The Jewish Museum – Berlin

I couldn’t go on a trip to Berlin without visiting the Jewish Museum designed by architect Daniel Libeskind. 

Libeskind is one of my favourite architectural designers. His angular, deconstructive style is something which I have always found appealing and this is a prime example of how he uses this design approach.

Completed in 1999 the structure which is a large “zig-zag” shaped extension to the Colligienhaus (which housed the entire museum previously) has become one of Berlins most recognisable landmarks.

“The official name of the project is the “Jewish Museum,” but I have called it ‘Between the Lines.’ It is a project about two lines of thinking, organization and relationship. One is a straight line, but broken into many fragments; the other is a tortuous line, but continuing indefinitely.” Daniel Libeskind

The lines described by Liebskind intersect to make voids that cut through the entire museum and become a massive feature when considering the way the building makes the viewer feel. I found these void spaces really impressive, at 66 feet tall and incredibly cold places because of the concrete structure, they were really awe inspiring and thought provoking.  The ground in one of the spaces was covered in rusted iron faces, there to symbolize Jews who lost their lives in Germany during the war.  I didn’t go in to that space, but the idea is that the visitor is to hear the squeals and clanging of the metal faces as they walk on top of them. 


There were good and bad points about this Museum.  The building itself was fantastic, and what I found most impressive was the way the structure made you feel the way it wanted you to feel within the space.  I also love the way Libeskind has used lighting to create really dramatic features to the architecture, which I feel add a depth and symbolism to the design.  The main flaw with Libeskind’s design, in my opinion, was that the architecture of the building appears to have become a more important part of the museum than the history and past Jewish “voice” being expressed within the exhibition.

Nevertheless I still recommend a visit here if you ever find yourself in Berlin!

Find out more @ Daniel Libeskind


2 thoughts on “The Jewish Museum – Berlin

  1. You are right, the architecture overwhelms the exhibits. And worse, Daniel Libeskind’s ego then overwhelms the architecture. Unfortunately it is the latter ego that has become Libeskind’s most characteristic trait. Since the Jewish Museum he’s repackaged all the angularity and formal tension and shoved it onto any project he gets. So his office doesn’t really design anything any more. They just sell the deconstructive gimmick that’s become the office “brand”. If you asked Libeskind to design a mattress, he’d design some pointy, shardy thing that looked ugly and was useless, but as long as it is another monument to his ego, he doesn’t seem to care.

    • I have to admit that I completely agree with what you are saying about Libeskinds over use of the Deconstructive style, however I do consider it to be his design philosophy. Would you really ask someone who designs this way to design you a mattress? Knowing that his style means the outcome would not be appropriate? I do think that as he has completely adopted this as his style that his buildings sometimes have a lack of connection to their use.

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