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“We dreamed of nothing but enlightenment.”

Moses Mendelssohn in His Time – Exhibition Preview

Collage: 1. drawing of Moses Mendelssohn with pigtail wig 2. front and back of a bronze medal with black patina and bas-relief 3. black and white 90 Pfennig stamp of Deutsche Bundespost Berlin

Portrait of Moses Mendelssohn (1729–1786) by Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, 1775, bronze medal by Otto Illemann, 1929, and stamp with the portrait of Moses Mendelssohn, 1979, gift of Susanne Götze. Learn more about these and other Mendelssohn objects in our online collections (in German).

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 tells of Mendelssohn’s life in Berlin and shows him as a figure who integrated polarizing forces in the midst of historical upheaval and awakening.

14 Apr to 11 Sep 2022

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 presents 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.

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).

With the support of

LOTTO-Stiftung Berlin (Logo)

Exhibition Information at a Glance

  • When

    14 Apr to 11 Sep 2022

  • Entry fee

    8 €, reduced rate 3 €, children and young people under the age of 18 can enter free of charge. You can find more information on our price list.
    Ticket shop

  • Where

    Old Building, level 1
    Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin
    See Location on Map

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