Conservation of Letters and Seals

Letter from 19th century adressed to Emanuel Mendel

Letter accompanying the award certificate for the Order of the Red Eagle, Fourth Class, bestowed upon Emmanuel Mendel © Jewish Museum Berlin, gift of Wolfang Schönpflug, photo: Ulrike Neuwirth

A huge number of objects enter the collection of the Jewish Museum Berlin every year. Each must be inventoried and studied. Many of these items have a long history, often having circled the globe. Having survived flights, emigration and decades of storage, some documents are in such bad shape, they cannot be used without further damaging them. As paper conservators, our task is to at least conserve, if not restore, these objects, so that they can again be handled without exposing them to additional wear and tear.

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“Other but not Foreign” – David Ranan about His Interviews with Young Jews in Germany

Black and white photography: Portrait of a man

The author © David Ranan

For his book, “The shadows of the past are still long: Young Jews on their lives in Germany,” culture researcher, David Ranan, conducted interviews with Jews between 20-40 whose grandparents survived the Holocaust and then settled in Germany after the war. The London-based author will present his book at the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin on 7 July 2015, as part of the “New German Stories” series. In advance, we asked him three questions.

Julia Jürgens: Mr. Ranan, one question you asked your interviewees deals with the “packed luggage” the first and second generation seem to have at the ready, an expression of their inner conflict between being able to safely stay or having to again flee. Is there still this conflict within the third generation or how else would you describe its sense of belonging to Germany?  continue reading

Sparrows, 4 Euro, and the Stuff of a City

A Conversation with the Artists Maria und Natalia Petschatnikov

The end of May, as the first palpable rays of sun shone in Berlin, offered the perfect occasion for an outing to Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood. There the artists Maria and Natalia Petschatnikov showed me their atelier and told me about “Sparrows” and “4 Euros,” the two objects they made for the Jewish Museum Berlin’s art vending machine. They also talked about their current projects and responded with good humor to all of my questions above and beyond the subject of art.

Twins on chairs in front of paintings on the wall

Maria (left) and Natalia Petschatnikov in front of part of their project “Berlin & Berlin”, 2015
© and photo by Michaela Roßberg

Michaela Roßberg: You work together and you’re twins – identical twins. What is it like to work so closely? How do you develop ideas and work on projects? And does one or the other of you start with an image of the finished work in mind?

Maria: We do a lot through dialogue. It isn’t that one of us has an idea and, once a project is finished, could say: “That was my idea.” Our work emerges from a joint process. For instance, we walk through the city and see interesting things that get us thinking. We talk about them, and together, start forming ideas.  continue reading