New permanent exhibitions in the Great Synagogue  21 November 2004

Religion and History of the Jews in the Netherlands 1600-1890

On 21 November 2004 the Jewish Historical Museum opened two new permanent exhibitions: on Jewish religion and tradition, and on the History of the Jews in the Netherlands, 1600-1890. At the same time the JHM launched a new house style and a new website www.jhm.nl.

In these displays the museum has attempted to meet the expectations of today's public and match contemporary standards of museum presentation. A less distant approach has been taken, and emphasis has been placed on the character of the building. The visitor is once again struck by the synagogue's architecture. Its many beautiful windows, previously hidden behind numerous panels, are now visible, for example. The front porch, the Great Synagogue's original entrance, is again accessible. During the day, passers-by can look into the synagogue through a glass wall.

On the ground floor of the Great Synagogue, the presentation features Jewish traditions and customs. The exhibition is based on the synagogue's original interior. Visitors are soon aware of the remarkable nature of the place in which they find themselves and experience the synagogue's atmosphere. Ceremonial objects are displayed where they would have been used in the synagogue. Superb Torah mantles and finials from the museum collection, for example, are shown in the niche of the now restored Ark. Key events in Jewish life, as well as some annual Jewish festivals and Shabbat are featured. Besides historic film and audio recordings, many new films are also shown reflecting the diversity of modern Judaism.

The new presentation on the Great Synagogue galleries provides a chronological survey of the history of the Jews in the Netherlands between 1600 and 1890. The exhibition focuses on various milestones, such as rise of Amsterdam's Jewish quarter and the attainment of civic equality in 1796. The stories about the arrival of Jewish migrants, their more or less successful attempts at integration, cultural exchanges with non-Jewish compatriots and the struggle to retain their identity clearly resonate with contemporary situations and debates.

New presentations were designed by DJO Donald Janssen Ontwerpers.
Graphic design was by M/V LEVIEVANDERMEER.

For further information and/or visuals please contact the Communications Department:
T +31 (0)20 5 310 370
F +31 (0)20 5 310 311
E Communications Department

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