Unpacking Donations

Behind the Scenes at the Archives

Family collections are invaluable for the Jewish Museum Berlin. Such collections teach us about family history and life stories and make German-Jewish history tangible and personal. But how do family collections actually reach the museum?

This January, when a courier service arrived at the museum with thirteen boxes, our Archive staff was ecstatic – and the excitement rose as each new parcel was opened. The boxes contained gifts from twenty-four people whom Aubrey Pomerance had visited during a two-week trip to California. What mementos, what treasures would we unwrap? What stories would we find beneath these objects?

For many years, the Museum's Archive Director has been in close contact with German-Jewish émigrés, Holocaust survivors, and their descendants around the world. These relationships are very important to the museum. Not only do families bequeath generous gifts to the museum, but they also share with us much of the knowledge about their history preserved in family tradition. This is an important requirement for us to add donated material to our collections.

Unwrapping gifts and donations is something all Archive staff members look forward to – and we are especially delighted about an object that closes a gap, complements or continues a story from our existing collections, or is simply unusual and surprising. Watch us unwrap!