CARE OF THE COLLECTION
The Jewish Museum in Prague devotes exceptional care to the objects in its collections with respect to their historical and cultural value, importance and age. This mainly involves their storage, protection and restoration, as well as documentation and registration.
The storage of collection pieces
The museum's collections are stored in several depositories that are located mainly in heritage-protected historic buildings. Despite this evident disadvantage, the museum staff do what they can to ensure that all the climatic and security standards are met. The museum has made-to-measure storage systems that have been specially designed with respect both to the amount and character of the collection pieces and to the specific nature of the interior spaces of each building.
Torah curtains, for example, are kept in storage containers with drawers, the interior dimensions of which have been adapted to hold the largest textiles. A custom-built electric trolley is used for moving these large pieces as required. Other textiles are kept in smaller containers with drawers, on stands or on pull-out tables. The most valuable and the oldest textiles are kept in a small, fully climate-controlled repository. Information about the textile repository is also provided in the deluxe catalogue Textiles from Bohemian and Moravian Synagogues.
Standard dust-free cases that are designed to maintain a stable climate are used for the collection of metal and three-dimensional objects, including synagogue silver, pewter and brass objects, ceramics, glass and furniture. The visual arts collection – which includes the children's drawings from the Terezín ghetto and artworks by adult prisoners in Terezín – and the collection of manuscripts and genizah papers are kept in fully climate-controlled, dust-free storage facilities that have been recently reconstructed. Each artefact is hung on a sliding screen or stored on a shelf in an acid-free cardboard box, protected with Melinex folio covers or mats.
The Collections Management Department
The Collections Management Department mainly oversees the technical care of the collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague.
This department gathers information relating to individual objects in the museum's collections and records them in several registration systems – notably, the museum's accession register, which is also a legal ownership record of the acquired item, and in the museum's database system, from which it prints registration cards that are placed in the relevant catalogues. It takes care of the museum's historical sources of information, primarily the 'German Catalogue', which is a card-based register of items acquired by the museum during the Second World War. It also maintains the registration of items deposited in the museum by their owners, items from the 'Auxiliary Collection' which are used for exhibitions in more difficult climatic conditions or are provided for liturgical purposes, and items from the museum's collections that have been designated as cultural heritage objects.
The department regularly carries out inventory checks to see that the condition of objects in the collections match the registration records. All changes to the museum's collections are reported to the Central Register of Collections at the Czech Ministry of Culture, in which they have been entered since 2001.
In addition, the department is responsible for the storage of collection pieces in depositories and, in collaboration with colleagues (e.g., restorers), for checking their technical state and for ensuring that they are kept in ideal climatic and secure conditions.
The department deals with all loans of objects from the museum's collections for liturgical, exhibition, restoration or other purposes, preparing all the necessary contracts and documents. It also carries out provenance research for objects in the museum's collections and checks all the supporting documents for restitution claims. Through its own research, the department also gathers information about the history of the museum and about the development of its collections. Questions from researchers with regard to these topics are also dealt with. As part of a long-term project, it is involved in searching for and securing the documentation of Judaica at other museums in the Czech Republic.
Last but not least, the department also registers and, in collaboration with the museum's curators, provides certification for the short-term or permanent export of Judaica from the Czech Republic in accordance with Act 71/1994 Coll, on the sale and export of objects of cultural value, as amended by later regulations.