Berlin Jewish Museum to be Rehung

Jewish Museum Berlin Photo: Guenter Schneider, Studio Daniel Libeskind
Jewish Museum Berlin Photo: Guenter Schneider, Studio Daniel Libeskind

Berlin’s Jewish Museum got a new director on Monday. After 17 years as the founding director of the institution, W. Michael Blumenthal stepped down. Peter Schäfer, who spent the last 16 years at Princeton, has stepped in to take his place. And he has big plans.

According to the dpa, Schäfer intends to carefully rethink the Jewish Museum’s permanent exhibition. The 71-year-old notes that the current display, which traces Jewish history from its earliest traces to the Holocaust, has changed very little  since Blumenthal opened the museum in 1997.

Though Schäfer’s plans haven’t been specifically outlined, he professes to be interested in turning the museum in a more forward-looking direction. He doesn’t want to be overly didactic in approach, but does intend to shift the Daniel Libeskind-designed space towards reckoning with current cultural and religious issues. 

Schäfer is particularly interested in expanding the extent to which the Jewish Museum deals with persistent and increasing tensions between the Jewish and Muslim communities, citing increases in antisemitism and unrest during the internet age. He also wants to open up more space for looking at the German Jewry’s role in the state of Israel.

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