“Between the Lines”

An Architectural Instawalk through the Jewish Museum Berlin

A group of people in the axes of the Libeskind-building

Instagrammers in the Libeskind Building; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Judith Westphal

Where might one best spend the hottest day of the year? If not on the water or in the woods, there are only a few reasonable options. For example, an air conditioned museum with lots of underground passages! Fitting then that as part of Architecture Day on Friday, June 24th 2016, we led a very special kind of museum tour: Equipped with smartphones and professional cameras, we took a group of Berliner Instagrammers through the labyrinth that is the Libeskind Building, with Tommaso as guide. Even we as staff were able to learn a thing or two.  continue reading


An Unsolvable Mystery?

A Photo Collection Found Hiding in Berlin-Friedrichshain

Black and white photograph of a girl standing in front of a door

A girl standing in front of a door, presumably Berlin, about 1918–1922; Jewish Museum Berlin

Every time I open a new folder of photos, I can’t know what’s waiting for me – what faces I’ll find or fates will be revealed. Images are often part of a larger collection, consisting of documents, everyday articles and artwork, for which we already know the biographies of those pictured or can further research. Such was the case, for example, of the cabaret artist, Olga Irén Fröhlich, whom I’ve written about before on this blog. This time, however, the people in the photographs will remain unknown to me; I won’t be able to attach names or histories to them. Perhaps you can!

It’s not out of the ordinary to work with collections that have been in the Museum’s possession for decades.  continue reading


Names Come to Life

Black and white photograph of an elderly couple

Emanuel and Johanna Stern, ca. 1903; Jewish Museum Berlin, gift of Alexander Summerville

Just over two years ago, I penned a blog text describing a Passover Haggada that I had purchased online. It caught my attention due to the lists of names written on the inside front and back covers of individuals who attended the Passover Seders over the course of seven years that were held in two residences in Berlin, both of which were in close proximity to the Jewish Museum Berlin. Research revealed a substantial amount of information about various persons named therein and my text concluded with the hope that contact might be established with descendants of some of those found in the lists.

At the end of March of this year, I flew to Stockholm to visit Alexander Summerville, the great grandson of Paul Aron, in whose home in the Hedemannstraße 13/14 Passover Seders took place in five of the years for which lists exist in the Haggada.  continue reading