The Story of Jan and Antonina Żabiński Included in Rafał Wilk's Exhibition "And There Was Life”

Mateusz Szczepaniak, 17th March 2017
During the Holocaust, Jan and Antonina Żabiński hid, amongst the Warsaw Zoo's beetle collection, Szymon Tenenbaum, an outstanding entomologist and collector of insects. Today, that collection has been evoked by Rafał Wilk in his exhibition "Było sobie życie” ("And There Was Life"), presenting the story of people and animals, presented with an extreme situation as is a war. The exhibition can be viewed from 8th April 2017 at Monopol Galleria in Warsaw.

A highlight of this entire project is a film entitled Dom pod zwariowaną gwiazdą (The House Under the Wacky Star), presenting the story of the director of the Warsaw Zoo Jan Żabiński and his wife Antonina who, during World War II, hid Jews in their villa on the Zoo grounds. In recognition of their actions, in 1965, they were honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.


View the virtual exhibition "Dom pod Zwariowaną Gwiazdą”.


In preparing a video for the exhibition, Rafał Wilk used the story of Szymon Tenenbaum, an outstanding pre-War entomologist whom the Żabiński couple helped. Even though he, himself, decided to remain in the Warsaw Ghetto, thanks to him, his wife Eleonora survived as did his life's magnum opus - his collection of almost half a million insects.

According to the organisers, "The exhibition Było sobie życie will show the wartime fates of noth people and animals, victims and murderers, predators and prey, the instinct and the will to survive, as well as the ability of a group to help each other"

The exhibition can be viewed from 8th April 2017 at the Galeria Monopol in Warsaw, Al. Jerozolimskie 117.