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Daniel Libeskind and the Danish Jewish Museum

In designing the Danish Jewish Museum, Daniel Libeskind has taken as his starting point a unique feature of Danish Jewish history: that the majority of Danish Jews were saved from Nazi persecution by their Danish fellow citizens during the Second World War. It is this human commitment that is symbolized in the shape, structure and light of the museum.

The landmark and concept for the museum is the Hebrew word Mitzvah, which can be interpreted as both "obligation", "felt reaction", "commitment" and "good deed". The word Mitzvah stands for the generally positive Jewish experience in Denmark and the special experience of being saved, and has also become part of the museum's logo.


A unique historical space

The museum is built into an existing historical space and thus forms part of a unique context. The galley house was built at the beginning of the 17th century by Christian IV.
When the Royal Library was built in 1906, the Galley House was included in the new building, and at the end of the 20th century the building was changed again during the rebuilding of the Royal Library and the establishment of the Diamond.
Now the museum has become a new phase in the fascinating development of this building.
The room and the change in its functions over almost half a millennium are an expression of unusual continuity. At the same time, the many layers in the building reflect in a striking way that there are also many layers in Danish Jewish history.
Libeskind himself depicts the corridor as a kind of text that runs within a frame of many other surfaces - walls, interior spaces, showcases, virtual perspectives - and draws a parallel to how core Jewish texts such as the Talmud are always presented surrounded by comments and always in relation to these comments. The corridor area is in another sense a text written in the space: the Hebrew letters from the word Mitzvah are used as the basic forms of the corridor area, so that the museum's guests walk in the four letters in enormous format.

A sensory experience

As a visitor, you enter an exhibition which is an unfathomable and expressive landscape.
The light wood paneling on the walls is an allusion to the Nordic surroundings, while the sloping floors offer reminders of seafaring, and ribbons of light cut into the walls as another reference to Mitzvah.
Each individual visitor experiences the space with all the senses and in their own way.
In Libeskind's words: "The Danish Jewish Museum will become a place that, in the unique setting of Mitzvah, uncovers a deep tradition and its future. The linking of the old structure in the Royal Library's vaulted stone room and the surprising connection to the unique exhibition space creates a dynamic dialogue between the architecture of the past and the future - the topicality of the old and the timelessness of the new."
→ Read Daniel Libeskind's own words about the Mitzvah concept and its meaning




The photos were taken by photographer Josefine Amalie
If you wish to use the images for the press or otherwise, this will be done by agreement with the Danish Jewish Museum. write to info@jewmus.dk