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Press release
Prague, 24 September, 2008


Jarmila Mařanová
KAFKA AND PRAGUE

The exhibition runs from 25 September 2008 until 4 January 2009
every day except for Saturdays and Jewish holidays from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.
 
Jewish Museum in Prague – Robert Guttmann Gallery
U Staré školy 3, Prague 1 (rear tract of the Spanish Synagogue), tel. +420 221 711 553
 

Exhibition curator:
Arno Pařík
 
Jarmila Mařanová is among the first Czech artists to have dealt with Shoah victims in their work. She is also one of the few artists to have continually focused on illustrating literary works by Franz Kafka; her Kafka-inspired artwork remains among the best of its kind. In 2006 she gave the Jewish Museum in Prague 54 of her earliest Kafka monotypes. To mark her 86th birthday, this collection is now being shown at the Robert Guttmann Gallery, along with her other work from the collections of the Jewish Museum, the City of Prague Gallery and the Terezín Memorial. This exhibition is an acknowledgement of thanks to Jarmila Mařanová for her generous gift and an expression of the respect and recognition for this artist, whose lifelong work is so closely connected with the fate of Prague Jews and the Jewish Museum in Prague.
 
From 1939 Mařanová studied textile and glass design at Prague’s School of Decorative Arts. After the war she focused on graphic/advertising design. In her early work she tried to come to terms with the fate of her mother, grandma and cousin, who perished in Treblinka and Auschwitz. Her studies and paintings on this topic were exhibited in her first one-person show in Warsaw in April 1963, marking the 20th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Mařanová began to work on her Kafka series at the beginning of the 1960s. She transformed Kafka’s existentially tinged stories into images that compellingly evoke the atmosphere of old Prague; the structure of her monotypes is reminiscent of the walls of old buildings, from which hidden images and faces emerge. Her ghostly figures move about in the streets of Prague as if in delirium or hover above as if in a dream, lending a surrealistic quality to her work. Her Kafka illustrations were first exhibited in the Spanish Synagogue at Prague’s Jewish Museum in 1965 and were later shown in a number of exhibitions across Germany, Austria, France, Holland, Norway and the U.S. In addition to illustrating The Trial, Mařanová also made monotypes for the short stories A Country Doctor, Trapeze Artist and A Hunger Artist, for Kafka’s letters to Milena and for his aphorisms and diary notes.
After the 1968 occupation, Mařanová found a theme for a new series of prints in the Book of Job. To her, Job’s fate projected an image of human existence; his difficult ordeals and undeserved fate convey an archetypal picture of all the human tragedies that Mařanová had dealt with earlier. In marked contrast to the latter series is a set of lithographs for Solomon’s Song of Songs, dating from 1973–74 and inspired by a visit to Israel in 1968. In the early years of normalization (1972/73), Mařanová made a series of 30 lithographs, loosely illustrating The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart, which was written in 1623 by John Amos Comenius in a similarly hopeless political and personal situation.
In 1976 Mařanová emigrated to the United States, where she again became preoccupied with Kafka, in 1977/78 making a series of monotypes for his novel America. Adapting with difficulty to her new environment, she found in Kafka’s America a description of young Karl Rossmann’s similarly traumatic encounter with the New World. Later on, she started to focus on motifs from Kafka’s The Castle, which describes the absurd situation of the land surveyor K. in an alien and incomprehensible world. In 1982/83 Mařanová illustrated Kafka’s The Trial and The Castle for bibliophile editions published by Franklin Library in Philadelphia and New York, for which in 1984 she received four awards from leading American graphic design and art associations. So far Mařanová has had about 45 one-person shows across the world. She returned to the Jewish Museum in Prague in 1993, presenting a large exhibition of work she had done in exile in the U.S. She now lives in the town of Sandpoint in Idaho, where on 8 September 2008 she celebrated her 86th birthday.
 
A catalogue has been published for the exhibition >>>
 
Images relating to the exhibition can be downloaded at: http://194.228.42.89/zmp/maranovapress/
 
For more information, please contact:
Noemi Holeková
Tel. 221 711 581; 603 867 285
E-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
www.jewishmuseum.cz

 

Press release
Prague, May 28, 2008


THE UNKNOWN MICHEL FINGESTEN
Paintings, Prints and Ex Libris from the Ernst Deeken Collection

The exhibition runs from 29 May until 31 August 2008
every day except for Saturdays and Jewish holidays from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.
 
Jewish Museum in Prague – Robert Guttmann Gallery
U Staré školy 3, Prague 1 (rear tract of the Spanish Synagogue), tel. +420 221 711 553
 

Exhibition curator:
Arno Pařík
 
One of the most well-known graphic artists in pre-war Berlin, Michel Fingesten (1884–1943) is almost forgotten today. This is a long-term consequence of Nazi persecution in the 1930s, which banned, isolated and drove into exile such artists. Thousands of their artworks were taken out of public collections and destroyed or illicitly sold abroad.
Fingesten’s work and memory have been kept alive thanks to the efforts of private ex-libris and graphic art collectors who knew and praised his work before the war. Besides its artistic qualities, collectors are still attracted to the rich imagination, humour, playfulness and diverse symbolism of Fingesten’s work, as well as the at times macabre and erotic elements that constitute part of his artistic expression. In the course of thirty years he made almost 1,000 ex-libris, in which he made imaginative use of various modern styles, including Art Nouveau symbolism, Cubism and Expressionism, Poetism and Surrealism. A selection of these works from the Ernst Deeken Collection is on display in the Robert Guttmann Gallery.

 
Michel Fingesten (originally Michl Finkelstein) was born on 18 April 1884 in the village of Bučkovice (Buczkowitz) in Silesia (now the Frýdek-Místek district in the Czech Republic). At the age of 16, Michel left to study at the Vienna Academy of Art. For reasons that are unclear, however, he left the academy after two years and went to America, where he spent four years travelling. In 1907 Fingesten landed in Palermo and walked all the way to Munich, where he studied with the painter Franz Stuck. After a year, however, he was again struck with wanderlust. This time he headed for Hong Kong and for another four years he drifted through Chinese and Japanese waters. He returned to Europe in 1912. In 1913, after a brief stay in Paris, he finally settled in Berlin.
Fingesten’s first exhibition in 1918 attracted great attention. The art critic Paul Friedrich published a monograph on his graphic work in 1920. In the following years he made a number of graphic albums, illustrations for books, and portraits; he worked for film and theatre. He cooperated with artistic magazines, such as Marsyas (1917–1919) or Künstler-Selbsthilfe. In 1927–1928 Fingesten went to Spain where he discovered the Spanish landscape and made a number of atmospheric paintings in unusual colours, which can also be seen in the Robert Guttmann Gallery.
Although Fingesten was never politically active, he was particularly sensitive to the rise of nationalism and Nazi propaganda. His work was attacked by the Nazis early on and designated as ‘entartete Kunst’ (degenerate art). Michel Fingesten planned to leave for Prague at the end of 1935. Things didn’t work out, however, and it was not until 1936 that he left for Italy. Despite the increasingly difficult conditions of his life, Fingesten’s graphic art in Italy was among his best, producing some 500 prints. Foreseeing the threat of war in late 1938, Fingesten expressed his outrage in a series of etchings Essai de Dance Macabre (Essay on the Dance Macabre) which convey a vision of the imminent catastrophe. The second series of etchings and dry points, Kleine Randbemerkungen zum Thema Krieg (Small Marginal Notes on the Theme of War, 1939/40), is among the most challenging of Fingesten’s works in terms of content.
Anti-Jewish laws were also introduced in Italy with the outbreak of war. Fingesten was arrested on 9 October 1940 and interned as a Jew in the Civitella del Tronto camp in the province of Teramo. His last woodcuts – simple prints in oil colours – date mainly from 1941 and are among Fingesten’s most beautiful graphic works. They too are on display in the gallery. In November 1941, Fingesten was transferred to the Ferramonti-Tarsia camp near the town of Cosenza in Cabria where living conditions were very difficult. The Ferramonti-Tarsia camp was liberated by the British army on 14 September 1943. Shortly afterwards, Fingesten sustained an injury and was transferred to a hospital in Cosenca. After the operation he developed a wound infection from which he died on 8 October 1943. He was buried in a cemetery in Cerisano.
 
A catalogue has been published for the exhibition >>>
 
Images relating to the exhibition can be downloaded at: http://194.228.42.89/zmp/fingestenpress/
 
For more information, please contact:
Noemi Holeková
Tel. 221 711 581; 603 867 285
E-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
www.jewishmuseum.cz

 

Press release
Prague, February 6, 2008


HELLA GUTH
Dissolved Figures

The exhibition runs from 7 February until 27 April 2008 every day except for Saturdays and Jewish holidays:
February 7 – March 28 from 9 a.m. until 4.30 p.m.,
March 30 – April 27 from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.
 
Jewish Museum in Prague – Robert Guttmann Gallery
U Staré školy 3, Prague 1 (rear tract of the Spanish Synagogue), tel. +420 221 711 553
 

Exhibition curator:
Arno Pařík
 
Hella Guth (1908–1992) studied in Prague in the 1930s, where she spent part of her youth. Most of her work, however, was created in the difficult conditions of exile and in the face of international competition in London and Paris. Thanks to her diligence and talent, however, Guth managed to achieve relatively widespread acclaim not only in the 1950s and 60s but also in recent times, which have seen a rediscovery of her work in several galleries in France and Germany.
The first ever solo exhibition in Prague of Guth’s works is being held at the Robert Guttmann Gallery for the 100th anniversary of the artist’s birth. This show provides a cross-section of her exceptionally high-quality life-long work. It presents Guth as a person for whom “art provided a sense of unity within a broken world that was increasingly disintegrating into fragments. This was not a purely negative development, however, for the disintegration of the world also involved the discovery of new, more general connections to which Guth had always been receptive,” says the exhibition curator Arno Pařík.

 
Hella Guth was born on the 16th of February 1908 in Kostelní Bříza (Kirchenbirk) near Sokolov (Falkenau) in western Bohemia. From 1926 she attended the School of Applied Arts in Vienna and in 1930 she enrolled in Willi Nowak’s painting studio at the Prague Academy. After just one year, however, she broke off her studies, preferring an independent path. She earned her living by drawing illustrations for various Czech and German newspapers. In 1933, she made her supreme graphic work – a series of woodcuts for ten songs from Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera; which was praised by the press. The exhibition at the Robert Guttmann Gallery features a number of Guth’s woodcuts and drawings from the second half of the 1920s and the mid-1930s. From the beginning of 1933 Guth was actively involved in the activities of the leftist émigrés in Prague; she worked with the publishers of the anti-Fascist satirical weekly Simplikus/Simpl and became a member of the German theatre troupe Studio 34. From the mid-1930s she focused mainly on painting. Around this time she painted several vivid portraits and, in particular, still lifes with distinct cubist features. Her paintings were shown at a group show with Prager Secession.
After the Nazi occupation of the Czech lands in March 1939 Guth sailed to England via Poland. In 1942 she received a scholarship from the Czechoslovak government-in-exile and in June 1943 she had her first one-person show at the Czechoslovak Institute in London, where she exhibited over 30 works – drawings, watercolours, gouaches and several surrealistic oil paintings. Her war-time surrealistic works, which are also on view at the Robert Guttmann Gallery, were a response to the oppressive experiences of escape, life in exile, air raids in London and fears for her family’s fate in occupied Czechoslovakia.
In 1951 Guth moved to Paris, where she had success with her first show. Between 1954 and 1959 she had regular exhibitions at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles. In 1958 she was awarded the silver medal Prix Suisse de Peinture Abstraite and she also began to sell her artwork to museums. The early paintings from Guth’s Paris period reveal her tendency towards linear geometric abstraction. Dating from this period is the painting Dissolved Figures (1952), after which the show at the Robert Guttmann Gallery is named. From 1954 onwards her style began to loosen up, which is particularly evident in her pastels. From about the mid-1960s, figurative elements appeared in her paintings, as if emerging from the depths of the dark layers of paint. At the end of 1970s, Guth moved towards a completely loose gestural style, although she retained her characteristic graphic expression. At the end of the 70s, an eye disease forced Guth to give up painting for a while. In 1981, however, she began a new creative period in which she focused on drawing and collage. She later exhibited again in Paris (1986), Kiel (1989) Soest (1990) and Lyon (1991).
Hella Guth remained creative until the last days of her life. She died in Paris in 1992 at the age of 84. Her paintings are in many private and public collections in France, England, the USA, Switzerland, Germany and Israel. Some of them are also in the collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague.
 
A catalogue has been published for the exhibition.
 
Images relating to the exhibition can be downloaded at: http://194.228.42.89/zmp/guthpress/
 
For more information, please contact:
Noemi Holeková
Tel. 221 711 581; 603 867 285
E-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
www.jewishmuseum.cz

 

Press release
Prague, January 15, 2008



CAMPAIGN OF THE EDUCATION AND CULTURE CENTRE OF THE JEWISH MUSEUM IN PRAGUE ON EDUCATION AGAINST RACISM AND XENOPHOBIA

Posters with eight different texts are placed on showcases in the city and on a few pillars in Prague centre (so called Citylights) from January 15th until February 11th, 2008.
 
It is a repeating of last year’s successful campaign, which is addressed mainly to young people who know nothing or only very little about the persecution of Jews between 1939 and 1945 and it has been devised as a contribution to the education towards racial tolerance and against xenophobia. In a striking and unusual way the campaign draws attention to Nazi anti-Semitism and to the phenomenon of gradual and creeping offset of the suppression of basic human rights and liberties that may end in genocide. Posters have the same simple and noticeable design: striking yellow texts based on the wording of the bans and restricting regulations aimed against Jews from the period of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia printed on black background. The texts are updated to reflect the present situation and they play on irony – e. g. „Bald persons are forbidden to visit public libraries“. A small print, legible only from short distance then explains that such absurd bans were once really in force on our territory and they applied to Jews.
 
For more information, please contact:
Miroslava Ludvíková
Tel. +420 222 325 172
E-mail: [email] miroslava.ludvikova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
www.jewishmuseum.cz

 

Press release
Prague, October 31, 2007


FRIEDRICH FEIGL (1884–1965)
Paintings, Drawings and Graphic Art

1 November 2007 – 20 January 2008
Open daily 9 a.m. – 4.30 p.m., except Saturdays and Jewish holidays
 
Jewish Museum in Prague – Robert Guttmann Gallery
U Staré školy 3, Prague 1 (rear tract of the Spanish Synagogue), tel. 221 711 553
 

Exhibition curator:
Arno Pařík
 
Although Friedrich Feigl was one of the founders of Czech modern art and initiated a number of art exhibitions, his work is almost unknown in the Czech Republic. To date, he has received little critical attention among Czech art historians. The lack of interest in Feigl’s art in the Czech Republic is usually put down to his leaving for Berlin and distancing himself from the Czech cultural scene. This is true only to a point. The fact is that Feigl remained in permanent contact with Prague and with friends from the Osma [Eight] generation, often returned to his hometown and helped Czech artists establish links with the European art scene. The exhibition in the Robert Guttmann Gallery marks the 100th anniversary of the Osma’s first exhibition and 70th anniversary of Feigl’s last show in Prague in 1937.
 
