Happy Moments for a Curator
Ilse Bing’s Photograph “New York—The Elevated and Me”

A self-portrait shot by Ilse Bing on her first trip to New York in 1936 has been imprinted on my mind’s eye for a very long time. The image was up for sale only twice in the last twenty years. On the first occasion, in 2009, a vintage print went at auction for the princely sum of 25,000.00 EUR. Given its rarity and great market value, I imagined at the time that the enchanting image was unlikely ever to become a part of our collection. For me, it came to be the very epitome of wishful thinking.

black white photograph of the skyline New York with Ilse Bing in specular reflection

Ilse Bing, “New York—The Elevated and Me,” print from 1988 of the original negative from 1936. Jewish Museum Berlin © Estate of Ilse Bing


The photograph depicts a station on the Elevated (subway line) in New York and the reflection in a small round mirror of the photographer with her Leica. The title “New York—The Elevated and Me” underscores the hybridity here of cityscape and self-portrait.

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From the ceramic jug to the Pineapple Goblet: Working with archival items

photograph of the storage room of the Jewish Museum Berlin with an opened glass cabinet

View of Jewish Musem-Berlin storage,© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe

It’s cold. The neon light casts a harsh glare. A gray cabinet stands next to another along white walls. The room feels sterile. The air conditioning hums. A gloomy place.

I put on blue, latex gloves, open one of the cabinets and take out a gray carton. Contours of an item shimmer from under layers of tissue paper. Carefully, I take the object out of the carton and free it from the paper; a microcosm of history presents itself, as if this gloomy place accentuates the aura of the item, the room itself taking a whole step back.  continue reading

Our “Diversity in Schools” Program: the Whys, Wherefores, and Lessons Learned

Coulerful tablet with sketches

A “graphic recording” of the ways in which schools and museums can cooperate more closely on diversity issues © JMB, photo: Jule Roehr

We learned a lot in the course of our three-year “Vielfalt in Schulen” [ViS] program, which the Jewish Museum Berlin [JMB] carried out in cooperation with the Deutsche Kinder- und Jugendstiftung [DKJS, German Foundation for Children and Young People], with funding courtesy of the Stiftung Mercator [Mercator Foundation]. Journalist Alke Wierth of the national daily paper, tageszeitung, recently helped us weigh up the results.

Alke Wierth: Looking back on what you had in mind when launching the “ViS” program, can you recall at which point you first thought: “Things are not going the way we planned?”

Rosa Fava, project leader, JMB: It was right at the start, at one of the meetings with the participating schools, where we discussed their expectations of the program. A lot of the stuff talked about there made me wonder: What on earth has this to do with our concept?

For example?
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