The Jewish Museum in Berlin is the largest museum of Judaism in the whole of Europe. It was officially opened in 2001 to the public after the second building was finished by architect Daniel Libeskind. It is located very near the Checkpoint Charlie Museum and the House of World Cultures so it may be worth visiting these attractions as well.
Plans were already underway to create a new museum as early as 1978 (the former Jewish Museum was destroyed by the Nazis and during The Second World War). The Jewish Museum's collections mostly came from the formerly housed Berlin Museum's Jewish Department. All collections are housed in the Libeskind museum (the second, postmodern building finished in 2007). The senate of Berlin wanted to scrap the Jewish Museum in 1991 after unforeseen economic pressures with Berlin's bid for the future Olympics. However prominent figures such as Benjamin Netanyahu and the Libeskinds (future designers of the new additions to the museum) influenced the Parliament of Berlin to overrule the Senate's decision.
The new building, completed in 2001 is most strikingly clad with zinc and its three axes are symbolic of the Jewish-German experience. Its postmodern style made it an attraction even two years before the - then empty - museum opened, drawing in over 350,000 visitors in a year. The new building's Glass Courtyard, opened in 2007, has become a greater source of attraction for museum goers and architecture lovers alike. The first building, built in 1735, was one of the largest administrative buildings made during Freidrick Wilhelm I's reign. It originally served as a Collegienhaus for the regal Court of Justice and later the Superior Court of Justice (and still retains its name) before turning into the original Jewish Museum in Berlin in 1933. It was then shut down in 1938 by the Nazis and almost completely destroyed in The Second World War. Many works of fine art were destroyed by the Nazis so the new museum had to acquire new works of fine art stretching back to earlier eras. The Collegienhaus was then rebuilt in the 60's by architect Günter Hönow to house the Berlin Museum. Then, in 1993 Daniel Libeskind remodelled the interior of the Collegienhaus. It is a two storied building with three wings and a new glass roof added by Libeskind in 2007. As a remnant of the building's past, the facade is decorated with the Prussian national coat of arms.
The ecclectic history of the museum makes it a must-see attraction for tourists and citizens of Berlin. The mix of avant-garde architecture and Prussian baroque style as well as a stretch of fascinating, dark and enlightening history of Judaism, housed in its exhibitions and collections, makes The Jewish Museum of Berlin a prime intellectual and cultural heritage site, expressing the rich cultural diversity of Berlin.
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