[wpforms id="1589"]
[wpforms id="2370"]


A Portal to Gwoździec: The Cove

By Handshouse Studio

Published Apr 21, 2023



This Curation is part of A Portal to Gwoździec.

Explore the full collection

A Portal to Gwoździec: The Cove

Above: (1 min 14 sec) Handshouse Gwoździec Re!construction project leaders and students painting the cove panels at White Stork Synagogue in Wroclaw, Poland, 2012. Courtesy of Handshouse Studio.


Project Overview:

Through the MAKING/HISTORY Wooden Synagogue Project, Handshouse produced an extensive collection of historical material research that is vital to the continued work of recovering lost heritage. We have also established a powerful educational model for learning-by-doing through workshops that collaboratively remake lost historical objects, reawakening whole worlds of both tangible and intangible cultural heritage. The calls for access to our research and continued interest in our unique hands-on educational approach lead us to explore new ways to expand our capacity to share our process and resources.

Through the support of Mass Humanities grant funding, and collaboration with the POLIN Museum, we are starting the next chapter of the MAKING/HISTORY: Wooden Synagogue Project, creating A Portal to Gwoździec: a window illuminating the history of wooden synagogues for a wider public.


The Cove

The Gwoździec Synagogue cove is the long horizontal curved band of a floral motif that surrounds the entire base of the ceiling painting, creating a connection between the cupola ceiling with the four walls of the synagogue. It consists of four sections–north, south, east, and west, with repeating patterns of vine and flowers and a lower band which is similar to textile design patterns. Each side is over 30 feet and the whole cove consists of over 800 flowers and fruits, four large palm fans in each corner, and four arabesques with a medallion of Hebrew text.

The Makers

Above: Group picture of the 2012 Gwoździec Cove Painting Workshop at The White Stork Synagogue, Sejny, Poland. The ceiling painting workshops took place in 8 cities throughout Poland in existing masonry synagogues.


Click here to return to the homepage of the digital exhibit on Kolture.


Handshouse Studio is a non-profit, educational organization that works to illuminate history, understand science, and perpetuate the arts.


What is a replica?

Is the Handshouse Studio reconstruction of the Gwoździec synagogue a replica? What is the difference between a replica and a reconstruction?

What is the meaning of repair?

If the original is gone, and there is nothing to be restored, is a reconstruction a restoration? How can rebuilding still be an act of repair?

If it is not original, is it an authentic object?

As Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett Ronald S. Lauder Chief Curator, Core Exhibition of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, asks “What constitutes an “original” or “actual” or “authentic” object?”

Want more?

Get curated JewishArts.org content in your inbox

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.