Statistics and Sticky Notes

On Identifying Museum Visitors and What Moves Them

A young woman with a bouquet of flowers

The ten-millionth visitor Paula Konga in November 2015 © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Svea Pietschmann

Gleeful excitement in the museum lobby, for we are greeting our ten-millionth visitor since the opening in 2001, and we are all ears. “It’s my day off and I want to take the opportunity to revisit the permanent exhibition,” the 33-year-old Berliner Paula Konga tells us. An architect by profession, she is particularly interested in Daniel Libeskind’s design of the museum. “The building is well worth visiting more than once, also for Berliners.” No sooner have we handed over a bouquet of flowers and a one-year-membership in the Friends of the Jewish Museum Berlin Association than our guest of honor vanishes into the ramified spaces of the Libeskind Building (further information about the Libeskind Building can be found on our website).

Next, a group of Italian schoolchildren pushes past me, another museum visitor asks me to switch his audio guide to French, and a group of British teenagers mills about in search of a young man in a red cap. The seething mass sets me thinking: What actually moves you here, in the Jewish Museum Berlin?  continue reading


Meanwhile in the Box …

The Many Faces of Isaac and Ismael, Part 4

Our special exhibition, “Obedience. An Installation in 15 Rooms by Saskia Boddeke & Peter Greenaway,” has been extended until 15 November 2015. The multimedia art installation takes on the sons’ perspectives of this biblical story, when Abraham intended to sacrifice his son in fulfillment of God’s command. In a film projection at the beginning of the exhibition, visitors are greeted by children, youth and young adults with the words, “I am Isaac” or “I am Ismael,” in a variety of languages.

There’s an interactive component to the exhibition, located in the Eric F. Ross Gallery on the ground floor of the Libeskind Building: A video box where visitors can express these words in their own way and, in so doing, more strongly identify with the child perspective of this story of the attempted sacrifice. We’ve presented a small selection of these video clips on the blog over the last several months.

Lisa Albrecht, continuing her task of compiling the clips, has concluded that Isaac and Ismael not only have many faces, but also many names.

However, not all Museum guests are so ‘obedient’ in fulfilling the video box’s intended purpose:  continue reading


“We’ve always been spoken and written about”

The “Daughters and Sons of Gastarbeiters” (guest workers) are the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin’s guest on 14 October 2015, part of the “New German Stories” series. As children, these Berlin authors followed their parents to Germany from their home villages in Anatolia, southern Europe and the Balkans, or they were born into working-class neighborhoods around Germany. Their mothers and fathers were supposed to bolster the German economic recovery as mere “guest workers”. The authors tell their personal stories, look back, follow their parents’ paths and thus add to Germany’s culture of memory. In advance of the event, we’ve asked three questions of Çiçek Bacık, the project’s leader and co-initiator:

Portrait of a woman

Çiçek Bacık © Neda Navaee

Ms. Bacık, how did the “Daughters and Sons of Gastarbeiters” come to be and what was the motivation to tell these personal stories?

Last year, I went to a reading with my friend, the journalist Ferda Ataman. We were sitting in a bar afterwards. “Ferda, we have to start telling our stories and share them with others. We ourselves have to shed light on a dark chapter of our past we’ve successfully repressed,” I said. “Sure, and what’s stopping us?” That was the starting point for “Daughters and Sons of Gastarbeiters”. Our first reading took place in January 2015 at the Wasserturm in Kreuzberg.  continue reading