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Detail from an oil painting: portrait of Moses Mendelssohn in half profile, the eyes are directed at the viewer, the left eye is highlighted by a red frame

“We dreamed of nothing but Enlightenment”

Moses Mendelssohn – Exhibition

Immigrant, Enlightenment philosopher, and self-made intellectual: in his time, Moses Mendelssohn was already a European celebrity and he remains a central figure in German Judaism to this day.

The exhibition told of Mendelssohn’s life in Berlin and showed him as a figure who integrated polarizing forces in the midst of historical upheaval and awakening.

Past exhibition

Map with all buildings that belong to the Jewish Museum Berlin. The Old Building is marked in green


Old Building, level 1
Lindenstraße 9–14, 10969 Berlin

With his Christian and Jewish friends, Moses Mendelssohn discussed philosophical and political questions. As an author he challenged his audience to think critically. As an observant Jew, he linked tradition with Enlightenment ideas, and championed secular education and civil equality for his “Jewish nation.” His translation of the Torah made religious knowledge accessible to all.

The exhibition presented the era of the Enlightenment as a laboratory for radical change, in which human rights, freedom of opinion, and the diversity of individual ways of life were articulated and demanded. With his arguments for the emancipation of Jews, rights for minorities, and the separation of religion and the state, Mendelssohn opened paths into modernity—and provoked questions about Jewish identity that persist to this day.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Federal President of Germany, spoke at the opening festivities.

Oil painting: portrait of Moses Mendelssohn depicted in half profile in a painted oval frame, eyes are directed to the viewers.

Johann Christoph Frisch, Portrait of Moses Mendelssohn, Berlin 1783; Jewish Museum Berlin, accession 2013/355/0, photo: Roman März. Further information on this painting can be found in our online collections (in German).

Accomanying Program

Moderated by Frederek Musall and with a rotating cast of panelists, the Mendelssohn Discourses took Moses Mendelssohn’s writings as a point of departure for discussions of contemporary issues and debates. Each of the discussion events was devoted to a thematic area: Enlightenment: Fake News, Sentimentality, Reason; Power: Tradition, State, Religion; Media Revolution: The Public Sphere, Celebrity, and the Proliferation of Imagery.

An exhibition of the Jewish Museum Berlin in cooperation with the Mendelssohn Society, Berlin.

Events Pro­gram by the Mendels­sohn-Gesell­schaft

In addi­tion to the Jewish Mu­seum Berlin's pro­grams, the Mendels­sohn-Gesell­schaft is orga­nizing events accom­panying the exhi­bition. More infor­mation and regis­tration here

With the support of

LOTTO-Stiftung Berlin (Logo)

Exhibition Information at a Glance

  • When14 Apr to 11 Sep 2022
  • WhereOld Building, level 1
    Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin
    See Location on Map
Ausschnitt aus einem Ölgemälde: Porträt von Moses Mendelssohn im Halbprofil, die Augen sind auf die Betrachtenden gerichtet, das linke ist durch einen roten Rahmen hervorgehoben

Exhibition “We dreamed of nothing but Enlightenment” – Moses Mendelssohn: Features & Programs

Exhibition Webpage
Current page: “We dreamed of nothing but Enlightenment” – Moses Mendelssohn: 14 Apr to 11 Sep 2022
“We dreamed of nothing but Enlightenment” – Moses Mendelssohn: Exhibition catalog, 2022, bilingual in German and English
Moishe. Six Anecdotes from the Life of Moses Mendelssohn: Graphic Novel by Typex, 2022, English edition, with reading sample for download
Moische. Sechs Anekdoten aus dem Leben des Moses Mendelssohn: Graphic Novel by Typex, 2022, German edition, with reading sample for download
Digital Content
Moses Mendelssohn and His Time: Online feature, 2022
Mendelssohn Discourses: Media Revolution – Publicity, Celebrity, A Flood of Images: Video recording with Frederek Musall, Caspar Battegay, and Shmuel Feiner, 2022, in Englisch
Mendelssohn Discourses: Enlightenment: Fake News, Sentimentality, Reason: Video recording with Carolin Emcke, Hannah Peaceman, Frederek Musall, Inka Bertz, and Thomas Lackmann, 2022
Based on a True Story: Interview with Typex, comic artist and author of Moishe, 2022
See also
Moses Mendelssohn, Philosopher
Moses Mendelssohn: More objects in our online collections, in German

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