JEWISH MUSEUMS IN EUROPE: GENESIS AND PROFILE
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In the last decades of the 20th c. and following 2000, a real 'boom' in founding Jewish museums throughout Europe could be observed. A lot of new institutions were established, and old ones were modernized. All this resulting from the growing urge to overcome silence over the Holocaust, to square up with the past, and to open the debate on the multiethnicity of the history of Europe. This, in turn, was favoured by the occurring phenomena: Europe’s integration, the fall of the Iron Curtain, and the development of democratic civil societies. New Jewish museums established in Europe, though inevitably making a reference to the Shoah, are not Holocaust museums as such, and they do not tell the story of the genocide. Their goal is mainly to restore the memory of the centuries of the Jewish presence in a given country, region, and town: they tell this story as part of the history of the given place, and aim at having it incorporated into the official national history. Moreover, their mission is to show the presence and importance of the Jewish heritage in today’s world, as well as to ask questions related to Jewish identity in contemporary Europe. The civilizational conflicts that arose after the relatively peaceful 1990s, outlined a new framework for the activity of Jewish museums which, interestingly, gradually go beyond the peculiar Jewish experience in order to reach a universal level. With such activities they try to promote pluralism and multicultural experience, shape inclusive attitudes, give voice to minorities, speak out against all the manifestations of discrimination and exclusion. Since these museums deal with such sensitive challenging issues, they have to well master the structure of their message on every level: that of architecture, script, exhibition layout, and accompanying programmes, thanks to which they unquestionably contribute to creating new standards and marking out new trends in today’s museology as well as in museum learning.
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