Published  28/09/2001

Jewish Museum in Berlin opens Exhibition

Jewish Museum in Berlin opens exhibition

The Jewish Museum in Berlin has at last formally revealed its new, permanent exhibition. The concept for this initiated with ideas developed by Shaike Weinberg, the Founding Director of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. It is almost 63 years since Berlin’s first Jewish Museum, in Oranienburger Strasse, was closed down by the Gestapo. The Berlin city authorities have moved mountains, supporting the project with the Federal Government of Germany (before and after unification) playing a pivotal role in getting the project under way and then firmly established.

The Museum opened with a series of day-by-day events. After a festive Gala opening on 9 September, and a Day of Remembrance on 10 September, a public opening and students’ day on 11 September was followed by a special family-geared week ending on l6 September.

Munich-based exhibition designers Petra Winderoll and Klaus Wurth developed the architectural framework for the artefacts and the multimedia facilities in the permanent exhibition. They have succeeded in developing an overall design which actually recognises and incorporates elements of the design by the architect Daniel Libeskind, in such a way as to co-ordinate Libeskind’s idiom throughout. A key role has been to enable interactive encounters to proliferate between visitor and exhibition. The building, as was always characteristic of Libeskind’s design, demands an ingenious and perceptive reconciliation from such interactive installation schemes, but it looks as if this is not in question given the initial results as experienced at the launch. For example, for children, show-cases exist at their own height, and special, topological routes and paths are reserved purely for them.

Marion Meyer, the resident designer, has evolved a new logo for the museum. She took the zig-zag footprint of the Libeskind plan and combined it with the pomegranate, Israel being seen in the Old Testament as the land of ‘wine, fig trees and pomegranates’. The pomegranate is also a symbol of fertility and regeneration. The warm red tone of the fruit is joined in the colour coding, by red, grey and green tones that reflect Libeskind’s architecture, and the surrounding landscaped garden and exterior (by landscape architects Muller and Wehberg).

The approach for the permanent exhibition is wisely chronological. And the newly opened display simply represents an ongoing, developing scenario. Research is accumulating within the institution, and all exhibits are submitted to a thorough investigation and updating of provenance since scholarship is a prerequisite in the process. It seems that we can be confident that having achieved a superlative masterpiece in architecture, the Museum will become a model of its kind for all curators to experience and study as its public grows and its archive proliferates.

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