The myth of artificial life – from homunculi and cyborgs to robots and androids – was the focus of an extensive thematic exhibition about the golem at the Jewish Museum Berlin. This most prominent of Jewish legendary figures has inspired generations of artists and writers to this day.
Our exhibition presented the golem from a variety of perspectives, from its inception in a Jewish mystical ritual to its role as a subject of popular storytelling in film and its afterlife in artistic and digital realms. You can still take a look at our online feature on the golem theme.
Old Building, level 1
Lindenstraße 9–14, 10969 Berlin
What Is a Golem?
A golem is a creature formed out of a lifeless substance such as dust or earth that is brought to life by ritual incantations and sequences of Hebrew letters. The golem, brought into being by a human creator, becomes a helper, a companion, or a rescuer of an imperiled Jewish community. In many golem stories, the creature runs amok and the golem itself becomes a threat to its creator.
What Awaited You in the Exhibition
The exhibition demonstrated the thematic richness of the material, as is apparent from medieval manuscripts, many-layered narratives, and works of art from the last two hundred years. The golem symbolizes each era's dreaded dangers and hopes for redemption. The exhibition used the golem figure to examine topics like creativity, creation, power, and redemption. Whether in painting, sculpture, object art, video, installation art, photography, or illustration, the golem is very much alive and, with it, the question of what it means to be human.
Exhibition artists answer two questions about the golem
We asked artists whose work was shown in the exhibition two questions and filmed their answers.
Question 1: How did you first encounter the Golem?
This question is answered by: Joshua Abarbanel, Jorge Gil, and Mark Podwal.
Question 2: What does the Golem mean to you?
This question is answered by: Joachim Seinfeld, Tobi Kahn, Daniel Laufer, Mira Maylor, and Krištof Kintera.
Exhibition Information at a Glance
23 Sep 2016 to 29 Jan 2017
Old Building, level 1
Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin
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Monday Movies for the Exhibition: GOLEM (5)
Films related to the exhibition theme, screened at the Jewish Museum Berlin during the exhibition
17 October 2016
Director: Alex Garland, England, 2015, 108 min; English with German subtitles
Frankenstein’s 200th Birthday
31 October 2016
Halloween Film Night
14 November 2016
Director: Julien Duvivier, France, 1936, 95 min; French with English subtitles
The Emperor and his Baker
5 December 2016
Directors: Martin Fric and Jirí Krejcík, Czechoslovakia, 1951, 112 min; Czech with English subtitles
The Golem and Jacaszek
23 January 2017
Silent Film with Live Musical Accompaniment
Directed by: Paul Wegener and Carl Boese, Germany 1920, 87 min
Events Accompanying the Exhibition: GOLEM (11)
Golem talks, workshops, readings, and film premiere: events for adults, kids, and families held during our Golem exhibition in 2016–17.
Long Museum Night
27 August 2016
The Golem is Coming! The Jewish legend figure has inspired artists and authors
Golem – The Legend of Man
13 September 2016
ARTE Film Première and Discussion
The Clay Giant's Alive!
Held on 8 and 9 October. A musical reading (in German) with the author Anke Kuhl, plus a visit to the golem workshop, for children aged 5 and older
The Golem is Coming
A vacation day all about golems for children aged 8 to 12 (in German)
20 and 27 Oct 2016
Greetings from Golem
Exhibition tour and screen-printing workshop for adults and children 6 and older (in German)
13 Nov 2016
You want a golem?
17 November 2016
Golem talks: Joshua Cohen reads from his highly-praised Book of Numbers.
Cathy Gelbin: The Golem Returns
1 December 2016
Golem talks: The slide presentation examines the special role of the golem for the formation of a modern Jewish culture and identity.
Guided Tour for School Students
Program for school groups, ages 6 to 19
Tour for Adults
A one-hour group program
For Preschool and Afterschool Groups
A program for school groups and after-school groups, ages 7 and older, who want to built their own golem
Public guided tour for adults
Every Sunday (23 September–29 January 2017), 2 pm