FROM THE COLLECTIONS OF THE JEWISH MUSEUM IN PRAGUE
From 24 June–23 July, the Robert Guttmann Gallery hosted the
exhibition Laces from the Collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague.
The Museum’s diverse textile collections represent all the known textile
techniques and materials, including a number of items that are
ornamented with bobbin lace in various ways. These synagogue and
ceremonial textiles, garments and accessories, which were made over the
course of almost four centuries, have not been presented to the general
public and specialists until this year. The Museum prepared an
exhibition for the eleventh World Lace Congress in Prague, which was
organised by OIDFA (Organisation Internati-onale de la Dentelle au
Fuseau et # l’Aiguille). This exhibition marked the completion of a
several-year research into its collection of bobbin laces, which was
financially supported by the Czech Ministry of Culture.
exhibition also featured ceremonial textiles and garments, as well as
items made with a little-known technique called shpanyer arbet –
regarded as the only specifically Jewish textile technique.
The exhibition was accompanied by a catalogue, as well as a competition
for the best design and execution of the symbol of Judaism – the Star of
David, which was held by the Museum and the specialist journal Krajka
(Lace). Sixteen designs were assessed and the best of these were
displayed in the vestibule of the Robert Guttmann Gallery throughout the
duration of the exhibition.
From 11 August to 26 September 2004, the Museum hosted an
exhibition of work by the renowned US-Israeli artist, Mel Alexenberg.
Entitled Cyberangels, the exhibition was part of the series Jewish
Presence in Contemporary Visual Art, which is focused on exploring the
relation be-tween contemporary visual culture and Judaism. Now in its
second year, the series is held at the Museum’s Robert Guttmann Gallery.
One of the aims of Alexenberg’s experimental curatorial project, which
was conceived as an aesthetic peace plan for the Middle East, was to
contribute to the debate on the position and role of minorities in the
globalized media and visual art world.
Actively involving the viewer in the artwork by using modern technology,
the project supported the idea of plurality in art, dialogue and a
crossing of language and social barriers. The interactive gallery
installation included several computer stations from which visitors
could send out a mes-sage of peace in the form of a computer angel and
was supplemented with prints of art computer graphics that reflect the
current situation in Israel. The exhibition was held under the auspices
of Arthur Avnon, the Israeli Ambassador to the Czech Republic.
Mel Alexenberg is known to the wider public as the guest curator of the
legendary New York exhibition Lights-Orot in the year 1988. As part of
the exhibition, Mel Alexenberg presented four of his own projects, one
of which was the installation Rembrandt’s Light, which incorporated the
image of a computer angel taken from a Rembrandt etching. Since then,
Rembrandt angels have made frequent appearances in Alexenberg’s public
art events. In the Prague exhibition, the Rembrandt angels, symbols of
European culture, were given the role of peacemakers and mediators,
disseminating across the Internet a message that calls for a paradigm
shift in the way the Middle East conflict is perceived.
The exhibition included a talk by Mel Alexen-berg, as well as examples
of his other work. The entire project was prepared with the support of
the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity, an LA-based non-profit
educational institution. The curator was Michaela Hájková.
OF JEWISH SPORT IN THE DĚČÍN SYNAGOGUE
28 June saw the opening in the Děčín Synagogue of a new permanent
exhibition prepared by the Jewish Museum in Prague – The Past and
Present of Jewish Sport in the Czech Republic. This focuses on the more
than hundred year history of Jewish sport in Bohemian and Moravia and
its revival after 1990. At the exhibition opening, a speech was given by
Vladimír Poskočil, the representative of the Hakoach Sports Club,
President of the Jewish Community in Děčín and former Olympic javelin
The exhibition provides a brief overview of the development of the
Maccabi Association in Czechoslovakia and its various clubs in the 1920s
and 30s. Special attention is paid to Hagibor of Prague, Bar Kochba of
Brno and Maccabi of Moravská Ostrava, the activities of which are
documented in numerous photographs of athletic and gymnastic
competitions, swimming and winter sports. Rare archive photographs show
prominent representatives of Jewish sport in pre-war Czechoslovakia,
such as the tennis player Ladislav Hecht, the Czechoslovak swimming
representative Pavel Steiner and the Czechoslovak water polo
representative Kurt Epstein. Also documented are important events such
as the second Maccabi Winter Games in Bánská Bystrice, 1936. At that
time, the Maccabi Association in Czechoslovakia comprised 82 clubs and,
with more than 10,300 members, was one of the largest Jewish
organisations in the country.
A separate section of the Museum’s exhibition, which also received
financial support from the Museum’s Foundation, is on sport in the
Terezín ghetto, particularly football competitions that were temporarily
allowed. The final part of the exhibition provides an overview of
sporting events of the Prague Jewish Community’s Hakoach Sports Club.
