Completed in 2001, designed by Daniel Libeskind and made of reinforced concrete with a zinc fascade, the Jewish Museum Berlin is a work of art in itself.
Here are the designers own notes:
The Jewish Museum Berlin, which opened to the public in 2001, exhibits the social, political and cultural history of the Jews in Germany from the 4th century to the present. The museum explicitly presents and integrates, for the first time in postwar Germany, the repercussions of the Holocaust. The new extension is housed on the site of the original Prussian Court of Justice building which was completed in 1735 and renovated in the 1960s to become a museum for the city of Berlin.
The new design, which was created a year before the Berlin Wall came down was based on three concepts that formed the museum’s foundation: first, the impossibility of understanding the history of Berlin without understanding the enormous intellectual, economic and cultural contribution made by the Jewish citizens of Berlin, second, the necessity to integrate physically and spiritually the meaning of the Holocaust into the consciousness and memory of the city of Berlin. Third, that only through the acknowledgement and incorporation of this erasure and void of Jewish life in Berlin, can the history of Berlin and Europe have a human future.
The entrance is through the Baroque Kollegienhaus and then into a dramatic entry Void by a stair, which descends under the existing building foundations, crisscrosses underground, and materializes itself as an independent building on the outside. The existing building is tied to the extension underground, preserving the contradictory autonomy of both the old building and the new building on the surface, while binding the two together in the depth of time and space. The descent leads to three underground axial routes, each of which tells a different story. The first, and longest, traces a path leading to the Stair of Continuity, then up to and through the exhibition spaces of the museum, emphasizing the continuum of history. The second leads out of the building and into the Garden of Exile and Emigration, remembering those who were forced to leave Berlin. The third leads to a dead end — the Holocaust Void.
The Holocaust Void cuts through the zigzagging plan of the new building and creates a space that embodies absence. It is a straight line whose impenetrability becomes the central focus around which exhibitions are organized. In order to move from one side of the museum to the other, visitors must cross one of the 60 bridges that open onto this void.
Berlin Memorials >