An austere Nordic design in glass and limestone was chosen Thursday for Warsaw's new Jewish museum -- a rectangular building with a jagged passageway.

The Museum of the History of Polish Jews, due to open in 2008, will depict Jewish life, which flourished for eight centuries in Poland before it was virtually wiped out under Nazi occupation.

Finnish architects Rainer Mahlamaki and Ilmari Lahdelma's firm beat out better-known competitors such as Daniel Libeskind, designer of Berlin's landmark Jewish Museum, and Peter Eisenman, designer of the Berlin Holocaust memorial.

Bohdan Paczowski, head of the panel that picked the design, said his group favored the winning project from the beginning because of the way it "treated very serious matters with moderation."

The designers "had a very clear vision and have shown sensitivity, drama and reticence," said Paczowski, an architect himself.

He said the limestone passageway stands as a metaphor for "the passage of the Jewish community through history."

"The purpose is to prepare the guests for the silence," Mahlamaki and Lahdelma wrote in their proposal.

The museum will be built in a park in downtown Warsaw next to a monument to the victims of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising against the Nazis. Although it will devote space to the Holocaust, it will focus more broadly on the Jewish community's history in Poland over the centuries.

Visitors discuss a model of the winning design of Warsaw's new Jewish museum, to open in 2008.