The museum is a private institution run by the „Association for Jewish History and Religion“ and the „Jewish Museum of Westphalia Foundation“. Visitors can learn about Jewish history in Westphalia and the Jewish religion and they have the opportunity to experience Jewish history and culture in a regional context as well as to reflect on Jewish life in Germany in the past and present. The permanent exhibition is divided into two sections: „Jewish Religion and Culture“ and „Jews in Westphalia“. Special exhibitions are housed in the refurbished old building of the Museum.
The rise of the museum declines to a citizens' action group and history workshop: The research group „Dorsten under the swastika“, which started work in 1982. An organization that got to work on the construction of a documentation centre came from this group and its regional historical re-searches in 1987. In June 1992 the Jewish Museum of Westphalia started its first activities. The museum is located in an old building from of 19th for the 20th century in the centre of Dorsten. A few years later a modern extension was built which was opened in August 2001 and it is here that the permanent exhibition is now housed. Approx. 200 square meters of new exhibition spaces and an event hall, a generous foyer and a new library extension, arose with that among other things. A little garden gives the opportunity of the relaxation in event breaks and a small collection of sculptures assembles.
The museum has a considerable collection of Judaica, predominant from 19th and early 20th century. Religious and historical books dating back to the 16th century, graphics and prints of the reli-gious life and the Jewish history in Germany complete the collection. We look for and collect Judaica, books and estates from Westphalia and of Westphalian Jews. Objects and documents from the time of the National Socialism are part of the collection, under this also an old dirty clothes basket that was discovered only 1989 on the attic of a house filled with books. These books had hidden from Jewish families before their deportation in January 1942.