With six hundred artworks and objects, the permanent collection proposes a history of the Jewish communities of Europe and the Mediterranean from the Middle Ages to today.
The permanent collection features masterpieces bearing testimony to the rituals and history of many communities, highlighting the Jewish presence in France from late Antiquity to the Holocaust and focussing on key periods and events such as the Emancipation and the Dreyfus Affair. Several rooms show the wealth of Jewish culture in Italy and Amsterdam and the Jewish world in Central and Eastern Europe, the Levant and the Maghreb. The collection culminates with works by Jewish avant-garde artists in the early 20th-century and the School of Paris.
From archaeology to contemporary art
As well as exceptional archaeological remains and a major collection of religious objects, the mahJ also has a rich historical and ethnographic collection. Chagall, El Lissitzky, Kikoïne, Modigliani and Soutine and other creators illustrate the Jewish presence in 20th-century art. Works by contemporary artists, including Kader Attia, Carole Benzaken, Jean-Pierre Bertrand, Sophie Calle, Gérard Garouste, Moshé Gershuni, Georges Jeanclos, Moshé Kupferman, Mikael Levin, Michel Nedjar, Moshe Ninio, Nira Pereg, Cécile Reims, Micha Ullman and Max Wechsler continue to enrich the collection. In a small courtyard, an installation by Christian Boltanski, The Inhabitants of the Hôtel de Saint-Aignan in 1939, recalls the mansion’s former occupants, many of whom were deported and never returned.
The visit is structured around the following sequences:
- 1. Introduction: keys to understanding Judaism and the history of the Jews
- 2. From Antiquity to the Middle Ages
- 3. The Jews in Italy from the Renaissance to the 18th century
- 4. Hanukkah: the Festival of Lights
- 5. Amsterdam: the meeting of two diasporas
- 6. Next year in Jerusalem
- 7. The Jews in Eastern Europe