News / The Sybir Memorial Museum, the 2024 winner of the CoE Museum Prize was awarded during a special ceremony in Strasbourg. /

At a special ceremony that took place on 16 April 2024 in Strasbourg, Hotel de Ville, the Sybir Memorial Museum (Białystok, Poland) was awarded with the 2024 Council of Europe Museum Prize and symbolically received its trophy. The museum was selected by the Culture Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on 5 December 2023. 

Among the speakers and participants of the ceremony were Mr. Theodoros Rousopoulos, President of the PACE, Mr. Salem Drici, City Councillor of the City of Strasbourg, Mr. Joan Roca i Albert, Chairperson of the European Museum Forum, as well as the Polish delegation, which included Mr. Wojciech Śleszyński, Director of the Sybir Memorial Museum, along with the Deputy Mayor of Białystok, Mr. Rafał Rudnicki, and Member of Parliament Mr. Krzysztof Truskolaski.

Prior to the ceremony on the same day, the Committee on Culture, Science, Education, and Media convened a public hearing at the Palais de l’Europe. The session featured Mr. Constantinos Efstathiou (Cyprus, SOC), Committee representative for the Museum Prize of the Council of Europe, along with the Director of the Sybir Memorial Museum and the Chairperson of the EMF.

Receiving the prize from PACE President, Mr Theodoros Rousopoulos, the Director of the Sybir Memorial Museum, Prof. Wojciech Śleszyński said: “Although the Sybir Memorial Museum is a Polish museum, it presents the history of all Eastern Europe, experienced by the criminal totalitarian system, which was communism. This is not only Polish memory, but the heritage of the entire Europe. We need to do whatever it takes to maintain this memory. This will protect the next generations from repeating this experience."

He concluded by saying that "The Council of Europe Museum Award is not only a confirmation of the professional work of the Sybir Memorial Museum, but also an expression of trust in our work. It motivates us to take further steps and do our best to take care of memory and history."

During his speech, Joan Roca i Albert, the Chairperson of the European Museum Forum, which has organized the prize selection procedure and jury since 1977, stated: "The interaction among the Council of Europe, the European Museum Forum, and the continent’s network of museums in building a freer and safer world holds great value. The fight for dignity and freedom can play a crucial role in defending human rights, both in museums and in schools. Hence, the importance of the Council of Europe Museum Prize within the EMYA Awards, which are the oldest and most prestigious awards for museums across the continent and are decided according to the result of the intense work carried out by the EMYA judges."

Following this, he elaborated: The Sybir Memorial Museum showcases something that must not be forgotten and that we must strive to avoid: the forced displacement of thousands of people, profoundly altering their lives, especially in the context of war, where many even lose their lives. In the battle against injustice, violence, forced migrations, and warfare, museums can play a crucial role in depicting their consequences and alleviating the pain they cause. This exemplifies the mission of the Sybir Memorial Museum."

Being part of the European Museum of the Year Award scheme, the Council of Europe Museum Prize has been awarded annually by the Parliamentary Assembly since 1977. It aims to highlight Europe’s diverse cultural heritage and the interplay between local and European identities.

Museum Prize page
The Sybir Memorial Museum on the EMF website
The Sybir Memorial Museum website
Previous winners of the CoE Museum Prize

Abdesslam Mirdass / CoE
Abdesslam Mirdass / CoE