Friedrich Feigl attended the Prague Academy of Art in 1904–05 with professors Bukovanec and Roubalík, but was expelled in the spring of 1905 for protesting against the school’s traditional methods. After studying in Antwerp and Paris, he returned to Prague, where he met other young artists at the Café Union. This is where the decision was made to hold a group exhibition with the title Osma. As noted by the exhibition curator Arno Pařík: “The young artists sought to break with the dogma of the imitation of nature and were wrestling with the new problems of colour and form. Their first show opened in April 1907, with work by Feigl, Max Horb, Willy Nowak, Emil Filla, Arnošt Procházka, Bohumil Kubišta, Otakar Kubín and Emil Pittermann. The exhibition caused a scandal in Prague; the only positive critique was from Max Brod.”
In 1910, Feigl married and moved to Berlin, where he took part in the exhibitions of the Neue Sezession in 1911 and 1912. His first one-man show was in 1912 at the Gallery of J. B. Neumann. He then focused on graphic art, illustrating books by Dostoevsky and an anthology of Jewish writers (Das Ghettobuch). In 1921 he completed a set of lithographs for a Prague Ghetto album. In February 1922, he took part in an exhibition of graphic art by Jewish artists at Lucerna Palace in Prague, and illustrated Balzac’s novel Gobseck. He also made aquatint and dry point etchings on biblical themes, which are among his most accomplished prints. In February 1930 he took part in the unique Exhibition of 19th and 20th Century Jewish Artists, which was held in the Fénix Palace on Wenceslas Square and organised by his brother Hugo.
In December 1932, Feigl left for Palestine to work on illustrations for an anthology of Prague Jewish stories. “The Jewish holy sites and their present-day life left a deep impression on him, helping to loosen up and animate his painting style. He returned to Prague from the Holy Land with a series of paintings, watercolours and studies whose motifs were never to disappear entirely from his subsequent work. Originally focusing on graphic art, Feigl became more of painter in Bohemia after his trip to Palestine,” says the exhibition curator. His last Prague show was held in 1937 in his brother Hugo’s Prague gallery, where he exhibited 34 paintings of Palestine and Prague motifs.
Feigl was still in Prague at the time of the German invasion in March 1939. He and his wife tried to get to England but were arrested in Germany and interned in a concentration camp. They reached London only after the intervention of the Artist’s Refugee Committee and the British Consulate. From the outset Feigl was involved in the artistic life of London-based exiles from Czechoslovakia. He continued to paint, mainly English landscapes and mythological motifs, but also his favourite biblical themes and scenes from street-side cafés. He regularly took part in group shows at London’s Ben Uri Art Gallery, which exhibited his work for his 75th and 80th birthdays in 1959 and 1964. Friedrich Feigl died on the 17th of December 1965 in London, a few months before his 82nd birthday.
 
A catalogue has been published for the exhibition.
 
Images relating to the exhibition can be downloaded at: http://194.228.42.89/zmp/feiglpress/
 
For more information, please contact:
Noemi Holeková
Tel. 221 711 581; 603 867 285
E-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
www.jewishmuseum.cz

 

Press release
Prague, August 8, 2007


“HOPE IS ON THE NEXT PAGE”
100 Years of the Library of the Jewish Museum in Prague

9 August – 21 October 2007
Open daily 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., except Saturdays and Jewish holidays
 
Jewish Museum in Prague – Robert Guttmann Gallery
U Staré školy 3, Prague 1 (rear tract of the Spanish Synagogue), tel. 221 711 553
 

Exhibition curator:
Michal Bušek
 
“Hope is on the next page. Don’t close the book.
I’ve turned every page and have not met hope.
The book may be the hope.”
Edmond Jabés: From the Book to the Book
 
This newly opened exhibition in the Robert Guttmann Gallery follows on from the Jewish Museum in Prague’s centenary celebrations in 2006. It focuses on the 100-year history of the museum’s library and celebrates the important personalities who helped to shape it – from its inception through to its most recent projects. The curator Michal Bušek says that “this show is the first detailed look at the history of the Jewish Museum in Prague’s library, which is now a fully functional and modern institution not only with a comprehensive collection of Judaica and Hebraica from Bohemia. On display for the first time are archive records on the library’s history, period photographs and profiles on Tobias Jakobovits and Otto Muneles. Visitors can also find out about the Library of the Prague Jewish Religious Community and the Central Library in Terezín.”
The story of the museum’s library begins in 1858 with the founding of the Library of the Prague Jewish Religious Community, which opened in 1874 under the supervision of Nathan Grün. This now constitutes the historic core of the museum’s book collection. The Jewish Museum in Prague (1906–1940) was founded in 1906 in connection with the clearance of the Prague ghetto, and books formed an integral part of its collections. Only a fragment of the library holdings of the pre-war museum, however, have been preserved. During the Second World War, the Central Jewish Museum (1942–1945) acquired about 46,000 books and sheet music from the abolished Jewish communities, as well as a part of the Central Library in Terezín. Following the museum’s nationalization during the Communist regime, the library came under strict supervision. A collection of forbidden books (prohibita) had to be put together during the period of normalisation. Fortunately for the museum, it was able to keep this material and to return it to the collections after the revolution of 1989. After the museum’s collections had been returned to the Federation of Jewish Religious Communities in the Czech Republic in 1994, the library became an independent department, new depositories were built for it and the catalogued book collections became fully accessible to the public. In addition, the museum opened a study room with a reference library and an air-conditioned research area for the study of old texts, as well as a reference centre (also with a reference library) for the general public.
In addition to tracing the history of the museum’s library, this exhibition also highlights the connected fate of key Jewish figures who shaped the form of the library over the years. The curator adds that “The museum’s founder, Salomon Hugo Lieben, met the librarian of the Prague Jewish Community, Tobias Jakobovits in the Central Jewish Museum. Together with M. Woskin-Nahartabi, who later became a member of the Talmudkommando (a group of experts cataloguing Hebrew printed books) in Terezín, Jakobovits catalogued items that were shipped to the museum. The Talmudkommando was led by Lieben’s former colleague from the Prague Burial Society, Otto Muneles, who later became the head of the library section in the post-war Jewish Museum in Prague.”
The Library of the Jewish Museum in Prague, which now contains as many as 135,000 volumes, is a place where the past encounters the present and where the works of those who died long ago remain alive. This exhibition presents the library as an institution that seeks to be a place where the tradition, wisdom and knowledge of past generations are encountered in a lively dialogue with the readers and researchers of the present.

 
A catalogue has been published for the exhibition.

 

Images relating to the exhibition can be downloaded at: http://194.228.42.89/zmp/knihovna_press/


 
For more information, please contact:
Noemi Holeková
Tel. 221 711 581; 603 867 285
E-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
www.jewishmuseum.cz

 

Press release
May 2, 2007


“SINCE THEN I BELIEVE IN FATE …”
Transports of Protectorate Jews to Poland, 1941–1942
 
From May 3 until July 22, 2007

Open daily 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. except for Saturdays and Jewish holidays
 
Jewish Museum in Prague – Robert Guttmann Gallery
U Staré školy 3, Prague 1 (rear wing of the Spanish Synagogue), tel. 221 711 553
 
Exhibition curator: Dr. Jana Šplíchalová
 
Following on from the first part of the exhibition Since then I believe in fate, which was hosted by the Jewish Museum in 2005 and which dealt with the deportations of Czech Jews to the Baltic States in the first half of 1942, this new show focuses on the fate of the transports that took thousands of prisoners to the occupied territory of Poland in 1941–1942.
Period documents contain very little direct information on the physical liquidation of the Jewish populations in occupied territories. The relevant orders were concealed through the use of euphemistic terms or codes and most were issued verbally; this applies, for example, to “Operation Reinhard” on Polish territory and to the activities of the Einsatzgruppen (death squads) in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union. This exhibition shows the events through the eyes of some of the few prisoners who survived and who have been able to provide testimony. There were a number of transports without a single survivor. In many cases, all we know about the fate of the Czech Jews is from the testimonies of inmates of other nationalities, as well as from the testimonies of former SS members. This exhibition tells the stories of people who became the victims of tragic and cruel events and who witnessed humiliations and the complete loss of human dignity. The archive documents and period photographs on display are supplemented by film footage of interviews with witnesses and survivors.
The Jewish Museum plans to present the third part of the exhibition Since then I believe in fate in the Robert Guttmann Gallery in 2009; this will focus on the transports of Protectorate Jews to Belarus in 1941–1942.
 

The Nazi policy of “the final solution of the Jewish question” entered its final phase in the summer of 1941, particularly in connection with the war’s developments. The previous restrictions and discriminatory measures against the Jews, which had led to their impoverishment and separation from society, the first small-scale murders and expulsions were a mere prelude to the tragedy that awaited them. The establishment of a new German Reich and the acquisition of “living space” for the German nation could not have occurred without the enslavement and, subsequently, the physical liquidation of the so-called inferior races, notably the Jews. The gradual destruction of these people culminated in their liquidation on an industrial scale. The extermination centres meant one thing – death.
The systematic deportation of Jews from the territory of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia began in October 1941, when five transports were shipped from Prague to the Lodz ghetto. Many did not survive the cruel conditions of the ghetto and a number of prisoners became victims of the “evacuations” to Chelmno, where they were murdered in mobile gas vans. Only 282 of the deportees returned home.
Named in honour of Reinhard Heydrich, “Operation Reinhard” was the code name for the physical liquidation initially of the Polish Jews and then of the Jewish population that had been deported from the occupied countries of Central, Western and part of Southern Europe. Specific localities were chosen as transit ghettoes en route to death. Their selection was not by random: they were small towns that were situated on railway routes leading to the extermination camps. The Polish ghettoes of Izbica, Piaski, Rejowiec and Zamość were the destination for transports from the Protectorate. In their testimonies, Czech Jewish survivors all describe the backwardness of the local communities and the cultural distinctness of the local populations and the new arrivals, as well as highlighting the atrocious living conditions, hunger, dirt and disease. Only the young and healthy inmates were able to survive temporarily by getting selected for hard labour in various camps in the Lublin district. These were mainly waterworks camps with particular focus on land amelioration. Other small groups of prisoners worked on construction sites and in various manufacturing workshops and factories.
The mentally and physically handicapped, the terminally ill and concentration camp inmates became victims in the “euthanasia institutions”, which were set up in the territory of the Reich in 1940–1941. These were the first mass killing sites to be tested. This method of mass murder was gradually perfected and implemented in the extermination centres in the territories of occupied Poland and the former Soviet Union.
Thousands of Czechs perished in Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Majdanek, Treblinka and Auschwitz. About 38,010 people were deported on thirty transports from the Protectorate between October 1941 and October 1942. Only 349 of these survived.
Many prisoners died as a result of the cruel living conditions, and many of them were gratuitously shot. The sick, the elderly and mothers with small children had almost no chance of survival; most of them were murdered in the gas chambers.
This was not, however, a nameless mass of people. Each person had their own name, face and fate. It was a life deprived of childhood, toys and, above all, love, work satisfaction, family and friendship. Perhaps these cruel stories will cause us to stop and think and to realize the true values that supersede time, death and destruction.
 
Images from the exhibition can be downloaded at http://194.228.42.89/zmp/transporty_press

 
For more information, please contact:
Noemi Holeková
Tel. 221 711 581; 603 867 285
E-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
www.jewishmuseum.cz

 

Press release
February 14, 2007


THE KOLBEN FAMILY STORY
 
From February 15 untill April 15, 2007

Open daily 9 a.m. – 4.30 p.m. except for Saturdays and Jewish holidays
 
Jewish Museum in Prague – Robert Guttmann Gallery
U Staré školy 3, Prague 1 (rear wing of the Spanish Synagogue), tel. 221 711 553
 
Exhibition curator: Dr. Arno Pařík
 
The new exhibition at the Robert Guttmann Gallery focuses on several members of the Kolben family. The most famous is Emil Kolben, the engineer, inventor and founder of what became the engineering company Českomoravská-Kolben-Daněk (ČKD), whose 110th anniversary was commemorated last year. His brother Alfred and son Hanuš were also engineers, as well as highly talented painters. Their paintings are on display for the very first time in this show. And then there is Emil’s grandson Jindřich who, despite his dramatic fate during the war and difficult position in post-war society, became an outstanding expert in the design and dynamics of aircraft engines, thus continuing the Kolben family tradition. Jindřich Kolben tells his story and that of his family in a Czech Television documentary which can be viewed at this exhibition.
 
This exhibition focuses on the life and work of several members of the Kolben family. The most famous member is Emil Kolben (1862–1943), a graduate of the Prague Technical University who in 1888–1892 was chief engineer for Thomas Edison at the Edison General Electric Works in the USA and after returning to Prague in 1896 founded the company KOLBEN and Co., Electro-technical Factory in Prague–Vysočany, which later became Českomoravská-Kolben-Daněk (ČKD). Emil’s brother Jindřich (b. 1864) left for America when he was young and ran the Czech newspaper Svornost (Concord) in Chicago for many years. Emil’s closest brother was Alfred (1874–1942), who was also an engineer and later became the head of a technical school in Brno and also spent many years painting.
After the Nazi occupation of the Czech lands in March 1939, Emil Kolben had to give up all his posts at ČKD and to sell the family-owned Cable Factory in Hostivař and Electroisolation Company in Hloubětín. At the end of 1941, his freedom of the town of Strančice was revoked; his sister Kamila and brother Alfred ended their lives in joint suicide there in 1942. His son-in-law Vilém Lieder-Kolben and grandchildren Harry and Hanuš Werner were arrested and deported in the same year. On 9 June 1943, at the age of 81, Emil Kolben was deported to the Terezín ghetto with his daughter Lilly, son Hanuš and grandson Jindřich. Emil Kolben died there three weeks later, on 3 July 1943. His son Hanuš Kolben (1895–1944), also a talented painter, perished in the gas chambers of Auschwitz at the age of 49 on 10 July 1944. His son Jindřich (b. 1926) was the only one to survive; during the evacuation of the Blechhammer camp on 21 January 1945 he managed to escape to Slovakia, where he joined the Czechoslovak army. In total, 26 members of the Kolben family perished as a result of racial persecution during the Holocaust.
Although the ČKD Factory was one of the key pillars of Czech industry in the post-war years, it was forbidden under Communism to talk about its capitalist founder, Emil Kolben. It was only after 1989 that Kolben was given recognition: a metro station and a street in Prague 9 have been named for him, and his freedom of the town of Strančice has been reinstated in memoriam. In September 2006, a memorial plaque at Vysočany Town Hall was unveiled for the 110th anniversary of the founding of ČKD works and, on his 80th birthday, Jindřich Kolben was awarded the freedom of the Prague 9 district.
 
Images from the exhibition can be downloaded at http://194.228.42.89/zmp/kolben_press/
 
For more information, please contact:
Noemi Holeková
Tel. 221 711 581; 603 867 285
E-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
www.jewishmuseum.cz

 

Press release
January 9, 2007


CAMPAIGN OF THE EDUCATION AND CULTURE CENTRE OF THE JEWISH MUSEUM IN PRAGUE ON EDUCATION AGAINST RACISM AND XENOPHOBIA
 
Seventy-eight posters with eight different texts shall be placed mainly on showcases in the city and on a few pillars in Prague centre (so called Citylights) from January 16th till February 12th, 2007. All eight versions have the same simple and noticeable design: striking yellow texts based on the wording of the bans and restricting regulations aimed against Jews from the period of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia printed on black background. Yet, the texts are updated to reflect the present situation and they play on irony – e.g. „Bald persons are forbidden to visit public libraries“. A small print, legible only from short distance then explains that such absurd bans were once really in force on our territory and they applied to Jews. Those who wish to learn more may use the following reference in an even smaller print: The Educational and Cultural Centre of the Jewish Museum in Prague offers educational programmes on the topics of antisemitism and holocaust”. The reference includes also Jewish Museum in Prague web address and the VKC and ŽMP logo.
 
more samples >>>
placement of posters >>>
The campaign aims particularly at young people who know nothing or only very little about the persecution of Jews between 1939 and 1945 and it has been devised as a contribution to the education towards racial tolerance and against xenophobia. In a striking and unusual way the campaign draws attention to Nazi antisemitism and to the phenomenon of gradual and creeping offset of the suppression of basic human rights and liberties that may end in genocide. VKC hope the campaign will contribute to the increased tolerance towards minorities and greater respect for human rights in our country.
 
The posters should not only publicize the educational programmes and projects organized by the Jewish Museum in Prague but they will be used also in the VKC programmes as well as by the school curricula. The Citylights project might be also transposed to other towns and cities in the Czech Republic.
 
