Exhibitions

Current

Jewish. For Beginners and Experts

Current Exhibition
2016–2023

What is Jewish? Objects from two millennia offer insight into the oldest
Abrahamic world religion, as celebrated by the Swiss Jewish community
to this day.

What is Jewish? Objects from two millennia offer insight into the oldest
Abrahamic world religion, as celebrated by the Swiss Jewish community
to this day.

A ring from anti­qui­ty, docu­ments from the Midd­le Ages, books from
the ear­ly modern era, house­hold objects from the 18th and 19th centuries,
mani­fest­os for equal rights, tes­ti­mo­nies of the Zio­nist congresses,
belon­gings of emi­grants, con­tem­pora­ry items from Jewish families
today – expe­ri­ence the country’s histo­ry from a new perspective.

 

Video­gui­de (blog arti­cle)
Exhi­bi­ti­on fly­er (PDF)
Press images (ZIP)

Permanent exhibition
Photos © Oliver Kern, 2016

Permanent exhibition
Photos © Oliver Kern, 2016

Permanent exhibition
Photos © Oliver Kern, 2016

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Chai

Installation in the Courtyard
2020–2023

The Jewish Museum of Switzerland presents the installation «Chai – חי, or When Gravestones Tell of Life» by Swiss artist Fabio Luks. Four sculptures enter into a dialog with the medieval gravestones in the museum courtyard, posing questions about the meaning of life and death.

The Jewish Museum of Switzerland presents the installation «Chai – חי, or When Gravestones Tell of Life» by Swiss artist Fabio Luks. Four sculptures enter into a dialog with the medieval gravestones in the museum courtyard, posing questions about the meaning of life and death.

«Chai» enab­les a new encoun­ter with the Basel gra­ve­stones on dis­play, the oldest of which dates back to 1223: The Hebrew word Chai / חי, which means «ali­ve» or «he/she/it lives,» is engra­ved on four sculp­tures, which are model­led on medi­eval gra­ve­stones in their aes­the­tics and mate­ria­li­ty. In addi­ti­on, the four sculp­tures are in the form of four let­ters that can be read from left to right as C‑H-A‑I.

Luks jux­ta­po­ses life with death. He refers to the Jewish tra­di­ti­on of cal­ling a ceme­tery the house of eter­ni­ty (beith almin) and the house of life (beith chaim). In the use of lan­guage, the decea­sed live on. Lan­guage plays a para­mount role in Luks’ art. The engra­ved texts turn stones into sculp­tu­re– and sculp­tu­re into souls.

Fabio Luks (*1982, Switz­er­land) stu­di­ed Fine Arts at the Insti­tu­te of Art in Basel and Phi­lo­so­phy and Jewish Stu­dies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Basel. Text and wri­ting are at the cent­re of Luks’ work. Texts beco­me images and let­ters unfold their figu­ra­ti­ve poten­ti­al. Com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on, tran­si­en­ce, space and being an artist are recur­ring the­mes in his work, which can be seen on his web­site.

Gui­ded Tours (Pri­va­te)

Photo © Harald Neumann

Photo © Harald Neumann

Photo © Harald Neumann

Photo © Ana Laura Rivarola

Photo © Ana Laura Rivarola

Photo © Ana Laura Rivarola

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Online Exhibitions

Objects of Faith

What do the youth believe in?
2017

Glaubensdinge.ch (in German)

What do the youth believe in? What role does religion play for twelve- and thirteen-year-olds, who have grown up in Basel in families with multiple cultural heritages?

Together with school classes, Objects of Faith examines religious diversity as both an opportunity and a challenge in today’s society. Against the backdrop of the Judaica collection of the Jewish Museum, museologists and young students placed their own «objects of faith» under the loupe. In five workshops with 21 students, one teacher, ten Museum employees, two religion experts and one programmer, we collected inventory cards, sketches, polaroids, poems, quotes and interviews, a collection that culminated in an online exhibition.

What was the result? The youth were able to better understand the things that have shaped their identities, and the adults were afforded a glimpse at how the young people think about the future of religious practice.

This online exhibition was conceived and developed by the Jewish Museum of Switzerland and supported by Swisslos-Fonds Basel-Stadt.

