Welcome to Jerusalem

Our Major Themed Exhibition

The Jerusalem cityscape; by  Berthold Werner (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Exhibition Welcome to Jerusalem

Synagogues, churches, and mosques shape our image of Jerusalem. The »Holy City« is an important center of faith for Jews, Christians, and Muslims from all over the world. Simultaneously, Jerusalem is home to extraordinary political tensions, claimed as the capital city by both Israelis and Palestinians.

11 December 2017 to 30 April 2019

Old Building, level 1

Lindenstraße 9–14, 10969 Berlin

From the age of the second temple to the Roman conquest, from Ottoman rule and the British mandate until the present day, the exhibition Welcome to Jerusalem investigates the history of a city where daily life, religion, and politics are inextricably interwoven. It includes precious objects and models that are on display for the first time in Berlin. They are complemented by media installations developed especially for the exhibition.

Works by Yael Bartana, Mona Hatoum, Gustav Metzger, Fazal Sheikh and other international artists respond to historical events and political standpoints. Interviews from the documentary 24h Jerusalem introduce visitors to a city that is remarkable and vibrant in every respect. Welcome to Jerusalem!

The Exhibition’s Themes – a Selection

We obviously don’t want to reveal everything before your visit. But here’s an overview of selected themes of the exhibition:

Each of the three monotheistic religions built monumental structures in Jerusalem that are revered as holy sites.

In the Jewish tradition, the primal events of the Bible - such as the covenant that God made with Abraham and his descendants - are thought to have occurred on the hill where the Temple would later stand. The Temple Mount is thus a site of God's eternal presence, a place where history will end and creation will be perfected.
Christians venerate the place of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, now covered by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, known to Orthodox Christians as the Church of the Resurrection.

The holy Muslim buildings are the Dome of the Rock, Islam's oldest shrine, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, its third most important house of prayer. Together, these form the precinct of Haram esh-Sharif, or "Noble Sanctuary," which many Muslims regard as a single sacred unity.

Jerusalem has been a major arena of the Middle East conflict for almost a century. Irreconcilable claims of Jews and Arabs to have their own state in Palestine led increasingly to conflicts between the two groups.

In 1947 the United Nations suggested partitioning the country, but this was not recognized by the Arab countries. During the subsequent war roughly half of the Palestinian population either fled or was driven out of the country. On May 14, 1948, Israel declared its independence and Jerusalem was divided up between Israel and Jordan.

In 1967, Israel took over also the eastern part of the city. Jerusalem then had a unified administration, but the Palestinian residents were not recognized as Israeli citizens, receiving only a residence permit for the city. Hopes for an end to the conflict have thus far been unsuccessful. The Peace Process in the 1990s failed primarily due to the issue of Jerusalem's political future.

Jerusalem is a city where frictions arise not only between different religions, but also between different, often contradictory, interpretations within these religions. The exhibition examines three Jewish groups as examples: the ultra-Orthodox Jews who reject certain aspects of the modern state of Israel as sacrilegious, the Women of the Wall, who want to establish a practice of egalitarian prayer at the Wailing Wall, and, finally, the Temple movements, some of which aim to build a third Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount. Their different demands and expectations have led to minor and major conflicts with other groups, denominations, and the Israeli state.

The exhibition expands its view of Jerusalem with works of contemporary artists.

This theme has been dealt with by artists of various backgrounds and spanning several generations. The earliest works date from the late 1990s, a time influenced by the Oslo Accords.

During this period, Mona Hatoum created Present Tense for a gallery in Jerusalem, in which she takes up the re-mapping of Palestine. Only a short time later, Gustav Metzger, founder of auto-destructive art, created Jerusalem, Jerusalem, a challenge to perceive historical events in a nuanced manner. The five portraits and landscapes in the Memory Trace series by Fazal Sheikh created a memory landscape of Jerusalem's periphery that has great suggestive force. The Vest of Prayers created by Andi LaVine Arnovitz was recently made, especially for the exhibition. Rounding out this section is Wolfgang Strassl's photo series on the settlement landscape around Jerusalem.

Nowhere else in the world does the density of houses of worship seem greater, nor the division of the population deeper. Although Jerusalem has had a unified administration since 1967, Jewish Israelis and Arab Palestinians live largely separate, either in the western or eastern part of the city. Almost half of the city's inhabitants have an income below the poverty level, including many Palestinians and ultra-orthodox Jews. But Jerusalem is much more than just conflict.

The real-time documentary 24h Jerusalem, by Volker Heise and Thomas Kufus, explores the everyday life of ninety Jerusalem residents who were filmed over the course of a single day. With the help of seventy camera teams, Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers, as well as documentary and feature film directors from Germany, an extensive work emerged that impressively reflects the city's diverse social fabric.

In order to capture the wide variety of moods, director Volker Heise let Palestinians and Israelis talk without commenting or offering judgments on the footage. The result is a kaleidoscope of biographical insights.

Jerusalem makes its presence felt in Berlin as well. The names of many Berlin churches allude to Jerusalem, whether Golgotha, the Holy Cross, Zion, or Gethsemane. Most of these churches were built in the nineteenth century, when public interest in the Holy Land was growing. The missionary idea was promoted at the highest level and was received enthusiastically in Berlin society. The Lutheran Jerusalem Association, founded in that period, is still active today.

