Alicja Knast, who has helmed the Silesian Museum in Katowice, Poland, since 2014, was dismissed by the Silesian Province board, the local governmental body which runs the museum with the Ministry of Culture, on January 29. Knast, a veteran arts administrator who helped establish both the Chopin Museum in Warsaw and the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews, was recently awarded a “Gloria Artis” medal from deputy of culture Jarosław Sellin in honor of her contributions to Poland’s cultural sector.
Artnet News reports that Knast was fired following an audit of the museum’s finances, which flagged a number of problems including “insufficient supervision” of the dismantling of exhibitions and failure to advertise rental rates for events spaces at the museum. Piotr Gliński, Poland’s culture minister, informed the Marshal’s Office of the Silesian Region, which carried out the audit, that the irregularities reported were not enough to warrant firing Knast, but he ultimately let the regional agency make the call.
According to the Polish media, the Marshal’s Office almost dismissed Knast once before. She was informed that she would be removed from her post in late 2019. Knast says that the threat was made when she opposed the regional governing body’s wishes to let the far right Law and Justice party to host an event at the museum. When asked to elaborate on her reasoning for refusing to rent to the party, she argued that it’s not appropriate to hold political events in a public museum. Knast eventually caved to pressure from local lawmakers and allowed the event to proceed.