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Our Mission

Handshouse Studio, a not-for-profit innovative educational organization, initiates adventurous hands-on projects as a way to explore history, understand science, and perpetuate the arts.

If you want to understand the world, you must look from many sides.
If you look from many sides you will see the three dimensions.
If you map the three dimensions, you will begin to understand.
Build it and you will learn.

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Rebuilding the Gwozdziec Synagogue 2013

Students, craftsmen and artists have all worked together to rebuild and assemble sections of the Gwoździec Synagogue, a magnificent 300 year-old wooden synagogue and symbol of the vitality of Jewish culture in Poland that was burned to the ground during the Nazi occupation.

Gwoździec Synagogue Project: Assembling & Installing the Roof, 2013

January 2013: On a gray winter morning, a sleepy crew gathered in a dusty basement of a construction site in Warsaw. Handshouse and the Timber Framers Guild were there for another impossible task: assembling the entire roof structure and installing the elaborately painted ceiling in just 19 days.

With the help of our Kickstarter project donors, our film crew was there to record this amazing event. As a way of thanking those who donated $1,000 or more, the crew drove pegs carrying those donors' names. Those pegs tie together the timber frame structure, the symbolic backbone of the Gwozdziec synagogue project.

Thanks to all of our donors. We are working on the film now and look forward to sharing it with you.

Museum of the History of Polish Jews: Media Event March 12, 2013

The Museum of the History of Polish Jews, due to open in 2014 in the heart of the city's former Jewish quarter, is under construction on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto.

The museum unveiled the reconstructed synagogue roof being built in collaboration with Handshouse, and the media were invited to view the elaborate frescoed ceiling on March 12, 2013.

Read the article.

Hear the Description

Laura Brown Explains the Project at the MassArt site!
To see the movie clip, click on the link in the blue balloon titled: Hear Professor Laura Brown describe it.

Thanks to all who contributed to our filmmaking adventure!

We needed to raise $55,000 to tell the story of this replication on film, and to send our film crew to Poland this summer. Thanks to all of you, we did it through donations on Kickstarter.

We have a website dedicated specifically to this project. Take me to the Making History website >> handshousestudio.org

Take me to our Facebook page >> www.facebook.com/gwozdziec

Watch how we replicated the intricate and beautiful vaulted ceiling mural. Read our blog!

Read our Blog!

In the News

  • Patriot Ledger, April 20, 2012: "The Art of Anthropology."

  • The Boston Globe and Boston.com, April 21, 2012: "MassArt Class Solves a Huge Challenge." Toys for Elephants is a new class at MassArt and Handshouse is part of the collaboration with the Buttonwood Zoo in New Bedford.

  • Tablet Magazine Feature

  • June 15, 2011 New York Times: "A 300-Year-Old Synagogue Comes Back to Life in Poland"

  • Museum of the History of Polish Jews: Synagogue Roof Almost finished.

  • Museum of the History of Polish Jews: Website

  • Timber Framers Guild is participating in workshops, and offers photos and text. Click here for the TFG Blog and a TFG newsletter article.

    Gwozdziec Synagogue Booklet Available

    A booklet detailing Handshouse's proposal to make the Gwozdziec Synagogue roof and ceiling for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

    Download it here in the form of a PDF.
    Or you may order it online.

  •   Other Projects    

    Bell Tower

    A team of carpenters from the US and UK built an 18th century timber framed Polish Bell Tower using traditional tools and techniques. Also, Mass Art faculty and students designed and constructed an iron cupola large enough to cast a 300-pound iron bell while using a traditional 19th century American bell mold. Read more.

    The Great Sphinx Project

    On a crisp fall day in October 2009, Handshouse Studio and Egyptologist Mark Lehner began a project to replicate the colossal stone nose of the Great Sphinx of Giza. This project marked another joint effort between Handshouse's Rick and Laura Brown and Dr. Lehner to investigate a historical mystery of ancient Egypt. In the process, they and Providence Pictures created a film on the Great Sphinx for WGBH's Nova, broadcast in 2010. Read more.


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