Since the club’s reestablishment in 1990, most of these events have
taken place in Děčín.
The documentary photographs are accompanied by pre-war sports trophies
from the Museum’s collections. The curator is Dr. Arno Pařík.
OF TOMBSTONES IN PRAGUE’S JEWISH CEMETERIES
Work is continuing on the restoration of tombstones in the two
historic Jewish cemeteries in Prague which are in the care of the
In the 15th–18th century Old Jewish Ceme-tery, restoration work is
focusing on tombstones that have been selected by Museum staff after
assessing their physical state and damage level. Also, many tombstones
that came loose as a result of soft subsoil have been set into the
In the 17th–19th century Jewish cemetery in Fibichova Street, Prague 3,
the focus of the last few years has been on the urgent preservation of a
number of tombstones. This year, work began on the restoration of
prominent tombstones, starting with that of Rabbi Eleazar Fleckeles
(1754 – 1826). On the basis of existing photographic documentation, the
tombstone was returned to its original form, including part of a missing
Restoration work in these cemeteries is part of a long-term project that
is being carried out on the basis of detailed preparations concerning
restoration technology. This year’s work will be completed by the end of
MEETING OF THOSE INVOLVED IN THE MUSEUM’S PROJECT “NEIGHBOURS WHO
The Neighbours who Disappeared project is organised by the Museum’s
Education and Culture Centre for young people aged 12–18 (For more
information see Newsletters 4/2000 and 4/2001). It was launched for
Czech schools in 1999 as part of the Holocaust Phenomenon conference
under the auspices of the Office of the President of the Czech Republic.
Its objective is to make today's young generation aware of the fate of
those who disappeared from their neighbourhoods during the Second World
War. The students involved are to gather information from school and
district archives, interviews, documents and, in particular, from
personal meetings with Holocaust survivors and witnesses, and then to
write up literary-documentary reports.
On 23–26 June 2004, the Prague cinema Illusion hosted the second
international meeting of those involved in the Neighbours who
Disappeared project. This event was financially supported by the
International Visegrad Fund and was accompanied by a series of lectures
and discussions on the theme Anti-Semitism in Today’s World, which was
held as part of the Nine Gates Festival. Among those taking part were
the famous US historians on the Holocaust Daniel Goldhagen and Deborah
Lipstadt. The results of student work from 2000–2002 were featured in
twelve panels of the Museum’s exhibition Neighbours who Disappeared,
which were installed in the cinema lobby. Other panels featured the work
of high school students from Bilgoraj (Poland) Sahy (Hungary), Spišská
Nová Ves (Slovakia) and of high school students from the Czech towns of
Pilsen, Litomyšl, Soběslav, Libáň and Sokolov. The students looked round
the Jewish Museum in Prague and took part in a discussion at the
Education and Culture Centre where they described their methods of
gaining information about “neighbours who disappeared” and considered
other possibilities for the project.
Also involved in the project presentation in Prague, apart from the
Museum’s Education and Culture Centre, were the Warsaw-based Centre for
Citizenship Education and the Bratislava-based Milan Šimečka Foundation.
Students involved in the project were presented with certificate signed
by the writer Arnošt Lustig, the historian Deborah Lipstadt and the
Museum director Leo Pavlát.
FROM THE COLLECTIONS OF THE JEWISH MUSEUM IN PRAGUE
A catalogue was published for the exhibition Laces from the
Collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague, the result of a two-year
research project by Museum specialist staff. Containing 70 catalogue
items, it provides a cross-section of all the types of laces in the
Museum's textile collection. It is divided into three sections: laces on
synagogue textiles, shpanyer arbet, wedding covers and garments. As well
as detailed full-colour photographs, the catalogue also contains a
number of patterns and designs of historical laces dating from the
seventeenth century to the nineteenth.
The catalogue has 116 pages and over 100 illustrations. It can be
ordered by post from the Jewish Museum in Prague, via email
salesjewishmuseum.cz – or
via our website –
FILM “THE SHORT LIFE OF ANNE FRANK”
The Museum’s Education and Culture Centre has contributed to the
production of the Czech version of a documentary film about Anne Frank
that was made in 2003 by the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. This
half-hour film tells the story of Anne Frank and her family during the
Second World War. The makers of the documentary, Gerrit Netten and
Wouter van der Sluis, used archive documents, photographs from the Frank
Family albums and quotations from Anne’s diary. It also includes the
only film footage of Anne Frank. The film is dubbed into Czech by Boris
Rösner and Sandra Vebrová.
This film is shown by the Museum’s Education and Culture Centre to
schools as an effective educational tool for teaching about the history
of the Second World War.
– Luzius Wildhaber, President of the European Court of Human Rights
– Néstor Kirchner, President of Argentina
– Rabbi Joseph Kanofsky, Director of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation in
Poland, with a group of 40 students