The Jewish Museum Berlin’s New Children’s Museum
Berlin is getting a new children’s museum. It will be taking shape in the next few months directly opposite the Jewish Museum Berlin. With the Children’s Museum, we are creating a place for our youngest guests – kids between the ages of three and ten – to explore, investigate, and play.
The whole museum centers on Noah’s Ark. According to tradition, the Ark was an enormous boat in which Noah rescued his family and all species then in existence from the Great Flood. We are building a huge round Ark of our own, which will be populated by many animals. The children can board it, climb on it, and explore it for themselves.
Tales of an ark and a rescue from a Great Flood appear in various religious traditions. We want to use these stories to think about big global questions with children: How would you imagine a better world? What values matter to you? We encourage the children to take initiative and to take responsibility for their future.
On the Ark
The Ark is home to many animals of all sizes, both popular animals and outsiders. We invite the children to interact with them: say hi to them, take care of them, and contribute to their wellbeing.
Selected artists are creating around 200 animals out of recycled materials. The animal sculptures can be used in many ways: as climbing frames, lounge chairs, or places to sit. Some of the animals can even make noise.
Not-so-beloved animals are also present on the Ark, communicating respect, openness, and tolerance for everything that might at first seem strange and unfamiliar. Endangered and extinct species draw attention to environmental issues, their consequences, and possibilities for acting on them.
The museum also includes several workshop rooms and studios, where the children can be creative, make music or theater, and create something together.
The Children’s Museum and its programs follow the approach of “early excellence,” which emphasizes the importance of encouraging and educating children even before they start school. With the Children’s Museum, we aim to create an attractive environment for families with small children right in the middle of the city. Its location in our immediate neighborhood is especially important to us. We initiate collaborative partnerships and make connections with other institutions to create an open, family-friendly, and culturally diverse meeting place.
Children as Advisors
A dedicated Children’s Advisory Council has played an active role in shaping the new museum’s deveopment. The advisory council consists of children between the ages of eight and eleven.
In regular meetings, the children put forward their wishes for the museum and its educational programming. We discuss, develop, dream up, and discard new ideas. The workshops are designed and conducted using cultural education methods with the involvement of outside artists.
The Cildren's Advisory Council
We are also thinking about sustainability in our construction of the Children’s Museum. The load-bearing walls and ceilings are made of regional, sustainable raw materials, primarily wood. We have also largely forgone a mechanical air ventilation system, opting for a concept of natural air circulation instead.
The Children’s Museum is being created in collaboration with the Seattle-based agency Olson Kundig Architecture and Exhibit Design. Olson Kundig has a worldwide reputation for its innovative exhibition and educational concepts.
The Jewish Museum Berlin would like to thank all its supporters for their trust and their generosity.