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Joods historisch museum

I. Current Exhibitions

Superheroes and Schlemiels


Superman, Maus, The Rabbi’s Cat and many other heroes and anti-heroes from the art of comics feature in this exhibition of comics and graphic novels by Jewish artists. Leading comic artists present their vision of a Jewish past in original drawings, printed matter and film material. The artists include Will Eisner, Joe Kubert, Ben Katchor and Rutu Modan. The exhibition, with comics from 1910 to the present day, is a co-production by the JHM and the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme in Paris. Read more ...

For children:

SAVING SUPERMAN with Max The Matzo An adventure in comic-strip form

Imagine, you are cycling through Amsterdam when all of a sudden you see Max the Matzo and Superman walking along. Superman? With our Max? You must be dreaming!
But no… It’s because of the comic-strip exhibition Superheroes and Schlemiels. Not that Max is a schlemiel (klutz). Quite the contrary, he is the Hollander family’s hero in the Children’s Museum. But what a stroke of luck that his own superhero has come to stay with him! Max is so excited he can hardly sleep. And Superman is not his only guest. For the first time the Hollanders have a pet: a cat. And not just any cat, but the Rabbi’s Cat. Is he a Jewish cat? It seems that he wants to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah... Yes really! He loves nothing more than to sit on the bookshelf in the study.

Do you want to know more about Max the Matzo’s guests? Have you ever finished off a comic strip by a real comics artist? Come to the museum. Max will take you on an exciting adventure through an exhibition full of superheroes and schlemiels. But the Hollander household is also swarming with comic-strip figures. Just take a look in the bookshelves in the study and in the studio where you can finish off the comic strip about Max and Superman.

Kurt Lubinski

Kurt Lubinski on the bank of the River Yenisei, Siberia, Soviet Union, 1928 (photo: Margot Lubinski). Coll. Spaarnestad Photo, Haarlem
Kurt Lubinski on the bank of the River Yenisei, Siberia, Soviet Union, 1928 (photo: Margot Lubinski). Coll. Spaarnestad Photo, Haarlem

The Jewish Historical Museum is organising an exhibition of photographs by Kurt Lubinski (1899-1969). Although this German émigré photographer is now relatively unknown, he gained a significant reputation as a successful photojournalist for his travel reportages in the 1920s and 1930s, initially in Germany and later in the Netherlands.
Lubinski began his career at the end of the 1920s as a photographer at the Ullstein Verlag in Berlin. In 1933 he fled Nazi Germany and emigrated to the Netherlands. He received commissions from Dutch illustrated weeklies and was one of the first photojournalists to travel through the remote areas of the Soviet Union (Siberia and Central Asia), Africa and the American Deep South. He also travelled extensively in Europe, from Gibraltar to the Shetland Islands. In the 1930s Lubinski’s photographs were among the first to acquaint the general public with images of strange cultures and exotic peoples.

Kurt Lubinski, Berber, Morroco, North Africa, 1930. Coll. Spaarnestad Photo, Haarlem
Kurt Lubinski, Berber, Morroco, North Africa, 1930. Coll. Spaarnestad Photo, Haarlem

Lubinski’s countless reportages, the texts for which he wrote himself, speak of his great empathy for the underprivileged such as poor Russian peasants, nomads in Kazakhstan, dispossessed Native Americans and black street sweepers in the USA. People are always central to his photography. He observed how, throughout the world, the authenticity of age-old cultures was threatened by modernisation, industrialisation, urbanisation and political developments. His photographs remain, in our age of globalisation, a silent witness to a world that has largely disappeared.
Lubinski escaped to England before the outbreak of the Second World War and in 1943 he emigrated to the United States. There he abandoned photography, his archive was lost and his name fell into obscurity.

The JHM hopes that this exhibition will restore him to his rightful place in the history of Dutch photography. It is the first time that his work will be exhibited. The majority of the photographs in the exhibition are vintage prints from the collection of Spaarnestad Photo. The exhibition coincides with the publication of a book on Lubinski by our guest curator and art and photography historian Louis Zweers.

Art of the State

Yael Bartana, A Declaration, 2006. One channel video and sound installation, 7’30”.
Yael Bartana, A Declaration, 2006. One channel video and sound installation, 7’30”.

November 2008 the Jewish Historical Museum presents the exhibition Art of the State with photographs and video works by sixteen artists from Israel. Through their works they reflect upon their country: the community in which they live, the numerous cultural and religious differences among Israel’s population and the current political situation. Some artists are critical while others give expression to their hopes and dreams. The participating artists exhibit regularly in museums and galleries around the world.

The exhibition coincides with the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of Israel. During its relatively short existence Israel has been at the centre of events that have had a widespread social impact: immigration by Jews from all around the world, wars with its neighbouring countries and the ongoing tension between Israelis and Palestinians. Israelis constantly give voice to their views on the social and political situation in their country. Some of these voices are to be heard in this exhibition, in which artists give their personal visions of life in Israel through photographs and video works. Some are probing and confrontational, others are subtle and poetic.

