For Love of the Catalogs

A conversation with art historian, rabbi, and literature collector Edward van Voolen, drs.

For three and a half years now, the art historian and rabbi Edward van Voolen has supported the DFG project. With his help, our library has developed into a research library for Jewish art, through generous gifts from his private collection. It now includes over 500 publications in the fields of Jewish art and material culture.

Edward van Voolen; photo: private

For 35 years, Mr. van Voolen was a curator at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam. He is now a rabbi in Germany. Since 2003, he has taught at the Abraham Geiger College at the University of Potsdam, publishing regularly on topics related to Jewish religion, art, and history.

Lea Weik asked him a few questions about his passion for collecting, and about his considerable donation.

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“A living permanent exhibition that always offers something new”

Last round (for now) for the art vending machine

It is one of our museum’s little success stories: this year will see the art vending machine’s fifth (and, for now, last) tour of duty in the permanent exhibition. After five years “Art from the Vending Machine” will have sold over 12,250 works. Maren Krüger, curator of the permanent exhibition, explains its achievement thus: “We know that visitors enjoy taking something away with them, that they like surprises and are interested in the present time. In addition, we want a permanent exhibition that’s alive, that always offers something new. That’s how the concept emerged.”

Seven women in front of the art vending machine

The artists of the fifth round of the art vending machine; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Yves Sucksdorff

As with all projects that work well, a number of people were involved. First of all, there’s Christiane Bauer, our former colleague who supplied the idea. She was inspired by the art vending machines at the Kunsttick Agency, which can now be found all over Germany. In fact, while searching online for a suitable model, she came upon an old vending machine from the 70s that stood in a sports center in the Rhineland-Palatinate province. First though, it had to be transported to Berlin…  continue reading

Art and Sanctuary: An Encounter Project in the Blue Room

Empty easles in front of a deep blue wall

The Blue Room – things remain exciting! Photo: Barbara Rösch

A boat made of wood and painted canvas strips, a yodeling flamingo, a photograph of turquoise tiles from a Berlin subway station, two cake replicas, metamorphosed Ugaritic letters, a fisherman, a play. What do they all have to do with each other? They are all going to be exhibited at the Jewish Museum Berlin this summer.

And what do a car-body painter, well known in his native Iraq, an architect from Syria, a young Egyptian chef, a painter from the former Soviet Union, a Greek doctoral student, and a social worker from right here in Berlin have in common? They will all be exhibiting at the Jewish Museum Berlin this summer.

On July 12 a group exhibition entitled The Blue Room opens. It will be the high point of a meeting project that I have been supervising since January.  continue reading