The Jewish Museum in Berlin is a very impressive museum. The building itself, designed by the famous American architect Daniel Libeskind, is something worth seeing. The permanent exhibition is interesting, some parts of it very impressive, even overwhelming. And as if that’s not enough, they also present excellent special (changing) exhibitions.
The museum presents the history of the Jewish life in Berlin since 1848. It is presented on three axes: Axis of Continuity, which connects the Old Building with the main staircase that leads up to the exhibition levels; Axis of Emigration, which leads outside to the Garden of Exile; and Axis of the Holocaust, which ends at the Holocaust Tower.
The old building, The Collegienhaus, through which you enter the museum, is a baroque building built in 1735 and rebuilt in the 60s after being destroyed in the war. It used to serve as a court house under Friedrich Wilhelm I. Nowadays it contains temporary exhibition rooms, event rooms, the Museum shop and Liebermann’s restaurant.
The building by Daniel Libeskind was finished in 1999, and opened in 2001. The two-story, three-winged house is built around a square courtyard to which a glass roof designed by Libeskind was added in 2007.
Libeskind said about this project: “The official name of the project is ‘Jewish Museum’ but I have named it ‘Between the Lines’ because for me it is about two lines of thinking, organization and relationship. One is a straight line, but broken into many fragments, the other is a tortuous line, but continuing indefinitely”.
Besides the exhibitions and the axes, the museum contains voids. The floor of one of them is covered by a steel sculpture created by the Israeli artist Menashe Kadishman, which is basically a collection of faces, named “Shalechet” (Fallen Leaves). When you go down there, you can walk on them – a very intense experience. The voids, according to Libeskind, refer to “that which can never be exhibited when it comes to Jewish Berlin history: humanity reduced to ashes”.
When we were in Berlin in 2006, there was a very good exhibition about Freud and psychoanalysis, which I just had to see, and enjoyed tremendously.
The current special exhibition, which opened yesterday and runs until 24 February 2008, is called “Dateline: Israel” (photography and video art) which, according to the website of the museum, “offers a glance at the everyday life of people in an atmosphere of political tensions and constant imperilment”. That is, in Israel. It includes more than 20 artists, Israelis and non Israelis. As it’s not likely I will be able to catch it, I just hope it is not too self-righteous, and a little more relevant than it sounds.
There is also a Hanukka Market in the new Glass courtyard, which will be there until the end of December, although the holiday itself ended last week. Be aware of all the deep fried and very fattening “Hanukka delicacies”, mainly the Sufganiot. They can be pretty evil…
The market is open from 2 to 31 December, daily from midday to 6 pm (closed on 24 December). Admission is free, except of course from what you buy…
Other Hannuka events in the market, running through December are Jazz on Thursdays and Musical Sundays.
Address: Lindenstrasse 9-14
Tel: +49 30 2599 3410 Fax: +49 30 2599 3412
Open daily from 10 to 8, Mondays from 10 to 10.
(closed: 9/13+14, 9/22, 12/24)
Special exhibition: Old Building, 1st level, admission: 4 euros, reduced rate 2 euros