixtures, we did discover we could at least replace our current light bulbs with newer LEDs. Even better Xcel Energy, our electric utility, would give us a rebate for every bulb we replaced!

In his report Richard made specific recommendations on the amount and type of artificial light we should install. For example Richard indicated that the type of light recommended for most museums and galleries was “soft white” (or more accurately, light having a color temperature of 3000 degrees kelvin).

Our old bulbs where emitting the harsher “cool white” type of light (4100 degrees kelvin). This type of light works great on a factory floor. But it is not so nice if you are trying to appreciate the colors in a painting or the richness of a fine piece of woodwork.

Using his report we were able to find new LED bulbs that closely matched his specifications. Not only do these new bulbs save us money, they also make our Museum a warmer and more inviting place to visit. Come by and check them out!

Richard’s second recommendation is a bit more involved. Overall we need to do a much better job of controlling the level of daylight in our buildings. Currently the Museum does have UV blocking film on all our windows. But Richard pointed out that all light, not just UV rays, will damage our aging artifacts.

In addition while the large windows in our main building add considerable drama to our galleries, they are also a source of significant glare. Even on cloudy days they make viewing our displays a challenge for many of our visitors.

To deal with these problems we examined a number of different options. Boarding up our windows was by far the cheapest option, but most agreed that solution was probably a bit too extreme.

Ultimately we decided cellular shades seem to offer the best combination of performance and cost. These shades are relatively inexpensive, will effectively block the most intense sunlight and even insulate the room and make it less drafty in the winter. Overall they should cast a nice even glow over our rooms.

But while the bulbs we just bought will pay for themselves in about a year, new shades will cost a bit more. There are 11 large windows in our main gallery. The smallest window is 3 by 7 feet with the largest being 7 by 9 feet. Home Depot can outfit them all for about $4,000.

With the intense summer sun now beating down through these windows we were hoping to cover them as soon as possible. But our long winter has left our coffers a bit short and Apple Fest is still several months away.

So we are hoping our members can help us out by donating at our “Throw us some Shade” fund drive site. Please help keep our history from fading away. Every little bit will help.

Sat May 4 – Celebrate Polish Constitution Day

Winona, MN — On Saturday, May 4, 2019 celebrate with Winona’s Polish Cultural Institute & Museum 1791 Polish Constitution Day with a memorial service and banquet.


4pm @ St. Stanislaw’s Basilica: Memorial Service;
5:30pm @ Polish Museum Morrison Annex 363 E. 2nd St: Social Hour with an authentic traditional Polish dinner served at 6:00 p.m. Speaker: Dr Joseph (Banbenek) Hughes — the first fifty years of St. Stanislaw Parish.

Tickets are $15 and are available on a first come basis. They can be purchased at Midtown Foods, calling the Polish Museum or at the door.

“Bash the Poles til they have had enough…”

Otto von Bismarck

Tadeusz Kosciuszko helped Thomas Jefferson formulate our United States Constitution. He then went back to his homeland and helped formulate Poland’s Constitution which was approved by the Polish Parliament on May 3, 1791. Though this Constitution lasted only four years due to the aggression of Prussia, Russia and Austria and the resulting dissolution of Poland as a Sovereign Nation, it was never forgotten or ended.

Preserved in the hearts of those oppressed people for 123 years, it was re-awakened in 1918 as Poland regained its independence at the end of WWI.By this time Winona’s Polish immigrants had already left the oppression of their occupiers (they owned nothing, couldn’t, fish, hunt, or even pick firewood from the woods of their occupiers) and the nastiness of Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck: “Bash the Poles til they have had enough…it’s The only way for us to survive.” They arrived in the United States to work at menial
jobs, living close together for security and language. They celebrated their faith, their feasts their heroes, their new lives and actually began to thrive-all the while keeping the memory of their homeland in their minds and hearts.