For more information, please contact:
Mgr. Marie Zahradníková
Tel. (+420) 222 814 926; (+420) 222 325 172
E-mail: [email] marie.zahr[at]jewishmuseum.cz
www.jewishmuseum.cz

 

Final Press Report
January 15, 2006


YEAR OF JEWISH CULTURE - 100 YEARS OF THE JEWISH MUSEUM IN PRAGUE

The Jewish Museum in Prague (JMP), founded in 1906, celebrated its centennial last year. This important occasion in the history of the Museum has been celebrated on the basis of a wide-ranging concept with 2006 designated as a Year of Jewish Culture. The aim has been to present the Jewish cultural heritage with reference to its traditional links with Czech culture and the Czech environment, to provide the general public with insights into the Jewish past and present, and to feature Czech Jewish roots outside the Czech Republic .
 
A total of 135 institutions and organizations contributed to the celebrations. Some 260 events were held in more than 50 towns in the Czech Republic and abroad in 2006, and these were seen by as many as 100 000 visitors. The Year of Jewish Culture involved the participation of 17 different countries. A total of 11 publications were issued by the Jewish Museum in Prague for its centennial year.
 
The Year of Jewish Culture pointed out various aspects of Jewish culture and tradition in the Czech lands - from the outset through the difficult war and post-war years to the present day. The event included exhibitions about the various phases in the history of the Jewish Museum and about the people that contributed to the establishment and development of this institution. Contemporary artworks were showcased in exhibitions, multimedia displays, theatre shows, concerts, film screenings and festival projects. A whole range of discussions, lectures and screenings dealt with social, political and religious issues relating to anti-Semitism. International collaborations were an important contribution to the Year of Jewish Culture.
 
The intense programme of the Year of Jewish Culture that embraced various artistic disciplines and dealt with historic as well as social themes is difficult to contain. The Jewish Museum in Prague, the coordinator and initiator of the Year of Jewish Culture, has tried to illustrate that it is not only a museum with an important collection, a library and an a source of archives, but also a living entity that is actively contributing to the modern history of Jewish culture and supporting contemporary arts. Although the Year of Jewish Culture has ended, Jewish culture is continuing to develop and the museum’s objective remains to preserve historical sources and create new space for creative activities. Many thanks go to all the partners involved.
 
Under the auspices of the Mayor of the City of Prague Pavel Bém, Chairman of the Senate Přemysl Sobotka, the former president of the Czech Republic Václav Havel, former Ministers of Culture Pavel Dostál and Vítězslav Jandák and the former Chariman of the House of Representatives Lubomír Zaorálek.
 
Media partners: MF Dnes, Týden, Český rozhlas, The Prague Post
 
Financial support:

Jewish Museum in Prague, Ministry of Culture, State Fund for Culture, City of Prague, City District Prague 1, City District Prague 3, Embassy of the USA, Embassy of Canada, Embassy of the Netherlands, Embassy of Turkey
 
Installation Ark was supported by:
SIEZA, s.r.o., Goodside Foundation, Hardesh Foundation, The Lee Foundation, The Davis Family, The Glina Family, The Warshafsky Foundation, JAP–Jewish Art/Products/Politics
 
Days of Jewish Culture in Brno were supported by:
City of Brno, Region of Southern Moravia, Ministry of Culture, Jewish Community of Brno
 
Individual projects were supported by other organizations and institutions.
 
Complete press release >>>
 
PR: Jana Tomášková, jana@iam.cz, GSM: (+420) 602 255 961
Eva Dudasová, eva@iam.cz, GSM: (+420) 731 171 517
www.jewishmuseum.cz

 

Press release
December 1, 2006


New book published for the 100th anniversary of the Jewish Museum in Prague
100 ITEMS FROM THE JEWISH MUSEUM IN PRAGUE

 
Published for the 100th anniversary of the Jewish Museum in Prague, this illustrated catalogue features a hundred of the most interesting items from the museum’s collections (which contain as many as 40,000 Judaic treasures). It includes a representative selection of textiles, metalworks, miscellaneous items, manuscripts, rare books and visual artworks. These items have been selected as they are either exceptional in some way or else are the most widely represented items in the collections. Most of them are on display in the museum’s exhibitions.
 
The catalogue contains whole-page photographs and details of the items with brief texts in six languages – Czech, English, German, French, Italian and Spanish.
pp. 252, 206 full-colour illustrations.
 
Edited by Eva Kosáková.
 
A Selection by Curators: Michaela Hájková, Jaroslav Kuntoš, Olga Sixtová and Dana Veselská.
 
Images from the book can be downloaded at http://194.228.42.89/zmp/100%20predmetu_press/
(© Photo by the Jewish Museum in Prague)
 
For more information, please contact:
Noemi Holeková
Tel. 221 711 581; 603 867 285
E-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
www.jewishmuseum.cz

 

Press release
October 25, 2006


THE SECOND LIFE OF CZECH TORAH SCROLLS
Czech Torah scrolls and binders from the Memorial Scrolls Trust in London and the Jewish Museum in Prague
 
Exhibition for the 100th anniversary of the Jewish Museum in Prague
 
From October 26, 2006 till January 28, 2007
 
Jewish Museum in Prague – Robert Guttmann Gallery

U Staré školy 3, Prague 1 (rear wing of the Spanish Synagogue), tel. 221 711 553
Open daily 9 a.m. – 4.30 p.m. except for Saturdays and Jewish holidays
 
Exhibition curator: Dana Veselská
 
In 1964 the bulk of the unique collection of Torah scrolls and related Torah binders from the then State Jewish Museum in Prague’s were sold abroad. Featuring a selection of important artefacts, this exhibition highlights the tradition of the Torah scroll and its importance within the synagogue and explains the origin and function of Torah binders. It also covers the fate of Czech Torah scrolls during the Holocaust and after the war with particular focus on the circumstances surrounding their subsequent sale. The current life of the scrolls across the world is also described. By way of illustration, it points to the connections that are being established between Czech communities and the Jewish congregations abroad that are now using the scrolls. A 15-minute film by Ivan Pokorný has also been made for the exhibition.
 
Before the Second World War, very few Torah scrolls and binders appeared in the Museum’s collections. The situation drastically changed during the war: many items were saved in the newly established Central Jewish Museum in Prague, including almost 1,800 Torah scrolls, whose owners had been deported to concentration camps. Although a number of Jewish congregations were re-established after the war and provided with Torah scrolls for ritual purposes, many were disbanded in the first years of the Communist regime and the Torahs were returned to Jewish Museum in Prague. In 1950 the Museum was put under state control, and at the beginning of the 1960s the then Czechoslovak regime set about selling the Museum’s ritual items abroad.
Torah scrolls became a popular article. In 1963, once a suitable purchaser had been found, the Museum staff had to provide about 1,500 Torah scrolls from the Museum’s collections for sale. In January 1964, the scrolls in Prague were wrapped and shipped to London.
The shipment of this immense amount of important Jewish ritual items attracted great attention in London. The scrolls found refuge at Kent House, the headquarters of the recently established Jewish congregation at Westminster. Two possible options were considered for their further use: the scrolls that were in good condition or were repairable could be loaned for liturgical uses while those that were not repairable could be provided for commemorative purposes. In 1965, and for the next almost 40 years, all activities relating to the care and distribution of the Torah scrolls, as well as the work of the Memorial Scrolls Trust, were overseen by Ruth Shaffer. The distribution of the scrolls was subject to clearly defined rules: the items were to be provided on permanent loan, not to private individuals but to congregations that were in need of them. Requests were dealt with on an individual basis and were often turned down for various reasons – as, for example, when it was suspected that the interested party had commercial designs on a Torah scroll.
The vast majority of usable Czech Torahs have now been distributed to Jewish congregations, Shoah memorials, museums and libraries across the world. The rest form part of a collection in a small museum at Kent House, which commemorates the fate of the scrolls and the history of the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia. The scrolls that the Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust has loaned to congregations are being looked after with great care. They realise the value of the memory of every individual scroll and are developing a number of projects that promote knowledge of the life of the Jewish community in Bohemia and Moravia. The Jewish Museum in Prague is glad to be involved in all such projects.
 
The research project into the Czech Torah scrolls and binders in the Memorial Scrolls Trust, London, was financially supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.
 
A catalogue of the same name is being published for this exhibition.
 
Images from the exhibition can be downloaded at
http://194.228.42.89/zmp/druhy_zivot_ceskych_svitku/
 
For more information, please contact:
Noemi Holeková
Tel. 221 711 581; 603 867 285
E-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
www.jewishmuseum.cz

 

Press release
October 25, 2006


JEWISH EDUCATION
 
Exhibition for the 100th anniversary of the Jewish Museum in Prague
 
November 9 – December 3, 2006
 
Pedagogical Museum of J. A. Comenius
, Valdštejnská 20, Prague 1
Open daily 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., except Mondays
 
Exhibition curator: Arno Pařík
 
The tradition of Jewish education stretches back to biblical times. The father’s obligation to teach his children is set out in the first paragraph of Shema Yisrael: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up...” (Deut 6:6-9) Deuteronomy and the Book of Proverbs both contain several references to the duty to provide education. The educational principles of the Hebrew Bible were later also applied within the context of Christian and Moslem society.
 
The methods of instruction in Ancient Israel anticipated many of the tenets of modern education. Compulsory attendance of elementary schools was required as early as the first century B.C.E. Every Jewish community had an important duty to support religious education. Talmud torahs were established for the youngest children of parents who could not afford to pay for a private tutor. The purpose of the heder (lit. “room”) was to provide older children with a basic knowledge of Hebrew, Torah, Mishnah and Jewish laws. After graduating from the heder, most children at around 15 went on to a yeshivah. Yeshivah (lit. “sitting”) is a school of higher education primarily for the study of the Talmud. Following this tradition, Jews taught their children in their own schools and with the help of private tutors until the end of the 18th century.
 
It was not until Josef II’s decree of 1781 that Jews in the Czech lands were allowed to attend all public schools, including universities. This decree also supported the establishment of secular Jewish schools in larger Jewish communities with state supervision and lessons in German, mathematics, geography and ethics. Most of the German Jewish schools in Bohemia were closed down at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries and replaced by separate religion classes in public schools. In pre-war Czechoslovakia, there were a number of independent Jewish schools, such as the Jewish Elementary School in Prague, the Jewish Realschule in Brno and the Jewish Gymnasium in Mukačev. The clandestine teaching of children in the Terezín ghetto and other concentration camps is another important chapter in the history of Jewish education in the Czech lands.
 
Due to the huge losses of life, Jewish schools were not reopened after the war. Furthermore, the traditional teaching of religion was swept away by the Communists after 1948 and Hebrew lessons in language schools were also later discontinued. It was not until after November 1989 that religious education was restored by the Prague Jewish Community. Later, the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation helped to found a kindergarten (1994), the Gur Arieh Elementary School (1997) and the Ohr Hadash High School (1999). These schools follow standard curricula, as well as offering Jewish education and Hebrew lessons. In addition to compulsory subjects, they also provide various extracurricular activities, such as group projects on Hebrew and Jewish traditions, thematic seminars and discussion meetings. Private afternoon classes in Jewish education are provided by Bejt Elend in Prague, and purely religious lessons are held by the Prague Jewish Community.
 
For more information, please contact:
Noemi Holeková
Tel. 221 711 581; 603 867 285
E-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
www.jewishmuseum.cz

 

Press release
August 16, 2006


MELISSA SHIFF: ARK / ARCHA
Project for the 100th anniversary of the Jewish Museum in Prague

 
The former Small Pinkas Street by the Pinkas Synagogue
(at the intersection between Široká and Valentinská streets)
 

From September 14, 2006 until January 14, 2007

 
Video sculpture in the form of a gigantic ship, which has been made for the centenary of the museum. It provides a visual metaphor in which the history of the museum, as an ark protecting the important artifacts of Jewish culture in the Czech lands, merges with the past and present of the city against the backdrop of the dramatic events of the twentieth century.
 
Curator: Michaela Hajkova ( [email] michaela.sidenberg[at]jewishmuseum.cz)
 
The Canadian artist Melissa Shiff exhibits her outdoor video sculpture ARK starting from September 14 at the Jewish Museum in Prague as part of the centennial celebration of this institution which is the largest repository of Jewish cultural heritage in the Jewish diaspora. The exhibition will run until January 14, 2007.
 
The ARK is a 4.5-meter high structure made out of acrylic and aluminum that serves as a 3D projection screen. Shiff has created a 30-minute video that narrates the history of the museum and the Prague Jewish community during the last turbulent century. It reflects upon the museum as an ark (as a sanctuary for Jewish cultural and religious treasures) and an archive (that preserves the legacy of Jewish cultural memory) as well as on the function of the museum in general. ARK confronts man-made catastrophes such as the Holocaust and natural disasters such the recent floods in Prague (2002) as the powers of the formless that threaten the museological imperative to collect, order, and structure the archive.
 
Shiff explains the symbolism of ARK as follows: "The museum functions as Noah's Ark did in the Old Testament – to salvage and save what might otherwise be destroyed by natural disaster and catastrophe. Therefore ARK seemed to be the perfect metaphor for a project about the museum and particularly about this museum that was able to salvage thousands and thousands of objects during the Holocaust."
 
Melissa Shiff is well-known for her artistic projects that reinvent Jewish rituals and that reflect upon their relevance for contemporary social issues. Her Passover art activist projects (such as The Times Square Seder and The Medium is the Matzo) are featured in the September 2006 issue of the media arts journal Afterimage. She had a special exhibition (Eljah Chair: Art, Ritual, Social Action) at the Goodkind Media Gallery of The Jewish Museum in New York in 2004. Her other exhibitions and video installation projects include Gender Cuts: The Jew Under the Knife (on ritual circumcision) and Postmodern Jewish Wedding (also exhibited by the Jewish Museum in Prague at the Spanish Synagogue). Shiff has recently launched an on-line store called JAP Jewish Art Projects/Products/Politics for her reinvented ritual objects. The store can be reached through her website at www.melissashiff.com or directly at www.japshopper.com.
 
This project is held in cooperation with the 9 Gates Festival with support from the following partners: Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, the City of Prague, Prague 1 Borough, the Canadian Embassy in Prague, Goodside Foundation, Hardesh Foundation, The Lee Foundation, The Davis Family, The Glina Family, The Warshafsky Foundation, and Sieza s. r. o.
 
Images of the video-sculpture can be downloaded at:
http://194.228.42.89/zmp/archa_press/
Reproduction of any image(s) should be credited to © JAP Projects Inc., 2006.
 
For more information, please contact:
Noemi Holeková
Tel. 221 711 581; 603 867 285
E-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
www.jewishmuseum.cz

 

Press release
August 16, 2006


THE JEWISH MUSEUM IN PRAGUE IS OPENING A NEW OFFICE IN BRNO
 
The Education and Culture Centre, Brno officially opens this September. This is the first office of the Jewish Museum in Prague’s Education and Culture Centre outside of the capital.
 
After ten years of success of the Education and Culture Centre in Prague and coinciding with the extensive cultural project “Year of Jewish Culture – 100 Years of the Jewish Museum in Prague”, the Centre is expanding its operations to Brno
 
The activities of the Education and Culture Centre in Brno will provide people from the Moravian region with information about Jewish history (from the earliest times up to the period of the Shoah), culture and traditions. Schools, special interest groups and members of the public will have the opportunity to become actively involved in educational and cultural programmes, meetings, workshops, lecture series and interactive exhibitions. The Centre also seeks to familiarize the public with monuments that document the history of the Jews and Jewish settlement in various regions of Moravia and Silesia. The Centre’s activities will not be limited to the Brno area, however, as it intends to gradually establish contacts with university, science and educational institutions in other towns across Moravia and Silesia.
 
The Education and Culture Centre in Brno occupies the raised ground floor office at Třída Kpt. Jaroše 3. It has a flexible lecture hall which seats 30-80 people and is equipped with the necessary audio-visual facilities.
 
