Moving Things: Objects and Their Jewish Stories

Temporary exhibition 2024

    17 May – 10 November 2024

    People move, whether by choice or by force. They take things with them or leave them behind, literally transporting them from one place to another. But these objects also move on an emotional level – especially things a person has had to leave behind or has lost along the way. Refugees and people driven from their homes associate these objects with their family, home and culture. As a result, everyday objects become symbols of loss; things of no material value become precious mementos.

    This exhibition offers a look at the external and internal movement of and by objects; on view are several objects that belonged to Jewish people who were persecuted and expelled by the Nazis. They bear witness to a history of violence. In cases where the objects themselves were subjected to violent acts, we see another form of movement in the sense of transformation: their material composition and appearance have been changed by the damage. That shift also affected their use: they were discarded, repurposed or – as many ritual objects – became museum exhibits.

    Finally, there is an emphasis on upcycling, a practice deeply rooted in Jewish tradition since ancient times. In fact, an object can only be recycled “up”, so to speak: while secular or mundane items can be transformed for sacred use – as in the case of a wedding dress turned into a Torah curtain, for example – the opposite is forbidden. These days, upcycling has taken on global significance: a Hanukkah menorah made from a bicycle chain symbolises sustainability and responsibility.

    Curator: Martha Keil
    Design: Renate Stockreiter
    Coordination: Heidrun Wenzel
    Project management: Ariadni Yfanti

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