Poland Polin Jewish Museum

People are seen in front of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. A long stalemate over the future independence of the landmark Jewish history museum is building toward a crucial turning point after the former director — who won a competition for a second term but whom Poland's populist government refuses to reinstate — offered to renounce the job.(AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A stalemate over the future of Warsaw’s landmark Jewish history museum moved closer to a resolution on Wednesday after the former director — who won a competition for a second term but whom Poland’s populist government refused to reinstate — offered to stand aside.

The government had made clear that it would never allow Dariusz Stola, director of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews from 2014-2019, to resume his leadership at the acclaimed institution.

That prompted museum Board members, donors and other partners to agree informally on Wednesday to support Stola’s former deputy and now acting director, Zygmunt Stepinski, as his replacement. They felt the choice would be acceptable to the government and still allow the institution to maintain its independence.

That step came after Stola announced Tuesday that he was giving up on being director of the museum to prevent any further damage.

The impasse over the leadership of the museum has dragged on for nearly a year, creating anxieties about the future of one of the world’s most prominent Jewish museums.

Today its troubles are a sign of how much has changed under a populist government willing to flout democratic norms — in this case its obligation to abide by the results of the competition that Stola won — and snub international partners.

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