Regular information on the Centre’s programmes will be available in the monthly papers KAM v Brně..., Roš Chodeš and Maskil. Details will also be posted on the website of the Jewish Museum in Prague www.jewishmuseum.cz/brno .
 
The official opening of the Brno office of the Education and Culture Centre affiliated with the Jewish Museum in Prague will take place on 20 September 2006 at 3 p.m., with the representatives of various public, cultural and educational institutions in attendance. Ha Chucpa and guests Juraj and Tomáš Neufeld will be in concert.
 
Contact:
Education and Culture Centre of the Jewish Museum in Prague
Brno Office
tř. Kpt. Jaroše 3
602 00, Brno
 
Hana Drozdová (head of cultural programmes)
[email] hana.drozdova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
tel.: (+420) 544 509 651, 775 054 790
 
Táňa Cihlářová (educational projects)
[email] tana.cihlarova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
tel.: (+420) 544 509 652, 777 967 534

 

Press release
August 16, 2006


DEFYING THE BEAST
THE JEWISH MUSEUM IN PRAGUE, 1906-1940

Exhibition for the 100th anniversary of the Jewish Museum in Prague
From August 17 till October 1, 2006
 
Jewish Museum in Prague – Robert Guttmann Gallery
U Staré školy 3, Prague 1 (rear wing of the Spanish Synagogue), tel. 221 711 553
Open daily 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. except for Saturdays and Jewish holidays
 
Exhibition curator: Magda Veselská
 
The Jewish Museum in Prague is one of the oldest Jewish museums in Europe. This exhibition for the Museum’s centenary follows the history of its pre-war collections from its establishment in 1906 through 1940, when the Museum Association looking after its collections was officially dissolved, until the launch of the Central Jewish Museum in 1942.
 
The founding of the Museum
The attempt to capture the glorious past within the Jewish milieu was influenced mainly by the ongoing process of assimilation and liberalization. The development of Wissenschaft des Judentums (Science of Judaism) was a reaction to these trends. Through scientific research into Jewish history and culture, this movement sought to reinforce Jews’ perception of their identity and to familiarize non-Jews with Jewish values.
Ideas concerning the establishment of a Jewish museum began to take shape in connection with the ongoing clearance of Prague’s former Jewish ghetto in Josefov and adjoining areas. The arrogant and insensitive approach of the Prague municipal government vis-a-vis the destruction of monuments was denounced at the time by the writer Vilém Mrštík in his famous essay Bestia triumphans. The fact that a number of synagogues and prayer houses were in immediate danger became the main impulse to found the Museum Association.
 
The activities of the Museum Association
The Association for the Founding and Maintenance of the Jewish Museum in Prague came into being in 1906 under the supervision of Salomon Hugo Lieben, August Stein and trustees of synagogues that were demolished or endangered. Through great effort, its representatives managed to save at least some of the liturgical items from the destroyed synagogues in Prague, snatching them out of the clutches of the beast.
The initially modest collection rapidly expanded during its operations. The first exhibition opened in 1909 in a rented apartment in Benediktská Street. In 1912 the Museum Association located the next, more extensive exhibition in the Prague Burial Society’s new building in Josefovská (now Široká) Street. After the resumption of its activities after the First World War, the Prague Burial Society provided the Association with use of its ceremonial building for the Museum’s ever-expanding collections; the Museum’s third exhibition opened here in 1926. The possibilities for developing the Museum’s collections were soon limited by the economic crisis of the 1930s, but this provided scope for the professional care and inventory-taking of its collection items.
Despite the political events of 1938-39, the Museum Association decided to continue in its activities; in May 1940, however, it was officially dissolved, along with other Jewish societies and organizations, at the behest of the Nazi authorities. The Beast had struck again, albeit in a different guise. The collections remained on view in the Burial Society’s Ceremonial Hall and came under the care of the Prague Jewish Community. It was not until the end of 1941, in connection with a raft of anti-Jewish regulations, that it was definitively closed to the public.
 
The Central Jewish Museum
When employees of the Prague Jewish Community, in the spring of 1942, initiated the founding of the Central Jewish Museum with a view to protecting synagogue items, books and archival records from the former Jewish communities in the territory of the Protectorate, they were able to base their case not only on the more than 30-year presence of the Jewish Museum in Prague, but also on the outstanding nature of the Museum’s collections.
Ultimately, then, the Central Jewish Museum was founded and the collection of the prewar Jewish Museum was gradually incorporated into it. These items to this day constitute the core of the Jewish Museum in Prague collections.
 
A catalogue of the same name is being published for this exhibition.
 
Images from the exhibition can be downloaded at
http://194.228.42.89/zmp/bestii_navzdory_press/
If you would like to use any of these images, you are required to state that they are photographs from the collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague, which is the sole copyright holder of these images
.
 
For more information, please contact:
Noemi Holeková
Tel. 221 711 581; 603 867 285
E-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
www.jewishmuseum.cz

 

Press release
August 23, 2006


EUROPEAN DAY OF JEWISH CULTURE
3 Setpember 2006
 
Jewish Museum in Prague - Open day

 
The Jewish cemetery in Fibichova Street, Žižkov will be open to the public on Sunday 3 September 2006, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. More information >>>

 

Press release
June 14, 2006


FORM OF THE SCROLL
June 22 – July 26, 2006
Jewish Museum in Prague – Robert Guttmann Gallery
U Staré školy 3, Prague 1 (rear tract of the Spanish Synagogue), tel. 221 711 553
Open daily 9 a .m. – 6 p.m., except Saturdays
Exhibition curator: Olga Sixtová
 
The new exhibition of the Jewish Museum in Prague, entitled Form of the scroll, presents a selection (about a tenth) of the 600 scrolls that are in the Museum’s collections. In present-day Europe, the use of this ancient book form is specific to Jewish culture, which the Museum is highlighting throughout this year as part of the Year of Jewish Culture project for its centennial celebrations.
The form of the scroll in Jewish culture is retained mainly by the Torah scroll (Pentateuch), which is the holiest book within Judaism. The Book of Esther and certain other texts are also read in the synagogue from a parchment scroll. This exhibition features all types of ceremonial scrolls, whose beauty lies in the calligraphy of the Hebrew script. The focus of attention is private scrolls of Esther, which, unlike synagogue scrolls, are usually adorned, for example, with ornamental decoration or with entire series of illustrations for the story of Mordecai and Esther. Some of the scrolls of Esther which are decorated with watercolours, pen-and-ink drawings and engravings are displayed in their entire length (up to several metres), so that the viewer can appreciate their beauty in full. Decorated scrolls of Esther in the Jewish Museum’s collections stem from Italy, Holland, Germany and Bohemia and date from the 17th century through the 20th.
The Book of Esther also became the model for local and family scrolls that describe rescues from dangers threatening the fate of the community or the lives of individual persons. In these works, written by their involuntary protagonists immediately after the event, specific expression is given to local history and the general picture of the insecure status of members of the Jewish community. The earliest of the events recorded in the texts of these scrolls, selected from the Jewish Museum’s manuscript collection, occurred in 1622 in Prague, the most recent in 1866 in Sušice.
The scroll has also been an inspiration for artists, whether they create illustrative accompaniments to the Book of Esther or use its form and traditional decoration as a source of inspiration in their own work. The attraction of this form is attested by a printed scroll published in Moscow in 1917, which was illustrated and hand-coloured by by the avant-garde Russian Jewish artist El Lissitzky (1890-1941). This exhibition will also present sketches for illustrations for the Book of Esther which have recently been made by the artist and theatre actor Matěj Forman in his mobile workshop in southern France. His watercolours should lead to the creation of an entire cycle of illustrations for the Book of Esther.
This exhibition coincides with an installation by Markéta Vogelová Cudlínová in Libeň Synagogue (June 16 – July 6, 2006). This features large-format oil paintings and a monumental textile scroll on the theme of the birth of the desert, loosely inspired by the books of Genesis and Exodus and by the desert landscape of Israel.
The exhibition at the Robert Guttmann Gallery in Prague is of short duration (only 5 weeks) given the fragility of the objects on display.
 
The exhibition images can be downloaded at: http://194.228.42.89/zmp/o_svitku_press/.
You may use these images but are required to state that they are photographs from the collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague, which is the sole copyright holder of these images.
 
For more information please contact:
Noemi Holeková
Tel. 221 711 581; 603 867 285
E-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
www.jewishmuseum.cz

 

Press release
June 14, 2006


Prague Museum Night at the Jewish Museum in Prague
On June 17, 2006, the Jewish Museum in Prague is participating in the Prague Museum Night Festival. The Maisel and Spanish Synagogues will be open from 10.30 p.m. till 1.00 a.m. and guided tours will be provided on that day.
The Maisel Synagogue houses the exhibition The History of the Jews in Bohemia and Moravia I – From the First Settlements until Emancipation. This charts the history of the Jews in the Czech lands from the 10th to the18th centuries.
The Spanish Synagogue houses the exhibition The History of the Jews in Bohemia and Moravia II – from Emancipation to the Present. This covers the period from the Enlightenment, the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, the First Republic, the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and the post-war years. The upper-floor Prayer Hall houses the exhibition Synagogue Silver from Bohemia and Moravia, which comprises a selection of items made by thirteen generations of goldsmiths and silversmiths from Central Europe.
As part of the 9 Gates Festival, the Spanish Synagogue (at 8.30 p.m.) will host a concert by Cantor Boris Finkelstein and the Male Choir of the Great Synagogue of Moscow. Featuring a mixture of large-scale oratorios and fragments of Jewish liturgy that have not been performed in Russia for more than 70 years, as well as Jewish and Russian folk songs and international classics. The Male Choir of the Great Synagogue of Moscow has performed at famous venues like Carnegie Hall and has collaborated with stars such as Placido Domingo.
 
For more information please contact:
Noemi Holeková
Tel. (+420) 221 711 581; 603 867 285
E-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
www.jewishmuseum.cz

 

Press release
May 16, 2006


IMAGES OF THE PRAGUE GHETTO
Exhibition for the 100th anniversary of the Jewish Museum in Prague
May 17 – August 28, 2006
City of Prague Museum, Na Poříčí 52, 180 00, Prague 8
Open daily except Mondays, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Exhibition curator: [email] Dr. Arno Pařík
 
The exhibition Images of the Prague Ghetto brings together 200 unique images, dating from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, which give a vivid picture of the main monuments of Prague’s Jewish Town. The exhibition comprises three main sections. The first part features portraits of rabbis and families in the ghetto, but the focus of attention is on the most important sites of the ghetto, particularly the Old-New Synagogue and the Old Jewish Cemetery. Most of the depictions of the Jewish Town by Prague painters date from the period of its reconstruction, which also led to the founding of the Jewish Museum in Prague.
 
Paintings of the Prague ghetto
The Enlightenment had a major impact on life in the Prague ghetto. The need to represent a society undergoing a process of emancipation led to the creation of a complete portrait gallery of the spiritual representatives of the Prague Jewish community, as well as of members of patrician and entrepreneurial families in the Jewish Town. By the beginning of the 19th century, the best Prague portraitists, such as A. Bayer and A. Machek, were receiving commissions from clients in the ghetto. Soon later, portraits were being made by the first Jewish graduates of the Prague Academy, such as S. J. Arkeles, A. A. Pulzer and J. Bindele. I. J. Porges became one of the most acclaimed Jewish portraitists in 19th century Prague.
The Old-New Synagogue attracted the attention of artists at the beginning of the 19th century. It was depicted in the 1830s by the Prague vista painters K. Würbs, V. Kandler and V. Morstadt, whose engravings were used as illustrations for the first guidebooks for Prague. The Old-New Synagogue interior was drawn by J. V. Hellich and J. Mánes, whose watercolour is the most important image of the synagogue. From the end of the 18th century onwards, the Old Jewish Cemetery became a popular subject for several generations of artists. The first artist to be interested in Old Jewish Cemetery motifs was A. Mánes. The most important painters of the cemetery, however, were B. Havránek and M. Wehli who depicted picturesque clusters of tombstones near Pinkas Synagogue with views of Prague Castle. The cemetery was also painted by J. Čermák, V. Hynais, J. Bubeníček, A. Wierer and J. Jilovsky. Old Jewish Cemetery views also became a popular a popular motif for Art Nouveau graphic artists.
The decision to reconstruct the Jewish Town and the beginning of its demolition around 1896, however, produced a wave of broader interest in the cramped lanes and shabby houses of the Prague ghetto. The reconstruction of Josefov was in full swing between 1897 and 1907, from which period date most of the artworks that aimed to document the form of the ghetto’s vanishing streets and corners. Among the most important painters from this period was the landscape artist and illustrator V. Jansa; among the first painters of the Jewish Town were L. Marold, V. Hradecký, J. Jakesch and J. Douba. A. Slavíček painted his most famous views of the Jewish and Old towns at the beginning of the 20th century. Other artists working here at this time included J. Minařík, S. Feikl, A. Körber and A. Wierer. Local motifs continued to appear into the 1920s and 30s in the many works of the naive painter A. Kohn.
It is due to the numerous works by several generations of Prague painters and graphic artists that the demolished Jewish Town is now, paradoxically, among the best documented historic parts of Prague.
 
Images from the exhibition can be downloaded at http://194.228.42.89/zmp/prazskeghetto/.
If you would like to use any of these images, you are required to state that they are photographs from the collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague, which is the sole copyright holder of these images.
 
Contacts for journalists:
Jewish Museum in PragueCity of Prague Museum
Noemi HolekováAlexander Lukeš
Tel. (+420) 221 711 581; 603 867 285Tel. (+420) 224 223 696,l.123; 602 979 661
E-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz     E-mail: lukes@muzeumprahy.cz

The exhibition is being held in association with the Prague 1 Borough (Městská část Praha 1)

 

Press release
April 24, 2006


Travelling exhibition of the Education and Culture Centre
“Don’t Lose Faith in Mankind… The Protectorate Through the Eyes of Jewish Children”

Carolinum Cloister (Křížová chodba Karolina), Ovocný trh 3, Prague 1
The exhibition runs from May 23, 2006 until June 18, 2006.
Open daily 10 a.m. – 6. p.m., except Mondays
Entrance fee: 20,- Kč; for school groups – 10,- Kč
Exhibition curator: Marie Zahradníková ( [email] marie.zahr[at]jewishmuseum.cz)
 
The topic of the Holocaust has frequently appeared in public discourse in recent years. It has been the focus of many books and documentaries, and has been included in the school curriculum and in the Ministry of Education’s new general educational programme. In addition, ongoing projects have focused on searching for neighbours who disappeared during the Second World War from towns and communities where their ancestors had lived for centuries. The 1990s represented a kind of psychological turn for those who had experienced the horrors of the Holocaust in person: some of them began to reminisce about these events, gave testimonies and took part in school meetings with one purpose in mind – to ensure that the Holocaust is remembered and that it is never repeated. The current relevance of this topic is underlined by recent efforts by Holocaust deniers who, in the autumn of 2005, began distributing to Czech schools a pamphlet that denies the Holocaust and the existence of gas chambers.
The aim of the new travelling exhibition is to introduce elementary and high school pupils and students to the Jewish minority that lived in the Czech lands before the outbreak of the Second World War, and to familiarize them with the difficult topic of the Holocaust. The exhibition shows various aspects of the life of Jews in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia from the perspective of the young people of the day. The accompanying programmes and materials will enable young people to actively learn about the relevant issues. The entire project may be incorporated into school classes in history, social science, art and aesthetics. It also covers several cross-sectional topics as defined by the general educational programme for elementary and high schools (in particular, “Multicultural Education” and “Education for the Democratic Citizen”).
 
Exhibition concept: The exhibition comprises 20 display panels and focuses on the specific fate of individual Jewish children and families. The exhibition concept is based on the assumption that describing the stories of individual persons is of far greater benefit for an understanding of the past than simply listing facts, numbers and dates.
 
