Jewish Museum Vienna in Wien

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The Jüdisches Museum Wien, or the Jewish Museum Vienna, is a museum of Jewish history, life and religion in Austria. The present museum was founded in 1988 in the Palais Eskeles in the Dorotheergasse, Vienna, and has distinguished itself by a very active programme of exhibitions.


The first Jewish Museum in Vienna, founded in 1896, was the first Jewish museum in the world of its sort. It was supported and run by the "Society for the Collection and Preservation of Artistic and Historical Memorials of Jewry". By 1913, when it moved into the Talmud-Thora-School in Leopoldstadt with 3,400 objects, it had already moved premises several times. Immediately after the Anschluss by Nazi Germany in 1938 the museum was closed, and its contents were distributed among the Museum of Ethnology (Museum für Völkerkunde), the Natural History Museum (Naturhistorisches Museum Wien) and other repositories. The Natural History Museum used its new acquisitions to mount the anti-Semitic exhibition "The Corporeal and Spiritual Properties of the Jews".

On 31 December 1964 a little Jewish museum was opened in the newly-built Desider-Friedmann-Hof in Tempelgasse 3, but received scarcely any public attention. It closed for renovation work in 1967 and was never reopened.

In 1986 the establishment of a new Jewish museum in Vienna was announced by the then Bürgermeister, Helmut Zilk, in New York at the opening of the exhibition "Vienna 1900 - Art, Architecture and Design". On the foundation committee, among many others, were representatives of the Austrian state, the city of Vienna, the Jewish Community in Vienna, the Vienna Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein and Helmut Zilk.

After its foundation in 1988 as a limited company under the management of director Christian Cap the museum was given the management of the Max Berger Collection and the IKG Collection. In 1993 Martin Schlaff presented to the city of Vienna his collection of antisemitica, containing about 5,000 objects, and covering a period from 1490 to 1946, so that they could be catalogued and prepared for a major exhibition.

In 1993 the Palais Eskeles in the Dorotheergasse in Vienna was put at the disposal of the museum by the auction house Dorotheum. Julius H. Schoeps, director of the Moses Mendelssohn Zentrum für europäisch-jüdische Studien at the University of Potsdam, was appointed director.

On 24 November 1994 Paul Grosz, president of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien, opened the museum library.

In 1995/1996 the Palais Eskeles was given its present shape by the Viennese team of architects eichinger oder knechtl. The modernisation created more convenient display spaces and increased storage, and added a coffee house, the Café Teitelbaum, and a specialist bookshop, the Bookshop Singer. With the reopening of the premises and the end of the development phase of the museum Schoeps resigned as director and passed the artistic direction of the museum to its long-serving project coordinator, Karl Albrecht-Weinberger.

Museum Judenplatz

On 28 September 1998 the foundation stone of the new offsite premises in the Misrachi-Haus on the Judenplatz was laid. In the Museum Judenplatz, opened on 25 October 2000, the social, cultural and religious life of the Jews of Vienna is documented through the Middle Ages up to the pogrom of the First Vienna Geserah of 1421. In the excavation space some 4.5 metres below the modern street level can be seen the foundations of the medieval synagogue.