Science and research
The Jewish Museum in Prague was founded as an academic institution which, through collecting activities and other scholarly work, sought primarily to document and research traditional Jewish culture, which at a time of modernization and secularization was endangered and rapidly disappearing. This is why, until the Second World War, the museum's collecting activities were focused mainly on documenting Jewish culture in its traditional form in the pre-emancipation era. At the Central Jewish Museum – which was founded with Nazi approval during the Second World War – Jewish specialists did what they could to preserve as much of the Jewish heritage as possible. After the war, the museum staff regarded – and still regard – to be of key importance the research into and commemoration of the Shoah, which involves ascertaining the names of victims and documenting the persecution of Jews in the Bohemian lands.
The museum's scholarly work, however, is not limited only to ethnography and Shoah commemoration. Its specialist projects seek to explore the history and culture of the Jews in the Bohemian lands in the broader context of the development of Central and Eastern Europe. Seeing the Jewish communities of Bohemia and Moravia as part of a trans-national Jewish culture, these investigations focus on the mutual influences that these groups exerted on each other, as well as on migration. Research into Jewish interactions with the non-Jewish world, cultural transfers and the broad range of various forms of cultural exchange is of particular importance. We are exploring the history of the Jews in the Bohemian lands as part of an ethnically, linguistically, religiously and culturally diverse society. Hence the need also to analyze the position of the Jewish minority after the Second World War in the context of the ethnic cleansing of the Bohemian lands and of the broadened ideas about how the Bohemian lands are and should be an ethnically homogeneous area.
The Jewish Museum's research projects involve a plurality of approaches, including historical research, art history, ethnology and many other subjects. They range from projects that improve our understanding of the museum's extensive collections through to documentation (for example, of Jewish cemeteries) and active research in archives and other museums. . Vis another important part of the museum's specialist work on the basis of its collections. The museum's research results are featured in its permanent and temporary exhibitions and are incorporated into educational programmes.
Published since 1964, the Jewish Museum's journal judaica-bohemiae, has become one of the most important scholarly platforms for presenting the results of recent research into the history and culture of the Jews in Bohemia and Moravia. At present, this journal with impact factor is published twice a year. The texts are published in English and German.
The Jewish Museum aims to have the closest possible co-operation with other academic institutions in the Czech Republic and abroad. It is, for example, a part of the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure and it collaborates with the Philosophy Faculty of Charles University at the Prague Centre for Jewish Studies. In co-operation with the Institute of Contemporary History at the Czech Academy of Sciences, it organizes a seminar on modern Jewish history and prepares a special book series.