In order to actually convey the subject-matter through the eyes of children, use has been made of authentic materials, many of which were made by children themselves: diary excerpts, letters, children’s drawings from Terezín, children’s magazines, photographs of children, newspapers of the day, and other pictorial and printed documents. Testimonies from contemporaries will enable pupils and students to better empathize with the events of the 1930s, the Second World War and, in particular, the situation of the persecuted Jewish minority.
The first display panel will draw young visitors into the story of six students from the 1930s, who are depicted not as wretched, destiny-stricken Jews but as completely ordinary children who lived happy lives with their families and friends before the war. On other panels, the fate of the children and their families during the war is developed against the backdrop of wartime events. These “children” have been chosen as their stories cover a whole range of events and give a comprehensive picture of the situation of the Jews during the war (they include, for example, a hidden child, one of “Winton’s Children” and a child of half-Jewish descent). In the accompanying programme, participants will focus on the exhibition in groups, each following a certain child’s fate and then comparing their stories. Working separately in this way will help pupils and students understand that the war and the Holocaust process are not only historical facts but also involve the stories of individual people. Young people will no longer see these events in black and white and will realize that people like themselves were both victims and instigators, as opposed to it being a matter of abstract, impersonal history.
 
The exhibition does not close with the end of the war, for it also reflects upon the post-war lives of Jews, their return either from concentration camps or from abroad. The last display panel is devoted to the post-war and current lives of the six “children” featured.
 
This project also includes an interactive website with more information about the events and people featured in the exhibition, as well as downloadable documents from the archive of the Jewish Museum in Prague.
 
In addition to the exhibition, there will be daily screenings of documentaries at the exhibition venue and several meetings with Holocaust survivors and eyewitnesses – the children who are featured in the exhibition. These meetings will be filmed and archived in digital form for further use. Personal encounters with eyewitnesses, their narratives and the possibility of asking them questions are of great pedagogical importance. In addition, they provide a link between the past and the present and add to the project’s current relevance. At the same time, it should be noted that the eyewitnesses are aging and that this is one of the last possibilities for young people, among others, to meet them in person.
For more information, see www.neztratitviru.net
This exhibition has received financial support from the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, the Czech State Culture Fund and the Czech Ministry of Culture
 
The exhibition opens at Carolinum Cloister (Křížová chodba Karolina) in Prague on May 22, 2006. The Holocaust survivors and eyewitnesses featured in the exhibition will be in attendance. The opening speech will be given by the Czech Minister of Education, Petra Buzková.
 
“Neighbours Who Disappeared” and “Tribute to the Child Holocaust Victims” projects
 
The Neighbours Who Disappeared project calls upon young people to search for people who disappeared from their neighbourhoods during the Second World War. The project provides a methodology for studying the Holocaust period within the school curriculum at all educational levels (in particular, elementary, secondary, high and vocational schools) in accordance with the Czech Ministry of Education’s general educational programme. In addition, it is an appeal to meet with the last generation of eyewitnesses of the Holocaust and, in particular, to search for victims of the Holocaust. The results of the first phase of the project included an exhibition (featuring 12 display panels), a collection of papers and methodological publication. The results of the second phase (from 2003) were mostly local – including exhibitions, a website, brochures, collections of papers and video documentation.
 
Tribute to the Child Holocaust Victims
This is the second phase of the Neighbours Who Disappeared project. As part of this project, independent research is conducted by individual schools. Emphasis is on the fate of Jewish pupils and students of a particular school attended by the pupils and students of today. Part of the students’ research involves putting together a memorial poster at the school. A digital copy of this poster is included in the original group exhibition with the aim of presenting the students’ work (where possible by the students themselves) at a local, national and international level. In 2005, the exhibition comprised 7 panels, but more panels are being put together. The civic association Zapomenutí / The Forgotten Ones may help to finance the printing of this poster, provided that the school in question has registered with the project several months in advance. As regards project financing, the town, municipality, region or school in question usually pays for the printing of accompanying brochures or arranges for the translation of materials, while the Education and Culture Centre pays for the printing of large-scale posters, exhibition catalogues and exhibitions, etc. Priority is given to those schools which have materials of sufficient technical quality in accordance with the assignment of this phase of the project, and which will separately prepare the graphic design on the basis of several-month research.
Schools may apply to become involved in the project by completing an application form that is available at www.zmizeli-sousede.cz and sending it to the email address mentioned below. Other output – such as websites and audio or video documentation by students, etc – is also welcome.
The texts of both exhibitions, comprising 19 display panels, have been translated into English. From the spring of 2006, the work of Czech pupils and students will be presented abroad.
 
In addition to recalling the recent history of neighbourhoods, this project also enables Czech schools to strengthen their identity by putting together motivational material relating to former classmates who have been forgotten. Local exhibitions make it possible to discover new connections and to bring together various institutions (families, schools, cultural centres, local authorities, libraries, archives and volunteers) and help to strengthen the identity of communities. The group exhibition ensures that the work of students is acknowledged in society and that it reaches an even broader range of the public. The first presentation of this project was held under the auspices of the Senate of the Czech Republic and Prague City Hall on June 14, 2005.
At present, the project is being presented in the form of seven display panels in various places across the Czech Republic (České Budějovice, Telč, Plzeň, Litomyšl, Varnsdorf, Chotěboř). Most of the project work is accompanied by brochures.
 
For more information:
www.zmizeli-sousede.cz and www.jewishmuseum.cz
Marta Vančurová – o.s. Zapomenutí / The Forgotten Ones, tel. 603 147 074, martavan@gmail.com
Marie Zahradníková – Education and Culture Centre of the Jewish Museum in Prague, tel.: 224 814 926, 222 322 935
 
“Daniel Contest”
The installation at Carolinum Cloister Hall will include a small exhibition of award-winning work from the art category of the 3rd national contest Daniel (which was announced by the Czech Ministry of Education’s National Institute of Children and Youth). The winners in the art, history and literature categories will also be announced.
The awards ceremony will be held on May 23, 2006 from 11 a.m.

 

Press release
April 24, 2006


HEAR OUR VOICE
A music project giving voice to the silenced

 
But anyway, I still believe I only sleep today, That I'll wake up, a child again, and start to laugh and play.
 
Hanus Hachenburg was 13 when he was deported to Terezín. Whilst in the ghetto, he produced a wealth of extraordinary poetry. His voice was silenced in Auschwitz on December 18, 1943.
 
Hackney Music Development Trust’s Hear Our Voice is a unique music education project, which uses the arts to increase young people's awareness and understanding of the dangers of prejudice and persecution and express their own feelings towards current issues of racial hatred and intolerance, culminating in performances of an inspiring new music theatre piece comprising poems, diaries and letters written by children during the Holocaust.
 
Hackney Music Development Trust (London) in partnership with the Internationales Kammermusik Festival (Nürnberg) and the Jewish Museum (Prague) is working with students in all three cities to develop the project in English, German and Czech and perform this important new work with the Fürth Streichhölzer Youth Orchestra under the baton of international conductor Peter Selwyn.
 
Giving life to this moving artistic response to the Holocaust are British composers Jonathan Dove and Matthew King, director Clare Whistler, and award winning Czech film maker Marta Hruba, who will work with students to develop Tertia Sefton-Green's powerful libretto into an uplifting drama in which young people of the present give voice to the words of children whose voices were prematurely silenced – children of the Holocaust.
 
The project is in three phases:
 
1. Innovative Schools’ work
Newly designed teachers’ materials will use literature, music, art and drama to introduce the subject matter through the arts and provide sustainable resources for long-term use. Students will visit relevant historic heritage sites and museums, and meet with survivors of the Holocaust.
 
2. Creative Workshops
Artists will lead workshops in each country to develop students’ creative responses to the libretto, enabling them to develop a range of skills and techniques in the areas of composition, vocal and dramatic interpretation, instrumental work, visual arts and film making.
 
3. Performances and Tour
Composers Jonathan Dove and Matthew King will incorporate musical ideas developed by the students into a finished fully-scored music-theatre piece, thereby ensuring the new work is both of the highest artistic quality and a response of today’s students to words written by children who lived through the experiences of the Holocaust. An international tour involving students from each of the countries will premiere in London in July 2006 and travel to each country, accompanied by an exhibition of their written and art work.
 
PERFORMANCES
 
United Kingdom
UCL Bloomsbury Theatre
July 15, 2006 at 7.30pm
July 16, 2006 at 2.30pm
Contact: 020 7388 8822; www.thebloomsbury.com
Exhibition at the Jewish Museum
 
Germany
Stadttheater Fürth
July 18, 2006 at 7.30pm
Contact: 0911 974 2410; theaterkasse@fuerth.de; www.stadttheater.fuerth.de
Exhibition at the Nürnberg Dokuzentrum
 
Czech republic
Prague State Opera
July 20, 2006 7.30pm
Contact: 224 227 832; order@bohemiaticket.cz; www.bohemiaticket.cz; www.opera.cz
Exhibition at the Jubilee Synagogue
June 19 – July 23, 2006

 

Press release
April 5, 2006


MELISSA SHIFF: REFRAMING RITUAL – POSTMODERN JEWISH WEDDING
6th April – 4th June 2006
Jewish Museum in Prague – Spanish Synagogue, Vězeňská 3, Praha 1
Open daily 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., except Saturdays and Jewish holidays, as part of the Jewish Museum permanent exhibition tour.
Curator: Michaela Hájková ( [email] michaela.sidenberg[at]jewishmuseum.cz)
 
The project of young Canadian artist, Melissa Shiff, offers an alternative look at a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony. Led by an effort to enliven the rigid ritual practice that has remained unchanged for centuries and the desire to give it a new meaning that can be sustainable in today’s plurality of opinions and identities, the artist has decided to prepare her own wedding as an experimental ‘live performance’. She uses a range of contemporary art techniques (installation and choreographic performance complemented by digital video projections and computer enhanced photos) and intellectual strategies (criticism of religious text from the point of view of gender and multicultural experience). The result of this innovative approach is a ritual with a traditional function and a freshly restructured content.
In Prague, Shiff will introduce the 20-minute video project in a presentation specially edited for the Year of Jewish Culture prepared by the Jewish Museum. The video installation will include the music of the klezmer-hip hop fusion “Solomon and So Called’s Hip Hop Khasene” and will be located on the main aisle of the Spanish Synagogue.
 
About the Artist
Canadian artist Melissa Shiff reinvents, reformats and rejuvenates Jewish rituals, applying critical analysis to Jewish religion and culture. Shiff works in video, performance, and installation and at the intersection of art and activism. Some of her work aims to revitalize the connection of social justice to Judaism. Other works, such as her real life performance art wedding, seek to blur the boundaries between art and life.
An earlier version of Postmodern Jewish Wedding has been screened at Jewish film festivals around the world, including Seattle, Toronto and Buenos Aires, and it was featured at the conference “Religious Witness” at New York University organized by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and Jeffrey Shandler in May 2004. Excerpts of the Postmodern Jewish Wedding are featured online at Modiya, which is a website devoted to Jews, media, and religion http://modiya.nyu.edu/. Shiff’s video sculpture Elijah Chair is in the permanent collection of the Jewish Museum in New York and it was featured in a special exhibition at its Goodkind Media Gallery in 2004 curated by Andrew Ingall. The Elijah Chair was originally part of Shiff's Times Square Seder Featuring the Matzo Ball Soup Kitchen held in March of 2002. This art activist happening activated Passover rituals to call attention to the problems of hunger and homelessness. A more recent Passover installation entitled The Medium is the Matzo took place at the Bronfman Center for Jewish Life at New York University in April 2005.
Most recently, Gender Cuts/The Jew Under the Knife was featured in the group show Command J: Jewish Laws, Digital Arts as part of the ReJewvenation conference and cultural festival at the University of Toronto in October 2005 (www.rejewvenation2005.com).
Shiff is a member of the York University advanced research seminar for the study of Jewish Diaspora and New Media and a member of the advisory board of Mosaica, a web site for new Jewish art on-line. Having received her artistic training at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, she holds a degree from Tufts University and has lectured about her art at The Jewish Museum and Brandeis University among other institutions.
Shiff has recently launched an on-line store called JAP Jewish Art Projects/Products/Politics for her reinvented ritual objects. The store can be reached through her website at www.melissashiff.com.
 
The Jewish Museum in Prague plans to exhibit Shiff’s site-specific video installation entitled ARK. Conceived for the former Small Pinkas Street, it opens in Septermber 2006 as part of the museum’s centennial celebration.
 
The photographs can be downloaded on http://194.228.42.89/zmp/melissa_shiff/. Melissa Shiff: Scenes from the video installation ‘Postmodern Jewish Wedding/Postmoderní židovská svatba; Jewish Museum in Prague – Spanish synagogue, April 6 – June 4, 2006;
© 2006 Melissa Shiff
 
For more information please contact:
Noemi Holeková
Tel. (+420) 221 711 581; (+420) 603 867 285
E-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz; www.jewishmuseum.cz

Press release
April 5, 2006


MAZAL TOV – GOOD LUCK
Jewish Wedding Ceremonies – Past and Present

6th April – 4th June 2006
Robert Guttmann Gallery, Praha 1, U Staré školy 3 (rear wing of the Spanish Synagogue), tel. 221 711 553
Open daily 9 a.m – 6 p.m. except Saturdays and Jewish holidays
Exhibition curator: Dana Veselská
 
Although the Jewish community has been an integral part of Czech society for many centuries, the family ceremonies of this cultural and religious minority have not yet met with an appropriate level of interest and attention from the wider society. Due to a lack of specialist work on this topic in the past, the descriptions of the life of rural Jews in the literary work of Vojtěch Rakous made even more of an impression on the general public. The tragic events of the Second World War and the genocide of the Bohemian and Moravian Jewish population not only ended the centuries-long presence of the Jews in many areas of the Czech lands, but also severed family and local bonds. This permanently affected the form of local lifecycle ceremonies and also impeded their study and interpretation.
In Judaism, the wedding and marriage are closely linked to religious law. The union between a man and a woman is possible only between Jews (Jewish identity is passed on via the mother), or between a Jew and a convert to Judaism, known as a proselyte. The wedding is a precisely specified legal act, based on deep-rooted biblical and Talmudic traditions. Its precepts are independent of the rules and laws of the wider society, although its form has been influenced by many legal restrictions, particularly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Since biblical times, the form of the Jewish religious wedding has undergone only small changes. Marital union is a social contract between a man and a woman for the purpose of living together and having children. Judaism allows for divorce under certain conditions and for centuries has retained the tradition of the levirate marriage.
The Jewish wedding ceremony has always consisted of two basic portions – betrothal (Heb. Kiddushin or Erusin) and the wedding proper (Heb. Nissuin). Originally, there was a period of up to one year between the two parts, but for a long time they have been held on the same day. The actual wedding ceremony under the baldachin (Heb. huppah) is preceded by a settling of the wedding terms (Heb. tenayim), a fast by the betrothed couple, a visit to the ritual bath (Heb. mikveh) and the signing of the wedding contract (Heb. ketubbah). After the bedeken ceremony (veiling of the bride’s head), the groom (Heb. hatan) and bride (Heb. kalah) are brought under the canopy. The latter is usually situated inside the synagogue, although weddings used to be held outside and in the evening, with the starlit sky serving as a canopy. The betrothal ceremony begins with two male witnesses, the officiant (not necessarily a rabbi) and a minyan (quorum) of ten adult males in attendance. This involves the bride circling the groom, a blessing over wine, a blessing of the betrothal, the couple drinking wine, and the betrothal of the couple with a ring that the groom puts on the bride’s finger.
The reading of the wedding contract separates the two portions of the ceremony. This is followed by the actual wedding, which includes seven blessings (Heb. Shevah Berakhot) and the drinking of a second cup of wine. At the close of the ceremony, an item is symbolically broken as a reminder of the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. After the couple have spent a while in privacy, it is then time for the meal and the wedding festivities, together with presents, entertainment and dancing.
This exhibition, which has been several years in preparation, focuses on the course and attributes of the traditional wedding ceremony of Ashkenazi Jews. The photographs, garments, rings, contracts and many other items on display provide an overall picture of one of the most important events in the life cycle of every individual and show how the wedding has been celebrated by the Jewish community in the past and present.
 