Photos © Martin Sautter, 2017

Photos © Martin Sautter, 2017

Photos © Martin Sautter, 2017

Photos © Martin Sautter, 2017

Photos © Martin Sautter, 2017

Photos © Martin Sautter, 2017

Photos © Martin Sautter, 2017

Photos © Martin Sautter, 2017

Photos © Martin Sautter, 2017

Photos © Martin Sautter, 2017

Archive

Passports, Profiteers, Police

A Swiss War Secret
2019–2020

29 November 2019–31 December 2020

«I would like to have a Uruguayan passport» – thus begins Władysław Szlengel's song «Paszporty» (passports), composed in 1942 in the ghetto of Warsaw. It continues: «I would like one for Uruguay, one for Costa Rica, one for Paraguay.» The Latin American passports are not a poetic invention, but a historically verifiable service of help that operated from Switzerland.

The exhibition «Passports, Profiteers, Police. A Swiss War Secret» unveils the network that helped thousands of Jews escape Germany and the occupied territories by providing them with Latin American passports, thus saving them from certain death.

This is an exhibition of the Jewish Museum of Switzerland in cooperation with Archiv für Zeitgeschichte der ETH Zürich under the patronage of Carl Lutz Gesellschaft.

The catalog can be obtained in the museum shop, or from the publishing house edition clandestin.

Passports, Profiteers, Police.
Photos © Samuel Straessle

Passports, Profiteers, Police.
Photos © Samuel Straessle

Passports, Profiteers, Police.
Photos © Samuel Straessle

Passports, Profiteers, Police.
Photos © Samuel Straessle

Passports, Profiteers, Police.
Photos © Samuel Straessle

The Diary

How Otto Frank Brought Anne’s Voice from Basel to the World
2018–2019

8th March 2018 – 30th January 2019

«The Diary. How Otto Frank Brought Anne’s Voice from Basel to the World» tells the story of Anne Frank's diary from the perspective of her father, Otto Frank, «the dearest sweetheart of a father I've ever met,» as Anne notes. He gave Anne the diary in which she kept her observations and thoughts from 1942 to 1944, when she and her family were living in hiding from the Nazis. Otto Frank read to his daughters, he wrote them letters and poems, and he supported their writing. In 1947, two years after the untimely death of his children, he published Anne’s diary.

In 1952, Otto Frank moved to Basel to visit his sister and mother. From Basel and later from Birsfelden he negotiated with publishers for Anne's diary, supervised translations and answered tens of thousands of readers’ letters. Otto Frank's decision to publish his daughter's notes was an essential step in spreading knowledge about the persecution of European Jews. After the publication of Anne Frank's diary, reports, novels and poems by other survivors of the Shoah found numerous readers.

The exhibition is supported by Sulger-Stiftung and Anne Frank Fonds (founded by Otto Frank).

Isrealities

Seven Photographic Journeys
2019

29th March – 1st September 2019

«Isrealities» presents seven photographic journeys. Philippe Halsman, David Seymour, called CHIM, Erich Hartmann, Micha Bar-Am, Patrick Zachmann, Thomas Dworzak, and Oded Balilty give us a tour through the British Mandate for Palestine, guiding us through the founding of the Jewish State to present-day Israel. We participate in kibbutz life and the festivities of Independence Day, we witness the Six-Day War of 1967 and the peace demonstrations of the turn of the millennium. We see what the artists saw and how they saw it. Literary quotes accompanying the photographs form out of individual observations a mosaic of an emerging society.

The exhibition is supported by the Society for the Jewish Museum of Switzerland.

«Isrealities» is an exhibition of the Jewish Museum of Switzerland and CLAIRbyKahn after an idea by Anna-Patricia Kahn. All the artists are represented by CLAIRbyKahn.

Art after Chagall

The Century after the Breakthrough
2017

18 September 2017–21 Januar 2018

Marc Chagall's breakthrough from 1911 onwards heralded the most important century of Jewish art to date. New images of Judaism went around the world, uniting East with West, religion with surrealism and folklore with avant-garde. With his dreamlike, modern paintings of the Eastern European shtetl, Chagall’s example inspired artists in photography, graphic art and painting.

In dialog with the Art Museum of Basel (Chagall. The Years of Breakthrough 1911-1919), the Jewish Museum presents artists who follow in Chagall's footsteps from Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Israel and the USA.

On display are works by Paul Graubard, Otto Wyler, Tobia Ravà, Shai Yehezkelli, Roger Reiss, Alis Guggenheim, Friedensreich Hundertwasser and Zoya Cherkassky.

The exhibition was sponsored by Roldenfund.