Today, five and six generations later, Polish-Americans still respect and honor the people who generated not only their hair and eye color, but also their personalities and abilities; along with their traditions, faith and food.

Smaczne Jablka – Winona’s Tasty Apple Festival – Oct. 7, 2018

Free Admission!

When: Sunday, October 7th from 11 am to 4 pm

Where: 102 Liberty Street and at the Annex

The Annual Smaczne Jablka Festival celebrates Winona’s unique Polish Heritage.

Minnesota’s Polish culture comes to life in Winona …

Please Join Us!

  • Polish Food & Beer
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Children’s Activities
  • Polish Sheep Dogs
  • Great Food & Smiles!

Exchange Student Program, July 2017

Congratulations to Emily Boettger, Lauren Graf, and Julia Fravel for having completed the student exchange trip to Bytów, Poland, during July.  Our young students felt right at home because their hosts were so welcoming and caring. And what fun they had with their new friends visiting the local sights, walking everywhere, staying out late, and eating their fill of pierogis, gołabki, kiełbasy – even the vegetables tasted good!

This is the Museum student exchange program at its best: opening the door to the history and culture of Poland in the company of good friends. The students expressed their appreciation for the efforts of all those who made the trip possible, Fr. Breza for establishing the program, Ms. Joanna Malek for organizing everything in Bytów, and Mayor Sylka for hosting the program.

Opłatki Sunday – Dec. 3, 2017

Opłatki Sunday, 12:00 to 3:00

Come join us at the Polish Museum main building to celebrate with good fellowship the coming of Christmas. We will be singing Polish and American Christmas carols with the accompaniment of the newly-donated piano. All to be followed by a generous serving of snacks and treats.

Opłatki Sunday is named in honor of the popular Polish custom where the wafer of unleavened bread is shared in the home to ask forgiveness for our foibles and express our love for each other as we prepare for the coming of the Christ Child.

Smaczne Jabłka (Tasty Apple Festival) – Oct. 1, 2017

Smaczne Jabłka (Tasty Apple Festival) from 11:00 to 4:00 at the Museum.

Activities for the entire family. Greeters in authentic Polish folk costumes, live music including a polka band, international dancers from Winona to perform Polish folk dances at 2:00, wagon rides for the children, face painting, pumpkin painting, Polish cartoons on TV, Polish sheep dog

Food menu: pierogi, gołąbki (cabbage rolls) kiełbasa, grits and baloney, Polish rye bread, poppy seed coffee cake, pączki (jelly-filled donuts) and all things apple – apple pie, apple crisp, apple juice, fresh apples and more

Żywiec Polish beer

“Polish Power” businesses on display: Peerless Chain, Fastenal, Unique Communications, Miller Scrap truck display, antique fire truck, Ed Kamrowski’s antique tractors

Museum gift shop will be open featuring our latest shipment of authentic Polish pottery

Craft fair of local artisans with items for sale

Silent auction: silver tea set, Polish glassware, gift certificates, housewares, and many more

Chances for prizes totaling $2,000 cash value

Exchange Student Reception – Aug. 22, 2017

Julia Fravel, Lauren Graf, and Emily Roettger, Winona exchange students to our sister city of Bytow, Poland, have returned to Winona after a month-long visit. The exchange students were sponsored by the Polish Cultural Institute and Museum and hosted by families in Bytów.

This exchange is an annual summer event with students from Winona going to Poland in odd numbered years, and students from Poland coming to Winona in even numbered years. This is an opportunity for the students to experience the family life of local host families and to create lifelong friendships. These exchanges help in promoting and preserving our heritage.

There will be a reception for the students at the Polish Museum Annex, 363 East Second Street on Tuesday, August 22nd at 6:30 pm. The students will talk about their experiences in Poland, and an audience question and answer period will follow. The public is welcome to attend and learn more of the exchange program and Poland.

We continue to recruit students for future exchanges, For more information contact Father Paul Breza at (507) 454-3431.

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