The photographs can be downloaded on http://194.228.42.89/zmp/svatba_press/. The photographs are from the Jewish Museum Collections. The copyright belongs to the Jewish Museum in Prague.
 
For more information please contact:
Noemi Holeková
Tel. (+420) 221 711 581; (+420) 603 867 285
E-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz; www.jewishmuseum.cz

 

Press release
February 1, 2006


The Man who Never Gave Up
The Story of Josef Polák (1886-1945)

The current exhibition at the Robert Guttmann Gallery, which has been prepared as part of the Jewish Museum in Prague’s centenary celebrations, is focused on Josef Polák, an important art historian, museum specialist and organizer of cultural life in pre-war Czechoslovakia who significantly influenced the form of the Jewish Museum in Prague.
Josef Polák was born in Prague and became engrossed in the study of art history with professors Chytil, Hostinský and Matějka while still a law student at the Czech Charles-Ferdinand University. In the interwar period he published specialist texts on Jewish historical topics and became involved in social activities.
Military service during the First World War brought Polák to Slovakia, where he returned after the establishment of Czechoslovakia in the autumn of 1918. He gave himself over to the services of the new republic and promoted its ideals as director of the state-owned East Slovak Museum in Košice. In Slovakia he developed very progressive and successful activities in the fields of museum management, art history, heritage protection and public education. Focusing his specialist work mainly on visual art, he prepared more than 220 temporary exhibitions at the Košice museum and wrote a number of studies for Štenc’s Umění (Art) and other publications. In the 1930s, he also worked on an inventory of art collections belonging to certain state-owned chateaux and was one of the main curators of the Ancient Art in Slovakia exhibition (1937).
After returning to Prague, Polák was dismissed from the state service on account of his Jewish descent. In 1942, he became the main curator of the Jewish Central Museum in Prague, where he put together a collection-building concept and a system for sorting, describing and registering liturgical items, as well as setting out rules for the specialist care of artefacts. He conceived several modern presentations at the museum, of which only the Klausen Synagogue exhibition was completed within its planned scope. Despite being in immediate danger of his life as a Jew, he became involved in the resistance movement. He was arrested by the Gestapo in August 1944 and disappeared without trace in Auschwitz in January 1945.
The eventful life and diverse specialist work of this active figure are now almost forgotten. This exhibition, which is accompanied by an extensive catalogue, seeks to raise general awareness of this man.
 
Exhibition curator: Magda Veselská.
The exhibition runs from February 2, 2006 till March 19, 2006
Robert Guttmann Gallery, U Staré školy 3, Prague 1 (rear wing of Spanish Synagogue)
Open daily 9 a.m. – 4.30 p.m., except Saturdays and Jewish holidays
For more information, please contact the Jewish Museum’s Public Relations Department at the following address:
Jewish Museum in Prague, U Staré školy 1, 110 00, Praha 1, Tel.:+420-221 711 511, Fax:+420-224 819 458, e-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz

 

Press release
December 6, 2005


YEAR OF JEWISH CULTURE - 100 YEARS OF THE JEWISH MUSEUM IN PRAGUE
The year 2006 marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Jewish Museum in Prague. During the momentous occasion of this important anniversary, the Jewish Museum has approached other cultural institutions in the Czech Republic, as well as artists, Jewish communities and public officials for their support. Together with the contribution of several embassies and foreign cultural centres, the Museum has prepared the „Year of Jewish Culture – 100 Years of the Jewish Museum in Prague“, a yearlong project that will take place all across the country.
 
The basis of the celebration is to create and promote activities of the Jewish Museum. This thriving institution is not only the most visited museum in the Czech Republic but has become a symbol that personifies the modern history of Jews in Bohemia and Moravia from the time of their emancipation to the present day. The new project of the Jewish Museum will include independent and cooperative museum, gallery, theatre and film events as well as concerts. These individual projects will present the works of Czech and foreign artists whose common thread is Jewish art and culture. Every month, from January to December 2006, several cities throughout the Czech Republic will participate in the Jewish cultural programme celebrating the anniversary of the Jewish Museum in Prague, concurrently drawing attention to the Jewish culture and its value in the Czech and international context. In total, the “Year of Jewish Culture“ in the Czech Republic will include the participation of more than 80 institutions, and currently 70 different events have been planned.
The „Year of Jewish Culture“, in its entirety, will create an awareness of the unique characteristics of the Jewish cultural heritage, as well as its tradition associated with the Czech culture and society. The anniversary of the Museum offers an exceptional opportunity of bringing the Czech public closer to the Jewish culture. The Jewish Museum in Prague believes that the “Year of Jewish Culture” will become a significant event in 2006 that will enrich the cultural life in the Czech Republic.
The project is held under the auspices of the Mayor of the City of Prague Pavel Bém, former President of the Czech Republic Václav Havel, Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic Vítěslav Jandák, Chairman of the Senate Přemysl Sobotka and Chairman of the House of Representatives Lubomír Zaorálek.
 
Jana Tomášková, jana@iam.cz, GSM: 602 255 961
We will provide you with more detailed programmes of the “Year of Jewish Culture“.

 

Press release
7 September 2005


”VAVRO ORAVEC” - Exhibition to mark 90th Birthday of the artist
Gallery Millennium, Na Tržišti 5/370, Prague 1
8. 9. 2005 – 2. 10. 2005

Vavro Oravec was born in the Slovakian town of Tvrdošín in 1915. He studied medicine in Bratislava (1933-38) and then worked in hospitals in Bardějov and Nitra. After the establishment of the State of Slovakia (1938) he helped out in the Jewish Council’s office in Bratislava and taught Jewish children who had been expelled from school. He never took any lessons in painting. The only art education he received was a three-month retraining course in ceramics (run by Júlie Horová) in Bratislava in 1940, which he attended after being prohibited from practicing medicine. He was arrested in autumn 1944 and deported to Auschwitz, from where he was sent to a section of the Gross Rosen Camp in Blechhammer.
After the end of the war Vavro Oravec left for Prague where he studied stomatology at Charles University and he began work as a dentist. In his free time he tried his hand at painting and visited exhibitions, as well as attending a course of drawing lessons under Jan Bauch. He later sought out the advice of friends from the May 57 group of painters (R. Fremund, R. Piesen, J. Kolínská, J. Balcar, J. Rathouský, Z. Sekal, J. Švankmajer, ect). He first exhibited his work together with a group of doctor painters in 1955 in the E. F. Burian Theatre. It was at this time that he began to paint in a systematic way. Helped on by a natural talent, he was soon to master the basics of painting, but never lost his original naiveté, unique sensibility and distinct expression.
Three one-man shows in 1959, 1962 and 1965 came about as a result of his personal artistic development. He painted slowly, patiently, with great focus and intensity. He never acquired the technical assuredness and skill of a professional painter, a shortcoming he turned to his advantage. Although the reflections of various contemporary styles may be detected in his work, none of these are prevalent. He learnt to use them so they could serve to express his own experiences and ideas. Far more significant in his work is an intrinsic sense of unity which adds a distinct uniqueness and a personal tone. His work does not reveal any marked development or dramatic change.
For a long time, his work was almost exclusively centered on portraits. These are imaginary portraits, based on a deep affinity and relationship. The faces of children and young girls reflect his war-time experiences, tinged as they are with distinct sorrow. After the occupation of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 he immigrated to Bern, Switzerland. In exile brought new themes into his paintings recalling the terrifying experience from Auschwitz and the death marches. In his portraits he focused on his ancestors, parents, relatives and friends, as well as stylized portraits of his favorite authors. From the very beginning, however, his portraits of his kindred spirit Franz Kafka were predominant. These were later followed by portraits of Marcel Proust, Robert Walser, Hermann Hesse and Ernst Troller, as well as his favorite artists Amedeo Modigliani, Marc Chagall, Paul Klee and Karel Černý.
A specific body of work focuses on the ancient Jewish world: Hanukkah candle-sticks resembling the tree of life, tablets of the Law, parchments written in Hebrew, the Star of David and the blessing hands of the Kohens, familiar symbols on Jewish tombstones. Emphasis is on detail and thorough study, highlighting the uniqueness and distinct quality of each person, object or animal. „There is something mysterious in his paintings ... as if the remnants or echoes of some ancient culture were hidden within ... the patina of something that is not new, something that was experienced and cherished not only by the artist but by his ancestors...“, said Jaromír Pečírka of Vavro Oravec’s work in 1959.
This exhibition presents 34 paintings from the years 1969-1999, donated by the artist to the Jewish Museum in Prague.
The exhibition was prepared by Arno Pařík and the Millennium Gallery.
The exhibition at the Millennium Gallery (Na Tržišti 5/370, Prague 1) runs from 8 September until 2 October 2005, and is open daily 12 a.m. – 6 p.m., except Mondays.
For more information, please contact the Jewish Museum’s External Relations Department at the following address:
Jewish Museum in Prague, U Staré školy 1, 110 00, Praha 1
Tel.:+420-221 711 511 Fax: +420-224 819 458
E-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz

Press release
7 September 2005


”GEORG JILOVSKY (1884 – 1958)” - PRAGUE PAINTER AND GRAPHIC ARTIST
Jewish Museum in Prague, Robert Guttmann Gallery, U Staré školy 3, Praha 1
8 September 2005 – 6 November 2005

Georg Jilovsky is now known by only a few collectors of ex libris and graphic art, although his oeuvre is represented in a number of public and private collections.
Jilovsky was born on 15 March 1884 in the Vinohrady district of Prague. Growing up in a bilingual environment, he attended a Czech elementary school and used both the Czech and German forms of his name. Jilovsky went against his father’s will – like many of his contemporaries – and, in 1900, enrolled at Prague’s School of Decorative Arts, where he was taught by E. K. Liška and Jakub Schikaneder, as well as by Jan Preisler and Felix Jenewein. In 1904 he moved to the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, studying with Franz Thiele until 1907. After a brief study trip to Munich, he returned to Prague in 1908 and established a loft studio in Haštalská Street 6, which he used until the end of the 1930s. In 1904-1909, 1912 and 1914, he went on study trips to Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France. He became a member of the Society of German Fine Artists in Bohemia, Hagenbund and the Association of German Writers and Artists CONCORDIA. In 1915 he took part in the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, in February 1917 he held his first one-man show at the Rubešův Salon in Prague and, later, he exhibited in Ústí nad Labem, Brno, Linz, Vienna, Berlin, Breslau, Hamburg, Munich, Dresden and St. Louis. The exhibition of his ex libris was held in 1927 by the Krasoumná jednota in the Rudolfinum exhibition hall in Prague. While at the School of Decorative Arts, Jilovsky began to design invitations to balls, dance programmers, wedding announcements, postcards, exhibitions posters, books, industrial advertisements and, in particular, ex libris. Beginning from 1904 until 1951 Jilovsky made about 120 ex libris using various graphic techniques. He established a reputation as a fine artist with a series of effective graphic sheets, mostly from 1906-14, which contain atmospheric motifs from the nooks and lanes in the Old, Jewish and Lesser Towns and around Prague Castle. These works were often exhibited and immediately attracted critical attention.
His early style was one of high Art Nouveau decorativism. He later depicted atmospheric natural scenes and, in the 1920s, he was inspired mostly by ancient symbols and allegories. The most striking change in his style occurred in the 1930s with a move towards greater simplicity, contrastive drawing and symbolism. His clients were mostly from Prague’s intelligentsia, particularly doctors, lawyers, technicians and business people. The only well-known literary figure was the Prague poet and writer Oskar Wiener (1873-1944), with whom Jilovsky had a life-long friendship.
Jilovsky was also a capable painter. His paintings are mostly portraits and landscapes, but also include city vistas, genre scenes, still-life and decorative compositions. From the early portraits, which were painted with smooth and carefully shaded techniques, one can follow his development to a freer, palette-knifed painterly expression and an Art Deco style of portraiture through to the matter-of-fact realism of his last period.
From 1928 Jilovsky worked as a set designer for Prague’s New German Theatre. His most important set designs were for productions of the operas “The Hugenots” (1928), “The Marriage of Figaro” and “Romeo and Juliet” (1929). One of his most successful set designs was for a production of Weinberger’s opera “Schwanda der Dudelsackpfeifer” (1929). In 1931 Jilovsky received a State award for the set designs he created for the New German Theatre. At the time, he also made a series of caricatures of musicians, composers and performers for Prague newspapers, such as A. Zemlinsky, E. Schulhoff, director R. Stadler and critics F. Adler, E. Rychnovsky and E. Steinhard.
After the Nazi occupation, Jilovsky’s siblings and their families were deported to the Terezín ghetto, as was his eldest son Hanuš. On 3 September 1943, Jilovsky and his wife Marie were arrested for illicit correspondence with their son. In late September 1943, they were both deported to the Gestapo prison in Terezín. In February 1944 Jilovsky was sent to Auschwitz and his wife was sent to Ravensbrück Concentration Camp. In November 1944, Jilovsky with several other artists were transferred to Sachsenhausen, where they were joined a "counterfeiting gang". In late February 1945 the group was transferred to Mauthausen, in March to sub-camp Schlier in Redl-Zipf and finally to the Ebensee Concentration Camp, which was liberated by the US army on 6 May. Jilovsky returned to Prague on 21 May 1945. His sons Hanuš and Arnošt, however, had perished in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, his wife returned from Ravensbrück with tuberculosis of the lungs, from which she died in January 1948. From 1949 he was a member of The Society of Collectors and Friends of Ex-libris in Prague and also of the newly founded Association of Czechoslovak Artists. He died after a brief illness on 16 February 1958 at the age of 74 in Prague.
This exhibition features Jilovsky’s drawings, graphic work and paintings from the collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague, the Terezín Memorial, the National Gallery in Prague, and the National Museum in Prague, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague and the City of Prague Museum and private collectors. We would like to thank the latter for kindly loaning all material. The exhibition at the Robert Guttmann Gallery (U Staré školy 3, Prague 1) runs from 8 September until 6 November 2005, and is open daily 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., except Saturdays and
Jewish holidays.

For more information, please contact the Jewish Museum’s External Relations Department at the following address:
Jewish Museum in Prague, U Staré školy 1, 110 00, Praha 1
Tel.: +420-221 711 511 Fax: +420-224 819 458
E-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz

Press release
20 July 2005


”Those who see this picture won't sin”
Jewish folk art on parchment and paper

Jewish Museum in Prague, Robert Guttmann Gallery, U Staré školy 3, Praha 1
21 July 2005–28 August 2005

The Jewish Museum in Prague has prepared a new exhibition from its collection of manuscripts. It is curated by Olga Sixtová, the curator of the above collection. This exhibition is part of the series, ”Presentation of the Collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague”, which has been held on a regular basis in the Robert Gutmann Gallery since 2001.
This exhibition, which is of six weeks’ duration, presents for the first time devotional plaques from Jewish homes and synagogues dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Mostly wall plaques, less frequently small sheets for prayer books, these items served to uplift the piety and religious fervour of worshippers, while some also had a magical function. Most of the plaques in the collection of the Jewish Museum in Prague were donated to the synagogue as votive gifts, although some were made for personal use. This exhibition offers an intimate look at a lost world with its diverse symbolism drawing on Jewish tradition and folklore The items from Jewish households and synagogues that have been selected for this exhibition are not prescribed religious appurtenances. Pictures or texts-pictures that were made as an expression of folk piety at the margins of the canonical rituals of religious life, they became established in time as a necessary addition to, ornament for and commentary on such rituals. With words and pictorial symbols, they refer to certain religious obligations and to the basic concepts of Judaism; sometimes as amulets, they also call for protection against harm and disaster. Their essential, and sometimes only, means of expression and artistic medium is Hebrew script which, together with the Hebrew language, in Judaism, is considered to be holy and endowed with creative powers – for it was through the Torah written in these letters that God created the world.
Most of these pictures were made by learned men – trained scribes of Torah scrolls, phylacteries and mezuzot, rabbis and students at religious schools. Their natural material was parchment and paper and their most distinctive artistic medium was Hebrew calligraphy. The parchment or paper cut-out became a popular and widely available art technique in the Jewish milieu from the end of the seventeenth century onwards. Also on display are pictures painted on glass and embroideries that were handmade by folk artists and women. Some of these are on view in this exhibition as an addition to the folk work.
Most of the items on display here are shivitis – an integral part of the synagogue furnishings since the eighteenth century (the oldest shiviti bearing a date in the collection is from 1772). They are mostly textual and are usually written and, apart from the calligraphy, are decorated only with ornamental pen-and-ink drawings; less frequently they are richer in pictorial decoration. Also on display are the wall ornaments that appear in Jewish households, mizrah and ze ha-shulhan, which are incomparably simpler in terms of content and function. Aside from these regular decorative elements of synagogue and household furnishings, other textual and pictorial decorations were made for various occasions in the Jewish religious calendar.
It is often impossible to determine the main function of an individual item: alongside amulets that bring together several functions also appear mizrahs combined with shivitis or mizrahs that are used for commemorating the death of a family member (Yiddish Yarzeit). On one group of items that include shivitis, amulets and a ze ha-shulhan plaque we find texts urging people, as a kind of memento mori, to timely repentance and good deeds. A quotation from the text on one of these items has been chosen as the title of this exhibition, for it seems to capture the mission shared by all these expressions of folk piety and faith: ”Those who see this picture won't sin.”

