On November 18, 2013 Vienna’s Jewish Museum will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its foundation and its 20th year at the Palais Eskeles with a party and the official opening of a new permanent exhibition. The new show lifts the lid on Jewish life in the Austrian capital, tracing developments from the Middle Ages to the holocaust, with the postwar period to the present day also providing a major focus. A thought-provoking narrative strategy employed in special guided tours creates the impression of looking in the rear view mirror. Starting at the present day visitors will be spirited back in time to 1945. From here they will follow time in reverse, moving from the holocaust to fin de siècle Vienna, before continuing though the mists of time to the great immigration waves of the 19th century and the “city of tolerance” established under Joseph II. Next, their guide will whisk them even farther back through history to the 17th century Unterer Werd ghetto (in what is now the second district) and the original Medievel Jewish citadel.
The new permanent exhibition also explores the various periods in Vienna’s history when Jews were banished from the capital completely or only a select few were tolerated in the city on strictly commercial grounds. Visitors will be guided through some of the darker sides of Vienna’s history, in an unflinching look at the extremes that have characterised Jewish life in the city over the ages. The Jewish Museum Vienna is also the only museum in the capital to offer its visitors an at-a-glance overview of Viennese and Austrian history.
The premises on Dorotheergasse in the first district were reopened to the public in October 2011 following an extensive refurbishment project and complete redesign of the exhibition spaces. Profiles of leading custodians of Jewish history such as Max Berger – and the highlights of their collections – can be found in the Visible Storage section. Meanwhile, the Atelier functions as a workshop and exhibition space for objects used in every day Jewish rituals. The Jewish Museum also hosts a regularly changing line-up of temporary exhibitions and events. Visitors will find a book store and the Café Eskeles on the ground floor. Rachel Whiteread’s holocaust memorial and the Judenplatz Museum also belong to the Jewish Museum.