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


Wire-frame Geese and Elevator Signs

Object Lessons on our Museum’s History

Young woman wearing blue gloves organizing old tags of staff members of the museum

Trainee Lisa Renner performing inventory; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: David Studniberg

I still remember my first day of work at the museum well, some months ago. Together with two new colleagues, I rode the elevator one floor down, we passed through two secured doors, and there we were: in the warehouse. There on two iron shelves towered bulging boxes and cartons as well as all kinds of objects — and with them, my job for the next eight months as an academic volunteer at the Jewish Museum Berlin: to set up a little special exhibition on the history of the museum itself.

Somewhat at a loss, I rummaged through a hodgepodge of exhibition papers, invitations, and photographs of people I didn’t know, and asked myself what a wire-frame goose on skateboard wheels or an old elevator sign were doing in a museum.  continue reading