The exhibition at the Robert Guttmann Gallery (U Staré školy 3, Prague 1) runs from 21 July until 28 August 2005, and is open daily 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., except Saturdays and Jewish holidays. For more information, please contact the Jewish Museum’s External Relations Department at the following address:
 
Jewish Museum in Prague, U Staré školy 1, 110 00, Praha 1
Tel.:+420-221 711 511 Fax:+420-224 819 458
e-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz

Press release
13 April 2005


“Since then I believe in fate …”
Transports of Protectorate Jews to the Baltic States in 1942

Jewish Museum in Prague, Robert Guttmann Gallery, U Staré školy 3, Prague 1
14 April – 10 July 2005

The exhibition, Since then I believe in fate – Transports of Protectorate Jews to the Baltic States in 1942, has been prepared by the Holocaust Department of the Jewish Museum in Prague, in association with the Terezín Memorial and the Terezín Initiative Institute, as a contribution to the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
The exhibition deals with the transports that were dispatched from the Terezín ghetto before 26 October 1942, when deportations to Auschwitz began. The first part of the exhibition focuses on the fate of Bohemian Jews who were transported between 9 January and 22 October 1942 to the Nazi-occupied Baltic states of Latvia and Estonia. The second part, which is currently under preparation, will be on deportations to Belarus and eastern Poland.
The fate of Bohemian Jews deported to these places has not previously been documented. Staff at the Museum’s Holocaust Department, headed by Dr. Jana Šplíchalová (the exhibition curator) and Lukáš Přibyl (a filmmaker and historian working with the Museum), however, have managed to bring together a unique collection of archival documents – including trial records with statements by Nazis and former inmates (from various archives, including the Bundesarchiv Ludwigsburg).
The recorded interviews with Shoah survivors will be presented in the spring of 2006 in a four-part documentary film made by Lukáš Přibyl. Some of the material brought together for this film can be seen in the exhibition.
The exhibition features hitherto little-known information not only on the ghettos and camps in this area, but also on the lives of the inmates who were forcibly dragged here. The curators have prioritised authentic testimony over mere factual accounts of historical events, and have provided scope for those who survived the horrors to convey their impressions and individual experiences.
The exhibition is the first to focus on the transports of Bohemian Jews to the Baltic states region. The unique materials brought together during a long-term research project are being presented for the first time in a comprehensive way, adding to what we know of the fate of the transports that left the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia to the east in 1942.

The exhibition has received financial support from the Air Navigation Services of the Czech Republic, Czech-Israeli Chamber of Commerce, and the Holocaust Survivors Foundation.

The exhibition was prepared in association with the Terezín Memorial and the Terezín Initiative Institute and with the financial support of the Foreign Institute of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Thanks for their kind support are due to Rabbi Norman R. Patz and students of his congregation Sholom West Essex in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, USA, who have donated US$1,000 towards further research into the transports of Czech Jews to concentration camps in Belarus, the Baltic States and Poland.

The exhibition will be on view at the Robert Guttmann Gallery in Prague (at U Staré školy 3) from 14 April until 10 July 2005. The gallery is open daily from 9am to 6pm, except for Saturdays and Jewish holidays.

For more information, please contact the Museum’s Publicity Department at:
 
U Staré školy 1, 3
110 00 Prague 1
Czech Republic
Tel.:+420-221 711 511, Fax:+420-224 819 458
E-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz

Press release
February 23, 2005


CYNTHIA BETH RUBIN & ROBERT J. GLUCK
LAYERED HISTORIES: THE WANDERING ›BIBLE OF MARSEILLES‹

Jewish Museum in Prague – Robert Guttmann Gallery, U Staré školy 3, 110 00 Prague
February 24 – March 27, 2005

The presentation is a part of the exhibition series Places of Memory, which explores the potential of public spaces as loci for remembrance and the interpretation of history.

The project is also part of the cycle Jewish Presence in Contemporary Visual Arts, which is now into its third year at the Robert Guttmann Gallery. The series focuses on the relation between contemporary visual culture and Judaism and is curated by Michaela Hájková.

“Layered Histories” is the imaginary story of a 13th century illuminated Hebrew manuscript, today known as the “Marseilles Bible.” It is an interactive work that mirrors the many layers of the manuscript as a beautiful work of art reflecting the convergence of cultures in medieval Spain, and as a narrative text of layered meanings.

The history of this manuscript is only partially known, leaving undocumented imagined wanderings to diverse places and peoples. Created in Toledo, Spain in c. 1260, the Bible visually embodies the multiple influences of Jewish convergence with Christian and Islamic cultures. After the 1492 Expulsion of Jews from Spain by Ferdinand of Arragon and Isabella of Castillia, it was brought out of Spain by the Jewish refugees. It traveled to the Ottoman town of Safed in Northern Galilee, where it was amongst religious mystics seeking the means to repair the ills of the world (Tikkun ha-Olam). It subsequently disappeared until around 1884, when, mysteriously, three volumes of the Bible were discovered in the collection of the Bibliotheque Municipale of Marseilles, where they reside today (BM Marseilles, MS 1626, I-III).

Reflecting on the experience of culture as a phenomenon that evolves from influences of place and cross-cultural contact, the non-linear narrative of Layered Histories is drawn from the possible wanderings of the Marseilles Bible, as it is known today. The work brings together moving images and sound, shifting and changing in response to gestures by a viewer across a digitalized surface. Evolved from real world photographs and sound samples, the sources are manipulated to reflect the aesthetic experience of place, movement, and change, rather than direct documentation. The images are morphed together to create fluid moving clips, and the sounds cross-fade from one to the next.

As a collaborative work, Layered Histories reflects the differing layers of vision of its authors. Music and image are melded together in the viewer's experience, but each follows a separate course of interactivity, coming together in the moment. Both music and image were developed within the vision of reflecting the experience of a timeless object which has seen history, much of the world, and has many stories to tell.

Cynthia Beth Rubin is a visual artist who has been working in the field of digital media and computer graphics since its pioneering times in the 1980’s. For her work, widely exhibited and discussed around the world she received many grants and awards (the Connecticut Commission of the Arts, Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, New England Foundation on the Arts). She exhibited worldwide, namely at the NY Digital Salon, ArCADE, SIGGRAPH, ISEA, and Imagina by INA (Institut National de l’Audiovisuel, France). Rubin holds degrees from Antioch College and the Maryland Institute, College of Art, and teaches part-time at the Rhode Island School of Design. More information about her work can be found at www.cbrubin.net.

Robert J. Gluck is a composer, performer and educator. His compositions, often integrating sounds and music from the Jewish culture, have been performed in Europe and the United States. Gluck composes music for interactive performance and installation, directs the University at Albany Electronic Music Studio and is Associate Director of the Electronic Music Foundation (www.emfinstitute.emf.org). He studied at the Julliard, Manhattan and Crane schools of music and also holds degrees from the University at Albany, Yeshiva University, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Samples of his work and recording of his life performances can be found at www.electricsongs.com.

Journalists as well as general public will have a unique opportunity to meet one of the artists, music composer and performer, Robert J. Gluck, during his short visit of Prague. Robert J. Gluck will attend the press conference and the opening at the Robert Guttmann Gallery; the following day, on Thursday, February 24, at 5 p.m., he will present examples of his projects and music performances at the Prague Woodrow Wilson Center of the US Embassy, Tržiště 15, Prague 1.

The exhibition runs from February 24 until March 27, 2005 and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., apart from Saturdays and Jewish holidays.

For more information, please contact the Jewish Museum’s Public Relations Department at:
Jewish Museum in Prague
U Staré školy 1, 3
110 00 Prague 1
Tel.: +420-221 711 585, Fax: +420-222 749 300
e-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
www.jewishmuseum.cz

Partners: U.S. Embassy Prague
Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity, Los Angeles

 

Press release
January 20, 2005


ISSUE OF A SPECIAL MINIATURE SHEET
THE FATE OF PETR GINZ’S “MOON LANDSCAPE”

On 20 January 2005, the Czech Ministry of Informatics will be issuing a special miniature sheet featuring an image of the Petr Ginz moonscape drawing, with a nominal value of CZK 31. Born into a Jewish family in Prague, Petr Ginz (1928-1944) was a multi-talented boy from an early age who wrote for his school magazine. On 24 October 1942, he was deported to the Terezín ghetto, where he continued to write articles and draw pictures; these have been preserved thanks to a friend who survived the Holocaust. Ginz’s drawings are kept at the Yad Vashem Art Museum, Jerusalem.
Featured on the stamp is an image of Petr Ginz’s famous pencil drawing entitled “Moon Landscape” – a view of the Earth as seen from the Moon. The cruel fate of Petr Ginz, who perished in Auschwitz in the autumn of 1944, was tragically repeated in the Columbia shuttle disaster. Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon took a copy of Ginz’s drawing with him into space in an attempt to fulfill the dream of Petr Ginz 58 years on. On 1 February 2003, however, the space shuttle Columbia exploded, killing all seven astronauts as the ship re-entered Earth’s atmosphere following a 16-day mission. The stamp also contains a portrait of Petr Ginz and the text “MOON LANDSCAPE – TEREZÍN – 1942-1944, PETR GINZ (1928-1944).”
The stamp was designed by Pavel Hrach and engraved by Václav Fajt. The stamp (26 x 40mm) and miniature sheet (76 x 116mm) were made by Poštovní tiskárna cenin Praha, a.s., using a black recess print from flat plates combined with full-colour offset printing. The miniature sheet depicts the Columbia shuttle in flight and contains the text “THE PETR GINZ DRAWING IS OWNED BY THE YAD VASHEM ART MUSEUM, JERUSALEM.”
A first day cover and a special postmark are being issued in conjunction with the stamp. The drawing on the cover depicts the lift-off of the space shuttle Columbia. The cover engraving is greyish-blue and was made using a recess print from flat plates.
The stamp has the catalogue number A 422 and is valid from 20 January 2005 until recalled.

Jewish Museum in Prague
Česká pošta, s.p.
Union of Czech Philatelists

 

Press release
January 19, 2005


Aleš Veselý
THREE GATES
Project for Pinkas Street in Prague

Jewish Museum in Prague, Robert Guttmann Gallery, U Staré školy 3, Prague 1
January 20 – February 13, 2005

Presentation of Aleš Veselý’s project for the revitalization of Pinkas Street in Prague is entitled Three Gates and is part of a thematic block, Places of Memory, which seeks to present projects that explore the possibilities of commemorating and interpreting our history in a public space. Places of Memory are also part of the series Jewish Presence in Contemporary Visual Arts, which is now into its third year at the Robert Guttmann Gallery. The series focuses on the relation between contemporary visual culture and Judaism and is curated by Michaela Hájková.
Situated between the garden of the Museum of Decorative Arts, the Old Jewish Cemetery and the Pinkas Synagogue, Pinkas Street is one of the few remaining sections of the original street network of Josefov, the fifth quarter of Prague and until 1848 the Jewish ghetto.
In the course of the urban renewal which, at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, transformed the structure of the former ghetto and the adjoining parts of the Old Town, the south end of Pinkas Street had to give way to a new, more generously conceived, street network. As a result of this it was swallowed up by today’s Široká Street and only about a half of its original length was preserved. All the apartment buildings along both sides of the street were pulled down in 1907 and were replaced by walls that separated what used to be a public road from private plots (garden of the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Old Jewish Cemetery). As a result of these changes, the entire Pinkas Synagogue complex, including the adjacent street, remained deep below the new street level. Pinkas Street, then, lost its original function, becoming a defunct space. Today, however, it is one of the few places that can still recall the lost face of the Jewish ghetto.
Pinkas Street is now part of a private plot owned by the Prague Jewish Community and administered by the Jewish Museum in Prague. For the time being, the area of the former street is not accessible to the public. It is separated from the public space by railings and can be entered only from the south-west vestibule of the Pinkas Synagogue (since the 1950s the Memorial to the 80,000 victims of the Shoah from Bohemia and Moravia, which is part of the Jewish Museum’s sightseeing tour, as is the adjoining Old Jewish Cemetery). Situated as it is next to prominent and much frequented sites of the Jewish Town, which represent key places of memory in Prague history, Pinkas Street deserves to be revitalized and opened to the public. As a natural connection between the Pinkas Synagogue area and the Old Jewish Cemetery, it may provide visitors with an interesting alternative in the tour route of the Museum.
However, because the street lost its original character and purpose, it is necessary to find a new form of spatial articulation for it. With this end in mind, Professor Aleš Veselý has designed a project for Pinkas Street entitled “Three Gates”.
This project involves a sculptural environment in the form of three gates which take up about two thirds of the present length of the street. The first of these gates is installed in such a way as to not disturb the view of the west façade of the Pinkas Synagogue with its large stained-glass window. All three gates are positioned in the corridor of the street as a self-supporting structure that does not require any additional anchorage in the adjoining walls or in the synagogue building.
The Three Gates project constitutes a multi-layered structure which touches upon many themes. This follows, on the one hand, from the universal use of the gate as one of the basic archetypes existing across cultures, religions and philosophical systems and, on the other, from the site-specific quality of the proposed environment placed right at the boundary between spaces of an antithetical nature: the space of the living (street) and the dead (cemetery), the profane (street) and the sacred (synagogue and cemetery), the public and the private. During the existence of the ghetto, Pinkas Street was situated at its very edge. Even today, therefore, it can still suggest an imaginary boundary between two worlds that are distinct in terms of culture, religion and ethnicity, and at the same time can symbolize their interconnection.

The exhibition features a 1:10 scale model of the project and computer visualization that simulates passage through the sculptural environment in the form of a projection, as well as selected sketches and technical drawings.
The exhibition runs from January 20 until February 13, 2005 and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., apart from Saturdays and Jewish holidays.

For more information, please contact the Jewish Museum’s Public Relations Department at: Jewish Museum in Prague
U Staré školy 1, 3
110 00 Prague 1
Tel.: +420-221 711 585
Fax: +420-222 749 300
e-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz

 

Press release
13 October 2004


Alexandr Brandeis & Adolf Wiesner
The Patron of Arts and his Son-in-law
The Jewish Museum in Prague, Gallery of Robert Guttmann, U Staré školy 3, Praha 1
from 14 October 2004 to 9 January 2005

A family history
This exhibition recalls the Brandeis and Wiesner families of Prague and looks at the lives and works of several of their members. Many of the family members had a close relationship with art and with the Czech national movements. The main focus here is on two figures have made their mark on the history of Czech art – the patron of Czech artists Alexandr Brandeis and his son-in-law, the Prague artist and portraitist Adolf Wiesner.