Flyer (PDF)

Photo © Naomi Lubrich

Photo © Naomi Lubrich

Photo © Naomi Lubrich

Neuland/Altland

Theodor Herzl’s European legacy
2017

18th August–10th September 2017

In 1897, Theodor Herzl convened a congress in Basel, during which he introduced his idea of a «Jewish State.» With our online exhibition, we show the development of his vision through objects, which include items in the Jewish Museum’s permanent collection. We show the development of Herzl’s vision of a «Jewish State.» Originating in the late nineteenth century, it developed into a political movement through numerous Zionist Congresses. Herzl did not live to see the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948, but he numbers among its spiritual founders, and even today his legacy remains: His countenance decorates banknotes and stamps, and his name is inscribed in Israel’s geography (Herzlia, Herzlberg). Our online exhibition draws on objects from the collection of the Jewish Museum of Switzerland to give a glimpse into Herzl’s life and work.

The exhibition celebrating the 120th anniversary of the first Zionist Congress is dedicated to Herzl's legacy and his charisma as seen by contemporary artists. At the same time, it reflects on the role of artists, whose images have the power to turn people into icons.

The exhibition was conceived by the Embassy of the State of Israel in cooperation with the Jewish Museum of Switzerland.

The online exhibition «Altland. Theodor Herzl's European Legacy» complements the special exhibition and can be accessed at: www.jms-altland.ch.

With generous support from the Basel-Loge Foundation.

Image Creation © Elena Haschemi, 2017

Image Creation © Elena Haschemi, 2017

Image Creation © Elena Haschemi, 2017

Image Creation © Elena Haschemi, 2017

Swiss Jews

150 Years of Equal Rights Voices of Emancipation
Installation in the courtyard
2016

17 March 2016–2 August 2016

On 14 January 1866, 53 percent of the Swiss voted in favour of a partial revision of the Federal Constitution, granting Jews equality and the right of settlement. Today, around 18,000 Swiss Jews help shape the politics, economy, science, and culture of their country.

Before 1866, Jews needed special permission to reside in Switzerland, and these permissions were limited to certain cantons. 150 years ago, a referendum brought about religious emancipation in Switzerland. With the freedom of settlement granted by the referendum of 1866, Swiss Jews were put on an equal footing with other Swiss citizens. Since then, Jews have played a decisive role in shaping the development of this country, in politics, business, science, and culture.

The travelling exhibition conceived by the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities celebrates the diversity of Judaism in Switzerland and 150 years of equal rights. Alexander Jaquemet, who lives in Erlach, photographed 15 of them. His portraits show younger and older people, known and unknown, from different parts of the country and different social classes. The people portrayed pose in settings of their choice, and with their personal stories. Together, reflect a panorama of Jewish self-images in Switzerland.

Cartoon film (in German) «Schweizer Juden. 150 Jahre Gleichberechtigung»
Press images (ZIP)

Wanted, found

Partnership and Love in Judaism
2014–2016

Love and friendship develop in childhood and old age. The desire for a you and me; for an ideal counterpart influences social and societal life. Religious or not, left to chance or arranged – everyone deals with the search for the «perfect partner» at least once in their lives.

Is the search for a partner culture-specific? Where do Jews find suitable partners? How do they reconcile their own wishes or dreams with socially accepted behaviour? What is the significance of love and marriage, family and divorce in today’s society?

The Jewish Museum of Switzerland’s special exhibition on the transition to togetherness or the decision against it focusses on the diversity of dating, what that means for all generations, and the change from the Bible to online dating in a multicultural environment.

1001 Amulets

Protection and Magic – Faith or Superstition?
2012

The need for protection, luck and well-being has shaped religious and secular societies from antiquity to the present day. People turn to objects with magical power – an amulet, a talisman, a lucky charm – to protect them from harm.

Religion, mysticism, faith and superstition are often closely linked. Belief in the power of amulets is widespread and creates a timeless link between different cultures and religions. The Jewish Museum of Switzerland presents (the continuation of) the successful exhibition of ancient Egyptian and Oriental scarabs and amulets from the Bibel+Orient Museum of Fribourg. These exhibits are complemented by Jewish protective amulets for mother and child, for the home, against illness, danger and the evil eye. The objects originate from eighteenth to the twenty-first century Switzerland, Alsace and southern Germany, but also from North Africa and the Middle East. The exhibition presents amulets in an intercultural context. The richly illustrated catalog provides information on amulets from the ancient Orient to Europe of the present.