Two guides during a tour

In Tandem Through Jerusalem

The Jewish Museum Berlin Takes a Stance

In this project, museum guides with personal connections to Jerusalem have been trained as tandem guides. They now lead visitors through the Welcome to Jerusalem exhibition in groups of two guides per tour. Their dialogue exposes fresh perspectives on the city.

Origins of the Project

“Let’s do an exhibition on Jerusalem,” we said a few years ago. The initial reactions ranged all the way from “Of course, we’re a Jewish Museum!” to “Wow – that could get politically tricky!” and “What stance on Jerusalem will we take?”

In preparation for the Welcome to Jerusalem exhibition, our Education department set out to make the city’s complex history and its religious significance tangible to visitors. The exhibition provides aesthetic, artistic, media-based, and historical approaches to Jerusalem and includes some impressive artifacts. Political perspectives are in the mix; how much so depends on who you ask.

The exhibition incorporates Jewish-Israeli, Palestinian-Israeli, Christian, and Muslim attitudes. To illustrate the divergent and diverse perspectives on Jerusalem, we also sought to show personal views of the city. We wanted visitors to get an opportunity to meet people for whom Jerusalem holds personal significance. Dr. Diana Dressel, Head of the Education Department, says: “We would love to provide several perspectives to complement the exhibition, but a minimum of two: two people with their own relationships to this complex, frequently discussed, and diverse city.”

Two guides and visitors during a tour

Two guides during a tandem tour; Jewish Museum Berlin; photo: Erik Schiemann

Training as a Tandem Guide

Together with Prof. Susan Kamel, the department of Museum Management and Education at HTW Berlin, and the trainers Shemi Shabat and Mohammed Ibrahim, the Jewish Museum Berlin offered a training course to become a museum guide. The call for applications was directed at both professional guides and interested first-timers who would like to talk to visitors about the exhibition. These were people whose lives were connected to the city of Jerusalem. We were not necessarily looking for religious perspectives or dichotomous Israeli/Palestinian pairings. What we wanted was a diversity of views on the city: biographical, artistic, religious, utopian, wishful, and political viewpoints full of individuality.

Forty-one people applied for the HTW program, nineteen began the training course that ran from November 2017 to March 2018, and seventeen completed the course, which included a trial tour of the exhibition Welcome to Jerusalem at the Jewish Museum Berlin.

Looking back, Dr. Diana Dressel says, “All of us – participants, trainers, and employees of the HTW and the Jewish Museum Berlin – learned so much: teamwork as a flexible tandem. Enjoying dialogue, learning from mistakes. And that everyone’s favorite thing is talking about the specific objects in the exhibition that bring out our own emotions or memories.”

Tours for the Public and Group Tours

The tour is offered in the following formats (in German):

All tours are led by two guides who will show you around the Welcome to Jerusalem exhibition and tell you about their personal Jerusalem.

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