But Jerusalem's roots in Berlin are deeper still. The history of the Jerusalem Church and of the district of Tempelhof ("Temple Court") goes back to the Crusades. There are also more recent references to the holy city: the residential complex New Jerusalem, the Bethany cultural center, the Golgotha beer garden. Academically, close links have been forged between the Free University Berlin and Jerusalem's Hebrew University.

Aside from Christian Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are constant companions for those Berliners who came here from Palestine. Especially in the Neukölln district, images of these sites adorn wall hangings, key rings, scarves, and posters in stores, cafés, snack bars, and private homes.

The film work Sabbath 2008 documents the closing down of the ultra-orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem, on the eve of the Sabbath. Temporary metal barriers are put in place by neighborhood residents, with the approval and support of the Jerusalem municipality and the police. Once the barriers are erected, no private or public cars are allowed in, thus create an artificial border between these areas and the rest of the city.
Although the value of these somewhat rickety barriers may appear above all symbolic, their presence is a source of friction and conflict; and seem to delineate a clear-cut boundary between the sacred and the mundane.

Supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (Logo)

With the kind support of LOTTO-Stiftung Berlin.

LOTTO-Stiftung Berlin (Logo)

The program accompanying the exhibition is supported by Siemens AG.

Media partners

WALL, arte, INFOradio, Yorck Kinogruppe, zitty, tip Berlin

Exhibition Information at a Glance

  • When

    11 December 2017 – 30 April 2019

  • Entry fee

    with the museum ticket (8 euros, reduced rate 3 euros)

  • Where

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


Old Building, level 1

Lindenstraße 9–14, 10969 Berlin

Tours and Workshops Accompanying the Exhibition (8) Program for Schools Show all

Program for Schools

Here you can find all the tours and workshops for schools that accompany the exhibition Welcome to Jerusalem (11 December 2017 to 30 April 2019).

Sacred Jerusalem

Guided tour on Jerusalem's religious significance, for children aged 6-11

Three Loaves and One Hallelujah

Tour and baking workshop, for children aged 6-11

Sacred Jerusalem

Guided tour on Jerusalem's religious significance, for students aged 10-19

Three Loaves and One Hallelujah

Tour and baking workshop, for students aged 10-14

Jerusalem: A Bibliodrama Approach

Workshop for school groups about Jerusalem and the Holy Scriptures, for students aged 14-19

Historic Jerusalem

Guided tour on Jerusalem's historical development, for children aged 10-11

Historic Jerusalem

Tour for students aged 10 to 19 about the major Jerusalem exhibition

Jerusalem in Conflict

Tour for students aged 14 to 19 about the major Jerusalem exhibition

Events Accompanying the Exhibition (14) Welcome to Jerusalem Show all

Welcome to Jerusalem

Readings, movies, lectures – events for adults, kids, and families during our exhibition Welcome to Jerusalem

Monday Movies: Du sollst nicht lieben (Eyes Wide Open)

26 November 2018, 7 pm
Feature film debut on homosexuality in a strictly religious environment.
Director: Haim Tabakman
Language: Hebrew with German subtitles

6 pm: Brief tour of the exhibition for visitors to Monday Movies

Monday Movies: Ink of Yam

24 September 2018
While the ink penetrates people’s skin, they tell their stories in the tattoo studio outside the city walls of Jerusalem.
Director: Tom Fröhlich
Language: Englisch, Hebrew, Arabic with German subtitles; Diskussion in German

6 pm: Brief tour of the exhibition for visitors to Monday Movies

Michael Sfard:
The Jerusalem Dispute. The Fight for Human Rights in Israeli Courts

6 September 2018, 7 pm
Lecture by Michael Sfard, one of Israel’s leading human rights lawyers (with video recording)

Monday Movies:
Three Days and a Child

4 June 2018, 7 pm
Directed by: Uri Zohar

6 pm: Brief tour of the exhibition for visitors to Monday Movies

Tom Segev: David Ben-Gurion

17 May 2018, 7.30 pm
Book Presentation and Discussion with the Author

Lives in Common: Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem

8 May 2018, 7 pm
Menachem Klein in Conversation with Cilly Kugelmann (with Video Recording)

Monday Movies: Berlin-Jerusalem

16 April 2018, 7 pm
Directed by Amos Gitai

A brief tour of the exhibition in German will be held for Monday Movie visitors at 6 pm. Admission with the museum ticket.

The Mazzah Bakery

5 April 2018, 11 am:
Guided tour and baking workshop for children aged 7 to 10 during the Berlin school break

Jerusalem in Conflict

17 March 2018, 11 am
Public tour for adults on the political conflicts in and around the city of Jerusalem (in German)

Rechavia – Grunewald in the Orient

28 February 2018, 7 pm
Reading with Thomas Sparr on German-Jewish Jerusalem (with Audio Recording; in German)

Monday Movie:
Jerusalem for Cowards

19 February 2018, 7 pm
Film screening and discussion with the directors Dalia Castel and Orit Nahmias (with Audio Recording of the discussion)

Who is carrying the Menorah?

8 February 2018, 6 pm
Talk by Steven Fine on Jewish Counter-Histories of the Arch of Titus Spoils Panel (with Audio Recording)

Three Loaves and One Hallelujah

8 February 2018, 11 am
For children aged 7 to 10 during the Berlin school holidays

Concert: A Prelude to the New Exhibition

6 December 2017, 8 pm
Jordi Savall with the Hespèrion Ensemble XXI and the Capella Reial de Catalunya