“Faith isn’t something you can see from the outside.”

A Visit with Sister Katharina at Karmel Berlin

Transparent bust wearing a black veil.

Sister Katharina donated this veil to us for our exhibition; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Katharina Erbe.

Covering one’s head has almost entirely disappeared from Christian women’s devotional practice. In Germany, you only actually see veils on the sisters of Catholic religious orders. In preparing for the exhibition Cherchez la femme (more about it on our website) we all agreed early on that we wanted a nun’s veil.

So I set out for Karmel Regina Martyrum in the northern part of Berlin’s Charlottenburg district, a convent of Discalced (or Barefoot) Carmelites. The convent’s wardrobe mistress, Sister Katharina, greeted me at the door. After some discussion, her view on the matter emerged as fairly sober: some people may ascribe specific spiritual meaning to certain items of clothing but it was very personal issue. In any one community you can meet with a wide variety of attitudes and practices.

Our conversation about the meaning of their religious dress began with Sister Katharina sharing an anecdote:  continue reading


27th Federal Museum Trainees Conference

New program director of the Jewish Museum Berlin holds lecture for future museum generation

1) Dear Mrs. Meijer-van Mensch: over the last years you have worked for various institutions in different countries. What distinguishes the museum landscape in Germany from other countries in your opinion?

Portrait of a woman standing in a big open staircase. She wears a dark-blue blazer and a white blouse mit dunkelblauem Blazer und weißer Bluse, die in einem großen, offenen Treppenhaus steht

Program director Léontine Meijer-van Mensch puts much value upon the promotion of the future museum generation; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Yves Sucksdorff

First I would like to say that in Germany – contrary to the Netherlands – there is a widely supported notion that culture in general (and therefore museums) is important. It is stimulating to be able to work in such an environment. Before World War II German museology was very influential worldwide. After the war Germany lost its leading position and new developments in the international museum world were not always fully embraced. An example is the importance of education and the role of educators within the organization of the museum.  continue reading


The Restitution of the Banquet

– The Story of a Search

Oil paining in gold frame depicting a banquet

This oil sketch entitled Das Gastmahl der Familie Mosse (The Mosse Family Banquet) was restituted to the community of heirs of Felicia Lachmann-Mosse; Photo: Jewish Museum Berlin, Jens Ziehe.

Today is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day when we also remember the consequences of the criminal Nazi regime, which can still be felt today. One of these consequences is that a lot of museums are still holding cultural artifacts that were unlawfully confiscated from their owners during the Nazi era. Thus the Jewish Museum Berlin restored the oil sketch Das Gastmahl der Familie Mosse (The Mosse Family Banquet) to the heirs of Felicia Lachmann-Mosse in December last year. How was this decision reached? Provenance research has attracted increasing attention in recent years and caused frequent rumblings in the media – but how is it actually carried out?  continue reading