Scrapbookpages Blog

May 7, 2013

Weird Jewish Museum in Berlin gets even weirder…

"Jew in a Box" in the Jewish Museum in Berlin

“Jew in a Box” in the Jewish Museum in Berlin

The sign under the glass box, where a Jew sits in the Jewish Museum in Berlin, says “Gibt es noch Juden in Deutschland?” (Are there still Jews in Germany?)

This quote is from a news article which you can read in full here:

An interactive ‘Jew in a Box’ display at the Jewish Museum in Berlin has attracted scathing criticism from prominent Jewish figures and anti-Semitic comments from visitors.

Last month American Bill Glucroft, 27, climbed into a glass box at the museum, which chronicles Jewish life in the capital and broader Germany, with the caption beneath it reading: “Are there still Jews in Germany?”

Since then, other Jewish people have taken turns to sit in the box.

“A lot of our visitors don’t know any Jews and have questions they want to ask,” said museum official Tina Luedecke.

“With this exhibition we offer an opportunity for those people to know more about Jews and Jewish life.”

But since the start of the exhibit, ‘The Whole Truth, everything you wanted to know about Jews’, it has drawn criticism within the Jewish community.

Before you criticize this weird exhibition, you have to see it in context—with the rest of the Museum, which was deliberately set up to throw people off balance.

The photo below shows the outside of the Museum building, which was designed by Jewish architect Daniel Libeskind.

Exterior of Jewish Museum in Berlin

Exterior of Jewish Museum in Berlin

The design of the Jewish Museum in Berlin is supposed to represent a deconstructed Star of David, as though it has been hit by lightning. The only windows in the museum are the angular slits that you see on the sides of the building. The surface of the building is covered with polished metal facing. There is no door into the exhibits; entry is through a tunnel from the Baroque building next door, which is shown in the photo below.

Entrance to the Jewish Museum in Berlin is through this Baroque building next door

Entrance to the Jewish Museum in Berlin is through this Baroque building next door

Entry to the Jewish Museum is through the Baroque building, shown in the photo above, which was formerly Berlin’s Superior court. The Jewish Museum was originally an annex of the Berlin Museum in the former court building, which is called the Kolliegenhaus. The Berlin Museum was moved back to its original home, and the Jewish Museum opened here as a separate museum in October 2001.

Two contrasting buildings with the Jewish Museum on the right

Sign says “Jewish Museum Berlin”

The two contrasting buildings in the photo above show the difference between the German people and the Jews in Germany.  Be prepared to leave the normal world behind, as you go through a tunnel to get to the Jewish Museum next door to a traditional German building.

Aerial view shows the Jewish Museum on the left, next door to a traditional German building

Aerial view shows the Jewish Museum on the left, next door to a traditional German building

The layout of the Jewish Museum in Berlin

The layout of the Jewish Museum in Berlin

There are no windows in the Jewish Museum building, but narrow slits in the sides of the building allow in some light, which illuminate two of the corridors, as shown in the model above. The whole building is designed to be scary, like a house of horrors. There are no guided tours and visitors may walk about freely, although when I was there in 2001, there were attendants on duty, ready to answer any questions.

The Axis of Evil and the Axis of Continuity

The Axis of Exile and the Axis of Continuity

The photo above shows two of the corridors in the Jewish Museum.  This is where the “axis of Continuity” intersects with the “axis of Exile.” The “axis of Exile,” which represents the deportation of the German Jews by the Nazis, leads outside to a garden, which consists of 49 stone columns with trees planted on top of the columns.  (You can’t get any weirder than that.)

Garden outside Jewish Museum has stone columns planted with trees

Garden outside Jewish Museum has stone columns planted with trees on top

Trees growing out of columns in the garden outside the Jewish Museum

Trees growing out of columns in the garden outside the Jewish Museum — can anything be weirder than that?

The “axis of Continuity” leads to the exhibition space. Together, the three corridors in the Museum represent the three important elements of the Jewish experience, according to the museum designer.

The photos below show the interior of one of the empty towers.

Memory Void tower in the Jewish Museum in Berlin

Memory Void Tower in the Jewish Museum in Berlin

Fallen leaves in the Memory Void Tower

Fallen leaves in the Memory Void Tower

Close-up of Fallen Leaves in the Memory Void Tower

Close-up of Fallen Leaves in the Memory Void Tower