The Jewish Museum in Berlin is an extraordinary museum. Super modern with great displays and a wide range of objects to represent the German Jewish history from the earliest beginning to present time. Come along for a visit of this unusual Museum.
The Visit of the Jewish Museum
The visit of the Jewish Museum start in the old Baroque Building called the Kollegienhaus. From there you gain access to the Blitz building, the newest part of the building shaped like a thunderbolt.
You need to pass through what is called the axis, to gain access to the main exhibition. It’s a bit unsettling to arrive in such long corridors with no destination in sight. The axis display words and small windows of mostly antique objects with the description of who they belonged to. Those displays are intimate and the contrast with their cold surrounding, rather unreal.
The axis of Holocaust leads to the Holocaust Tower, a dark and a bit frightening room.
The axis of Exile leads to the Garden of Exile, an outdoor display of 49 monumental square columns, which you are invited to walk through. It’s a disturbing and disorienting experience. Hard to explain why.
Both the Holocaust tower and the Garden of Exile hide behind heavy doors.
Finally the axis of Continuity, the longest, leads to the giant staircase which will take you to the permanent exhibition.
The permanent exhibition
The permanent exhibition retraces the history of German Jews from the earliest communities (950-1500) to the present days while giving insight on objects, places and rituals in Judaism, the evolution of the religion, their daily lives, the roles of Jewish people in science, arts and economy… The exhibition is split into 13 different sections which all have a different atmosphere. Some are very interactive, some really fun, some a bit more formal, and some are very sad… Obviously the exhibition does have a section on the Holocaust.
At the end of the permanent exhibition, on the ground level, there is a huge empty room called the Memory Void. From there, you will probably hear intriguing noises which will lead you to the Fallen Leaves installation, by Israeli artist Menace Kadishman. These leaves are actually 10,000 screaming faces made of steel and laid on the ground. As you walk on them, their scream will fill the space of the Void and surround you in an disturbing way.
The artist dedicated his artwork to Jews killed during the Shoah and to all victims of violence and war.
The Architecture of the Jewish Museum
Brillant, incredible, surprising, spectacular!! You get the point, I loved the Blitz! Designed by architect Daniel Libeskind in 1999, the Blitz is as intriguing inside than it is outside. This is a very personal opinion. I know a lot of people hates it. Haters gonna hate…
I was slightly worried that the Museum would be solely focused on the Holocaust and the persecution of the Jews. It is absolutely not the case since the exhibition covers 2 thousand years of history. It is extremely informative, interactive, beautiful and fun for some parts. A museum totally worth at least half a day of your precious time.
The Technical Bits:
The official website: http://www.jmberlin.de
Check it out, it includes all the useful infos to plan your visit, an interesting introduction video, the plan of the permanent exhibition as well as info on the specials exhibitions, the café, the garden, the social events organized there….
It also shows aerial pictures of the museum which gives you a better understanding of the incredible architecture of the Blitz.
If you can’t wait to learn more, get this book: Daniel Libeskind: Jewish Museum Berlin
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