JMS goes digital!

Interview with Dinah Ehrenfreund, Kathrin Gisin and Naomi Lubrich

In win­ter 2022, the Jewish Muse­um of Switz­er­land is making its coll­ec­tion acces­si­ble online. Han­nah Schön­ho­fen spo­ke with Kath­rin Gisin, pro­ject coor­di­na­tor, Dinah Ehren­freund, cura­tor, and Nao­mi Lubrich, muse­um direc­tor, about how to make the objects from the past available for the future.

HS: Why did you deci­de to put the museum’s coll­ec­tion online?

DE: The JMS holds the lar­gest publicly acces­si­ble coll­ec­tion of Jewish objects in Switz­er­land. But we only show a small per­cen­ta­ge of our coll­ec­tion in our exhi­bi­ti­ons. We store many other objects in our depots. They also deser­ve to be seen, so we would like to make them acces­si­ble to the inte­res­ted public.

HS: How big is the coll­ec­tion and how is it documented?

KG: The coll­ec­tion curr­ent­ly com­pri­ses about 2050 inven­to­ry num­bers. Sin­ce some inven­to­ry num­bers encom­pass seve­ral indi­vi­du­al items, we have about 4000 objects in total. Until the turn of the mill­en­ni­um, our muse­um kept an ana­log card index for its inven­to­ry. Start­ing in 2000, the ent­ries on the index cards were trans­fer­red to a data­ba­se. We see a dis­crepan­cy in the descrip­ti­ons of the objects, some with gre­at and others with les­ser detail. In the cour­se of the pro­ject, we plan to stan­dar­di­ze the descrip­ti­ons and sup­ple­ment the infor­ma­ti­on whe­re we can. We’re also adding good object pho­to­graphs for each object.

HS: Will all the objects go online?

NL: No, only a sel­ec­tion. First we have to look at all the ent­ries in our data­ba­se and trans­la­te the texts into Eng­lish and French. Then we will ask our object donors whe­ther and how they would like to be named. The same goes for len­ders. When they give us their go-ahead, we can add their objects to the online collection.

HS: What is the next step in the project?

DE: After we have loo­ked at each ent­ry, we will spend some weeks rese­ar­ching the objects we know least about. In addi­ti­on to our team, we will invi­te a his­to­ri­an and a Judai­ca expert to look at the objects with us. We hope to find out more about them, inclu­ding their coll­ec­tion history.

HS: In what way is the digi­tiza­ti­on pro­ject con­nec­ted to the museum’s move?

NL: For plan­ning the exhi­bi­ti­on and buil­ding our new sto­rage space, it is very hel­pful to have, for ins­tance, the exact mea­su­re­ments of the objects, mea­ning their height, width and depth. The mea­su­re­ments allow us to build dis­play cases and sto­rage space in the right sizes. Their mate­ri­al is also important. Kno­wing exact­ly how many are made of metal, tex­ti­le, or paper, allows us to store them bet­ter. Some objects need to be pro­tec­ted from light, others are sen­si­ti­ve to temperature.

HS: Thank you very much!

verfasst am 09.05.2022