Daniel Libeskind | The Jewish Museum Berlin – Part 2

Place: Berlin, Germany
Architectural design:
Studio Daniel Libeskind
Landscape architect:
Müller, Knippschild, Wehberg, Berlin
Text by Riccardo Bianchini, Inexhibit
Additional texts thanks to Jüdisches Museum, Berlin and Studio Daniel Libeskind
Images courtesy of Jüdisches Museum, Berlin and Studio Daniel Libeskind
For photo credits see image captions

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The Jewish Museum Berlin by Daniel Libeskind – Part 2

When looking at the museum plans, it becomes evident why Libeskind entitled his entry “Between the Lines”. Two lines, one zigzagging and the other completely straight, cross one another five times; “The Voids”, vertical bare-concrete unavoidable spaces are located at line intersections. They are almost empty, not heated, and scarcely illuminated places representing “That which can never be exhibited when it comes to Jewish Berlin history: Humanity reduced to ashes.” (Daniel Libeskind, 2000).
Covering the floor of one of the voids is the impressive “Shalechet” (Fallen Leaves) installation by Menashe Kadishman, composed of over ten thousand circular open-mouthed faces cut from steel plates, evoking the terror of the innocent victims.

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The void with the “Shalechet” installation by Menashe Kadishman. © Jüdisches Museum Berlin, Schenkung von Dieter und Si Rosenkranz, photo: Jens Ziehe

The building exterior is clad with a titanium-zinc skin, narrow windows create an apparently casual pattern, actually based on an old map of Berlin; furthermore, floor levels and room positions cannot be precisely identified from the outside by looking at the façade.

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A close-up of the building façade. © Jüdisches Museum Berlin, Foto: Jens Ziehe

The Jewish museum’s galleries house a permanent exhibition, conceived by Kenneth C. Gorbey and Nigel Cox, entitled “Two Millennia of German Jewish History”, narrating the Jews’ history in Germany from Roman times to the present day. Along with being a long narration in itself, the Libeskind’s building also houses site-specific artworks, such as the already mentioned “Shalechet” installation, that are an integral part of the visit. Temporary exhibition spaces complete the space.

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Two images of the permanent exhibition galleries. Top: © Jüdisches Museum Berlin, Foto: Thomas Bruns. Bottom: photo © BitterBredt. Courtesy of Studio Daniel Libeskind

The Glass Courtyard
In 2007, Libeskind was required to design a new space aimed to host special events, music concerts, and theatrical performances, to complete the offer of the Jewish Museum Berlin. The result was the “Glass Courtyard”, a transparent structure inspired by the “Sukkah” Jewish booths, with a floor area of 670 square meters, enclosing the Kollegienhaus court and made mainly of steel and glass. One of the key points of the design was to find a good way to accommodate, both visually and structurally, the Kollegienhaus building, dating back to 1735. The solution conceived by Libeskind was to create an independent structure, “self-supporting like a free-standing table on four legs”. The addition, with its transparency, fulfilled the constraint of not overcoming the delicate Baroque appearance of the old palace, while at the same time providing all the flexible space required.




The Glass Courtyard. Top: photo © BitterBredt. Courtesy of Studio Daniel Libeskind. Middle and bottom: © Jüdisches Museum Berlin, photos: Jens Ziehe

The Academy
Another design by Daniel Libeskind, the “Academy”, was added in 2012, a further expansion to be used as a research, learning, and educational facility as well as providing more space for the museum offices.

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The Academy. Top: © Jüdisches Museum Berlin, Photos: Jens Ziehe. Bottom: © Jüdisches Museum Berlin, Photo: Linus Lintner, 2012


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The Jüdisches Museum (Jewish Museum) in Berlin is a museum dedicated to 2,000 years of history, culture and traditions of the Jewish communities in Germany

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