Alexandr Brandeis and the Czech Artists of the National Theatre Generation
At the beginning of this story is the exceptional figure of Alexandr Brandeis (1848-1901), the ‘Potato Maecenas of Suchdol’. He was a patron of the arts, but mainly a friend of the leading Czech artists of the second half of the 19th century. At the Suchdol Chateau Brandeis created a small courtyard, where he received visits from young artists, who paid for his hospitality with their presence and, sometimes, with artworks. Brandeis’ friendship and the cordial atmosphere of his young family, together with the unforced conviviality and jollity of the Suchdol parties created an unusually attractive environment for artists. Most of the artists of the National Theatre generation met here. Among the painters who visited Suchdol were František Ženíšek, Mikoláš Aleš, Václav Brožík, Josef Tulka, Emanuel K. Liška, Antonín Chittussi, Jakub Schikaneder, Hanuš Schweiger, Václav Kavka, Albín Lhota and František Štraybel. Other visitors included the sculptors J. V. Myslbek, Josef Mauder and Hugo Schüllinger, architects Jan Zeyer and Antonín Wiehl, and writers Julius Zeyer and Jaroslav Vrchlický, as well as Dr. Josef Thomayer and R. J. Kronbauer.
Alexandr Brandeis’s relationship to art affected the whole family atmosphere, as well as the lives of some of his children. His eldest daughter Helena (1877-1975) began to draw and paint as a child and later went to the art school of Antonín Slavíček. In 1903, she left for Paris, where she met Adolf Wiesner, who was already well-known painter at the time. Like Brandeis, Wiesner was also a supporter of the Czech national movement and an admirer of Mikoláš Aleš, the respected first president of the Mánes Association.

Adolf Wiesner and the Association of Fine Artists MANES
The painter Adolf Wiesner (1871–1942) belonged to pupils of prof. Vojtěch Hynais at the Prague Academy, who were the first to introduce Czech art to a wave of new contemporary art trends, aiming primarily for a mastery of colour and light effects in painting. As a member of the revivalist Mánes Association (found in 1887) under the guidance of Stanislav Sucharda, it was Adolf Wiesner who gave the decisive impulse toward the founding of an independent art journal of Czech Modernism ‘Volné Směry’ (Free Directions). He was one of the first members of the Mánes Association to require modernists to speak to the Czech public about the new art and the freer trends that were emerging in art. On the cover of the first issue of ‘Volné směry’, which was published in November 1896, a young man with a palette pushes forward through thorny undergrowth towards artistic freedom. The first volumes of ‘Volné směry’ featured Wiesner’s work and texts, and Wiesner was active as a member of the editorial board. He was also among those who strove to get separate exhibition space for new Czech art and participated with others on the first exhibitions of the Mánes Association in the Topič Salon.
At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, Wiesner came to the fore as a distinctive artist, noted for his well thought out and executed paintings. He was a painter of figurative compositions and portraits, although his most popular works were melancholic landscapes and genre-based paintings. Between 1900 and 1910 he was mostly in Paris, where he met Alfons Mucha and other Czech artists and regularly exhibited his paintings at the ‘Salon des Artistes Francais’. After his return to Prague, he became one of the leading Prague portraitists. Apart from a large amount of portraits of girls, married couples and children, he often portrayed his own wife Helena, her sister Irma and the other members of the Brandeis family. His clientele was almost exclusively from the Prague Jewish society, which is why so few of his portraits have been preserved. Most of them were destroyed during the Holocaust, as were the lives and properties of their owners.
After the Nazi Occupation of the Czech lands on 15 March 1939, most of Brandeis’s grandchildren managed to escape abroad. Adolf and Helena Wiesner stayed in Prague and on 6 July 1942 were both deported to the Terezín ghetto. Three months after arriving in Terezín, Adolf Wiesner died on 10 October 1942 at the age of 72. Helena Wiesner survived the Terezín ghetto and later she left to stay with the family of her son René in England.
René Wiesner (1904-1974), the son of Adolf and Helena Wiesner, became a Prague architect and expert in the glass and concrete construction; many examples of its use can still be found in Prague to this day. The daughter of Brandeis’s youngest daughter Irma Kubin (1882-1979) Karla married Emil Weiss (1896-1965), who was a skilful caricaturist, graphic artist and poster designer in 1930s Prague. During and after the war, he was a political cartoonist for English and American newspapers in London and New York.
Brandeis’s grandchildren are represented at this exhibition by Erika Stránská (1930-1944), the granddaughter of Brandeis’s daughter Otilie Stiassná (1878-1920). In 1942, Erika was deported to the Terezín ghetto, where she took part in clandestine art lessons. A whole series of her drawings, which are the last testimony to her life, have been preserved in the collection of the Jewish Museum in Prague. Shortly before her 14th birthday, she was deported to Auschwitz, where she perished in the gas chambers.
A number of Brandeis’s great grandchildren have contributed to this exhibition. The Jewish Museum in Prague would like to thanks the members of the Wiesner family in the UK, the White, Kubin and Weiss families in the USA and the Sedmík, Kosák, Fanta and Skála families in Prague for providing family documents for this exhibition. We would also like to thanks all the institutions that have loaned paintings by Adolf Wiesner to this exhibition.
The catalogue in Czech and English version was published to the exhibition. The curator of the exhibition is PhDr. Arno Pařík. The exhibition is opened from 14 October 2004 to 9 January 2005 in the Gallery of Robert Guttmann, Prague 1, U Staré školy Street 3. The Gallery is opened daily from 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., except Saturdays and the Jewish Holidays. Address: [email] arno.parik[at]jewishmuseum.cz
If you would like to get more information, please contact the Public relations department of the Jewish Museum in Prague, U Staré školy St. 1, 3, 110 00 Praha 1,
Tel.: +420-221 711 585, Fax: +420-222 749 300
e-mail: [email]  noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
www.jewishmuseum.cz
 

 

Press release
29 September 2004


The Jewish Museum Prague is celebrating the tenth anniversary of its independent existence

On the first of October, it will be the tenth anniversary of the Jewish Museum in Prague reverting to its original name, having assumed a different title for over 50 years. An independent institution for ten years and consistently the most visited museum in the Czech Republic, it has become the embodiment of the modern history of Bohemian and Moravian Jews. Its cultural and historical sites have become well sought-after by many important Czech and international figures.

It has been ten important years for the Jewish Museum in Prague, in which far more was achieved than in the previous period. By repairing and reconstruction five historic sites, particularly synagogues, in Prague’s former Jewish Town, and by setting up new permanent exhibitions within their walls, the Museum has created an accurate and absorbing picture of the Jewish past in Bohemia and Moravia from the 10th century onwards. A wholly self-supporting special-interest association of legal entities, the Jewish Museum is not state-funded, as are all the other major museums in the Czech Republic.

“In the last ten years we have invested tens of millions of Czech crowns into opening new permanent exhibitions in renovated spaces,” the Museum Director, Dr. Leo Pavlát said. „In addition to repairing and reconstructing historic buildings, we have ensured the restoration of hundreds of tombstones in the famous Old Jewish Cemetery and are devoting great care to the restoration and evaluation of its exhibits. Our success is borne out by the fact that our exhibitions attract over half a million visitors each year. As well as museum and exhibition work, we are also developing the activities of our Education and Cultural Centre,” Dr. Pavlát added.

The Jewish Museum’s Education and Culture Centre has been in operation since 1996. Its main function is to provide a broad range of educational programmes for children and youth. The lectures, interactive art and drama-based educational programmes and projects are intended mainly for pupils and students of elementary and high schools and universities. One of the many activites of the Centre is the Neighbours who Disappeared project, which has been running since 1999. Its objective is to make young people (aged 12-18) aware of the fate of Jewish families from their neighbourhoods who perished during the Second World War. The students gather information from school and district archives, interviews, documents and personal meetings with Holocaust survivors and witnesses, and then write up a literary-documentary report. As of the summer of 2004, the project has involved the participation of more than one hundred individuals and groups from elementary and high schools.

The Jewish Museum has prepared a number of cultural and social events for its anniversary celebrations. On Tuesday 5 October, the Spanish Synagogue will host a concert by the cellist Jiří Bárta and harpist Jana Boušková. This will be attended by major political and cultural representatives and a number of Prague-based ambassadors.


For more information contact:
Noemi Holeková,
e-mail: [email]  noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
Jewish Museum in Prague
U staré školy 1, 3, 110 00 PRAGUE 1
TEL.: 224 81 94 56
FAX: 234 81 94 58
 

 

 

Press release
August 11, 2004


MEL ALEXENBERG : CYBERANGELS
AESTHETIC PLAN FOR THE MIDDLE EAST
Jewish Museum in Prague, Robert Guttmann Gallery, U Staré školy 3, Prague 1
August 12 - September 26, 2004

The Jewish Museum in Prague has prepared a new exhibition in association with the renowned Israel-based American Jewish artist, Mel Alexenberg. Entitled Cyberangels, the exhibition is focused on an aesthetic peace plan for the Middle East.

The exhibition is part of the ongoing series Jewish Presence in Contemporary Visual Art (now into its second year) at the Robert Guttmann Gallery, which is focused on exploring the relation between Judaism and contemporary visual culture. The curator is Michaela Hájková. This is an experimental curatorial project, the aim of which is to contribute to the debate on the position and role of minorities in the globalized media and visual art world.

The aim of this exhibition project is to actively involve the viewer in the artwork by using modern technology and to support plurality in art, dialog and a crossing of language and social barriers. The outcome of the project will be an interactive gallery installation with several computer stations from which visitors will be able to send out a message of peace in the form of a computer angel. The installation will be supplemented with prints of artistic computer graphics that reflect the current situation in Israel as seen by the artist.

Mel Alexenberg is known to the wider public as the guest curator of the legendary exhibition LightsOROT. As part of this exhibition, he presented four of his own projects that took shape in 1987. One of these was the installation Rembrandt's Light, which incorporated the image of a computer angel taken from a Rembrandt etching. Since the LightsOROT exhibition, Rembrandt angels have made frequent appearances in Alexenberg's public art events.

In Alexenberg's conception of art as a creative and responsive system, computer angels are the bearers of a spiritual message, the content of which is realized / materialized in our world through art works.

In the installation Cyberangels - Aesthetic Peace Plan for the Middle East, which is being presented at the Robert Guttmann Gallery, Alexenberg has given the Rembrandt angels, symbols of European culture, 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. Alexenberg's proposal for an aesthetic peace plan for the Middle East should be seen as a subjective artistic testimony which however, in a highly original way, reveals analogies that unfortunately tend to become lost in the vortex of religious and political debates.

Accompanying press materials will also be issued for the exhibition. The exhibition will include a lecture by Professor Alexenberg on Thursday August 12, 2004, 7 p.m. at the Robert Guttmann Gallery.



Our special thanks also go to His Excellency, Mr. Arthur Avnon, Ambassador of the State of Israel to the Czech Republic, under whose auspices the exhibition is being held.
We are also indebted to the following partners: College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel, Israel, and Professor Michael Bielicky, Head of the New Media Department I at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts, Nomad Carpet Shop & Gallery Lucerna, Prague, and CD-Foto Bler of Prague.
Last but not least, we would like to thank the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity, an LA-based non-profit educational institution, for providing financial support for the exhibition.

The exhibition runs from August 12 till September 26, 2004 at the Robert Guttmann Gallery, U Staré školy 3, Prague 1.
The gallery is open daily 9 a.m.- 6 p.m., except Saturdays and Jewish holidays



contact: [email]  michaela.sidenberg[at]jewishmuseum.cz

For more information, please contact the Public Relations Department of the Jewish Museum in Prague at the following address:
Jewish Museum in Prague
U Staré školy 1, 3
110 00 Praha 1
Tel.: +420-221 711 585
Fax: +420-222 749 300
e-mail: [email]  noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz
www.jewishmuseum.cz

 

 

Press release
23 June 2004


Laces from the Collections
of the Jewish Museum in Prague
On 24 June 2004, the Jewish Museum in Prague is opening a new exhibition from the series, Presentation from the Collections of the Museum, in the Robert Guttmann Gallery. The curator is Dana Veselská.

The exhibition of laces from the collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague has been prepared for the eleventh World Lace Congress, which is being hosted by Prague in June. The exhibited selection presents a broad spectrum of bobbin laces not only on synagogue textiles, but also on garments and clothing accessories. The exhibition also includes portraits from the Jewish Museum’s art collection.

All the known textile techniques and materials are represented in the diverse textile collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague. The Museum’s depositories also store a number of items whose ornamentation involves the use of bobbin lace in various forms. These synagogue and ceremonial textiles, garments and accessories, made over the course of almost four centuries, have not been presented to the public and specialists until this year. On the occasion of the eleventh World Lace Congress, organised by OIDFA (Organisation Internationale de la Dentelle au Fuseau et a l'Aiguille) in Prague, the Jewish Museum prepared an exhibition to mark the completion of a several-year research project into its collection of bobbin laces, which was supported financially by the Czech Ministry of Culture.

The Jewish Museum’s collection of textiles decorated with bobbin lace are an exceptionally precious set, the importance of which consists mainly in the uniquely preserved, comprehensive information available concerning the makers and the time and place the items were made. On the basis of a long-term research project into the textile collection, it has been possible to mark out certain turning points, particularly in the production of yard metal bobbin laces, and to accurately date the occurrence of certain lace-making and passement techniques. We are glad to have this opportunity to show you the results of this research.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue which presents a cross-section of all the types of lace in the textile collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague (120 pages, over 100 illustrations).

The exhibition project has been supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic. We would also like to thank LOTECH DESIGN spol. s r.o. for its support in the preparation of the exhibition.

The exhibition runs from 24 June 2004 to 22 July 2004 at the Robert Guttmann Gallery in Prague (address: U Staré školy 3, Prague 1)
Exhibitions are open daily, except for Saturdays and Jewish holidays : 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Exhibition curator: Dana Veselská, [email] dana.veselska[at]jewishmuseum.cz

For more information, please contact the Public Relations Department of the Jewish Museum in Prague at U Staré školy 1, 3, 110 00, Prague 1
Tel.: +420-221 711 585 Fax: +420-222 749 300
e-mail: [email] noemi.holekova[at]jewishmuseum.cz

Announcement of the results of a competition for the best design and execution of a Star of David motif

Press release
23 June 2004



A competition for the best design and execution of the symbol of Judaism – the Star of David – has been held by the Jewish Museum in Prague and the specialist magazine Krajka (Lace) for the exhibition ”Laces from the collections Jewish Museum in Prague”. Designs could be in bobbin lace or needle lace and were restricted to an A4 format. The competition met with extraordinary interest from lace specialists. Twenty-five people took part, entering twenty-eight designs.
The standard of the competition was highly appraised by a specialist jury, which included Judaists, as well as specialists in lace techniques. Sixteen designs were appraised and four received financial rewards. The winning designs will be on display in the vestibule of the Robert Guttmann Gallery throughout the duration of the exhibition and will later be included in the Jewish Museum’s holdings.


The jury, which met on 8 June 2004, comprised:
Rabbi Dr. Samuel M.Abramson, Ph.D., rabbi at the Jerusalem Synagogue in Prague
PhDr. Alexandr Putík, Judaist
Mgr. Alena Mašková, specialist teacher at the Secondary School of Art for Textile Trades in Prague
Anna Halíková, Chair of the Civic Association Krajka (Lace)
Mgr. Dana Veselská, curator of the JMP textile collection and curator of the exhibition

Competition results:

first place award (financial reward of CZK 2,500): design no. 4 – Iva Vanžurová

first place award (financial reward of CZK 2,500): design no. 16 – Lucie Dörflová

second place award (financial reward of CZK 1,500): design no. 3 – Světlana Pavlíčková

third place award (financial reward of CZK 1,000): design no. 18. – Jaroslava Šochová


 

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