A-CEP Southern Germany 2016

Southern Germany // Vorarlberg, Austria
April 17-21, 2016

During one sunny week in April, 15 curators from Jewish museums across Europe took part in the brand new incarnation of the Advanced Curatorial Education Programme. For the first time, the programme was not just based in one city, but it rather took the form of a curatorial expedition, spanning the German regions of Bavaria and Swabia and the Austrian region Vorarlberg. Each night, the group stayed in a new town, and each day was filled with museums and other sites of Jewish interest.

A major theme of the seminar was Jewish built heritage on location. The group was able to see numerous examples of Jewish built heritage in the south German country side, including synagogues in Memmelsdorf, Binswangen, Kriegshaber, Schwäbisch Gmünd, Ulm, and Baisingen, as well as the branches of Jewish Museum of Franconia in Schwabach and Schnaittach, located in a former Jewish home and synagogue, respectively.

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Decorations inside historical sukkah in Jewish Museum of Franconia in Schwabach

Each building had been preserved, restored and presented in a different way, which prompted many interesting discussions about how to communicate historical narratives through buildings with a Jewish history. In each location, the group was warmly welcomed by guides and museum professionals, who gave fascinating insights into the history of each building, as well as the though processes and discussions involved in their restoration.

In addition, the participants got to visit the Jewish museums of the south German country side, the Jewish Museum of Franconia in Fürth and the Jewish Culture Museum Augsburg-Schwaben, where they were given curatorial tours of the museums by the directors.

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From “Beer is the Wine of this Land: Jewish Brewery Tales” in the Jewish Museum Munich

The second theme of the seminar was temporary exhibits, and workshops were given at three different temporary exhibits in different museums. Starting in Munich, the group visited the exhibit “Beer is the Wine of this Land: Jewish Brewery Tales” in the Jewish Museum Munich, and was even treated to a sample of the beer brewed especially for this exhibition. The Ulm Museum showed “Questions of Faith. Chat Rooms along the Way to the Modern Era”, dealing with inter-faith relations through the ages. The last temporary exhibit visited was “Odd”, in which the Jewish Museum Hohenems reflects on its 25-year long history through objects from its collection.

The trip ended in Hohenems, at the foot of the Austrian Alps, where the group visited the Jewish cemetery and the former Hohenems synagogue and mikve, explored the Jewish museum’s permanent and temporary exhibits, and enjoyed a farewell dinner in a restaurant housed in a former Jewish school.

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Hohenems Jewish Cemetery, location of Susan Philipsz’s sound installation “Night and Fog”

The participants agreed that it had been an intense week, filled with new knowledge, ideas, inspiration and connections. One of the participants, Anda Reuben, who is in the process of establishing a Jewish museum in a former synagogue in Mediaş, Romania, commented that: “the wealth of ideas and solutions that I have gathered from all these locations is immense. I have collected numerous notes and photographs that will later help me and my team recreate some of the solutions that caught my eye along the way. The other aspect of my participation, which will prove invaluable in the years to come, is the connection with other professionals. The network of professionals, enabled by the AEJM online forum, is a great tool for testing new ideas and for learning, long after the program is over.” 

Photos: Tomasz Strug and AEJM.
The top image shows the group exploring the former synagogue in Memmelsdorf.

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