Jewish Museums between Self-Assertion and Self-Defence

Cilly Kugelmann

(Jewish Museum Berlin, Germany)

6.30pm, 24 January 2019

 

In the 19th century Jews gradually began to free themselves from their ambivalence towards the fine arts. rabbis repeatedly placed the depiction of people in pictures and sculptures close to idolatry and viewed it with reservations. The discovery of a visual culture in Judaism by the Haskala, the Jewish Enlightenment, fulfilled a double function: it was intended to strengthen a new Jewish self-confidence internally and at the same time to ward off the anti-Semitic prejudice that Jews were incapable of artistic expression. This process will be illustrated by the example of the emergence and development of Jewish museums in Europe.

 

Cilly Kugelmann was the Program Director and Vice Director of the Jewish Museum Berlin from September 2002 until March 2017 and she is currently chief curator on the museum’s new permanent exhibition. She had worked for the museum since May 2000, first as head of the Education departments. Previously, Kugelmann directed the education program, ran public relations, and curated historical exhibitions at the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt am Main.