Visit to the Jewish Historical Museum... fine example of a modern museum

Yesterday I had the pleasure to visit the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam. And I very much enjoyed seeing both the regular expositions and the temporary ones on Dada, Triumph of Identity. It had been quite a while since my previous visit and I was pleasantly surprised. The museum has chosen to focus on the Jewish identity and history in a way that is really inviting and allows for both a more quick overview or a more in depth listen/view to video's and audiotapes. And in doing so they also managed to avoid the risk of becoming a war-museum.

To me it became more clear that since the 16th century the Dutch were a bit more open towards the Jewish people than other countries in Europe, making Amsterdam a better place to stay than other cities in Europe. Still, jewish people weren't allowed into the guilds and sought out jobs as diamond cutters and were active in (street) trade and finance. And I came to understand that Hugo de Groot helped out in outlining which legal rules to apply to jewish immigrants, using the point of view that we should welcome the jewish people to the Netherlands, not so much for the experience in trade or their economic benefit, but for the mere fact that they are human. Imagine that later on, de Groot got in trouble for his liberal point of view (that didn't suit the Calvinist yoke).

I didn't know that it took until after the French revolution that the jewish people officially obtained equal rights. And with that came an obligation to also use the Dutch language. Which was supported by some in the jewish community, but strongly resisted by others. It allowed me to further understand and reflect on being away from home and having to find a place of your own. The way in which the museum helped me look at this history and development of identity was very inspiring.

As the last bit of my tour around the museum I came to visit the Kids Museum. And it would of course be easy to leave it aside and visit only the grown-up stuff. But I didn't and thus entered the home of a family. The visit takes you through the different rooms of the house, allowing for different aspect of tradition to be highlighted. Which is all down in very bright and open manner. With a sort of Harry-Potter like speaking wall, which tells the kids the history of the building. And a music room upstairs, which helped out understanding the different jewish celebrations.

All in all, I found the museum is a real treasure that we may be really be proud of.