A museum that is more than a museum- Libeskind Museum in Berlin


Museums can influence your life in one way or the other- by showing the lives of people and their achievements. However, some of them can also make you sleepless or stirred. 

The Jewish Museum in Berlin, Germany (also known as the Libeskind Museum) is one of the museums that deeply stirred me. Through his 'Between the Lines' design, the architect of the building, Daniel Libeskind, takes you through a series of halls that portray and make you experience Jewish history. 

The Libeskind Museum

The lower floor of the building is divided into three 'axes'- the Axis of Exile, the Axis of the Holocaust, and the Axis of Continuity. The Axis of Exile exhibits mainly the items and mementos that were lost during Nazi times. At the end of this hall is the Garden of Exile, where I had a walk in between the concrete pillars and felt slightly dizzy. The orientation of the construction is particularly made in such a way that the visitors can feel the unstable lives of the Jews living in Germany at that time. On top of the pillars are olive bushes representing hope, which is hard to reach, and so was for the Jewish people. 

The Garden  of Exile

The Axis of the Holocaust includes the Holocaust Tower, where I experienced the deepest trauma of being confined within closed walls. I saw daylight penetrating through a slit at the top of the large hall and could feel the eerie silence inside. The Holocaust Tower was constructed so ingeniously that each visitor can not only know but also feel, the lives of traumatized Jewish people living during the Holocaust. 

After the Axis of Continuity, I went up a flight of stairs toward the second floor, where the core exhibition is displayed.

The Holocaust Tower

On the way up to the second floor, there was a side entrance where a guard told me that I should not miss this part of the museum. This part of the museum is called the Memory Void, where by the end of the hall is a small corridor that leads you to an art installation named Shalekhet (Fallen Leaves). I saw thousands of iron-made faces with gaping mouths and different facial expressions representing shattered lives.  I had a walk on top of these faces, experienced the clinking metal piercing the silence inside the hall, and felt their agony and pain. 

The art installation 'Shalekhet ' by Menashe Kadishman 

The exhibits on the second floor mainly depict the rich heritage of Jewish culture. There are displays of ancient religious texts and newspaper excerpts during Nazi times. On this floor, it is words that play a major role in portraying the scenes, whereas the exhibits on the ground floor play more with visuals. In between the core exhibition, there is a small section where I could write personal notes (of hope) and hang them on the branches of a man-made tree, which I liked the most. 

A few famous personalities with a Jewish heritage portrayed on the stairway

After the museum visit, I could feel myself disoriented for a long time. But I was happy later because I could visit the perfect version of how a museum should be. It should not only be the details from history that we learn from a museum but also the portrayal of historical lives in its rawest form. The Libeskind Museum clearly does the task. 

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