Lifeguard Towers by Guy Raz (1957), for example, is a series of photographs of the beaches in Tel Aviv and Gaza. In both places the sand, sea, horizon and even the lifeguard towers are the same, as indeed is the need to save lives. The works of Adi Nes (1966) are poetic and occasionally inspired by biblical scenes. His photograph Abraham & Isaac comments on social inequality in Israel. Pavel Wolberg (1966) makes more journalistic photographs such as those about the interaction between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians.

Video art is represented by, among others, Yael Bartana (1970). Her film A Declaration shows a man rowing towards a rock in the sea, where he replaces the Israeli flag with an olive sapling as a symbol of peace. Dana Levy (1973) contributes the beautiful work entitled The Dreamers in which Israelis and Palestinians tell us about their dreams. The participants are children, youths, prisoners and poets – those who have an essential and symbolic need for dreams.

Art of the State includes photographs and videos by Larry Abramson, Boaz Arad, Barry Frydlender, Amit Goren, Nir Hod, Gaston Zvi Ickowicz, Erez Israeli, Miki Kratsman, Sigalit Landau, Michal Rovner and Doron Solomons. Several of the works were previously shown at the Documenta in Kassel and the Venice Biennale.

Hendrik Werkman: The Blue Barge


From 27 June to 30 November 2008 the Jewish Historical Museum presents the exhibition Hendrik Werkman: The Blue Barge. The exhibition contains Werkman’s preparatory studies for the suites of prints he made for The Blue Barge during the Second World War as an act of resistance against the Nazi occupation. The most famous of these is Chassidische Legenden (Hasidic Legends). Many of the handcrafted prints bear annotations by Werkman.

Hendrik Nicolaas Werkman (1882-1945), best known as a member of Groningen’s artists’ association De Ploeg (The Plough), was one of the Netherlands’ most important graphic artists. His unique visual language was expressed in countless experiments with printing techniques. During the war he established The Blue Barge together with three friends. One of these was the clergyman August Henkels, who gave Werkman a copy of Martin Buber’s Legend of Baal-Shem (1932) in 1941. Werkman made a series of twenty beautiful illustrations for these Hasidic stories. The texts and images were an act of resistance against the Nazi occupation and were intended to give courage to the Dutch people during the war years. As a result of his resistance work Werkman was executed by firing squad by the Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service) on 10 April 1945.

In 1976 August Henkels’ widow presented the JHM with Werkman’s letters to Henkels and his wife plus the complete series of proof sheets for The Blue Barge (including the Hasidic Legends). The JHM is exhibiting the prints (more than 60 pieces) and the correspondence between Werkman and Henkels for the first time since 1977.

The exhibition is complemented by the concurrent exhibition Welcoming the Stedelijk Museum: 'Druksel prints' by Werkman organised by the Stedelijk Museum at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam (11 July – 12 October 2008). In May 2008 a complete catalogue of Werkman’s work will also appear (H.N. Werkman, The Complete Works, NAi Publishers, €65.00) followed in June 2008 by a new edition of the letters of Werkman and the members of The Blue Barge (H.N. Werkman. Brieven rond De Blauwe Schuit (1940-1945), Uitgeverij SUN, Amsterdam).

II. Charlotte Salomon Collection

Charlotte Salomon was raised in a cultured German-Jewish environment. In January 1939, following Kristallnacht on 9 November 1938, she fled Berlin. She travelled to her grandparents in the South of France, who had left Nazi Germany back in 1933. Her grandmother committed suicide upon the outbreak of World War II. Only then did Charlotte learn that her mother had also committed suicide in 1926.

Charlotte found a very special way of dealing with the suicides in her family and her experiences growing up Jewish in Berlin. She withdrew and started painting. Outdoors, in sunny southern France, she created Life? or Theatre?.

In her work Charlotte reaches out to her audience by mingling fantasy and reality. Her family and friends are the actors and have appropriate pseudonyms. Her texts are simple, laced with quotations from German literature. Charlotte also indicates music that increases the dramatic effect. She calls Life? or Theatre? a Singespiel or lyrical drama.

In 1943 shortly before Salomon was deported to Auschwitz she gave the gouaches to a friend of the family, saying: 'Take good care of them. They are my whole life.'

Charlotte’s work in the Museum collection


III. Permanent Exhibitions


The JHM Kindermuseum Children's Museum is housed in the Obbene Shul, where the Jewish Hollander family lives in an inviting and playfully decorated house. The father, mother and three children each have different impressions of what it is to be Jewish. Visitors to the Hollander home can experience for themselves what is important in the Jewish tradition.


On the ground floor of the Great Synagogue a new exhibition focuses on Jewish religion and tradition. Visitors are soon aware of the remarkable nature of the place in which they find themselves and experience the synagogue's atmosphere. Superb ceremonial objects are shown in locations where they used to be placed in the synagogue; the furnishings emulate synagogue furniture, like the bimah - the central podium from which the Torah scroll is read in synagogue. Three-dimensional computer reconstructions of the building in different periods, historical film clips and audio recordings bring the synagogue to life. Many new films reflect the enormous diversity of contemporary Jewish life.


The galleries of the Great Synagogue feature a new presentation on the history of the Jews of the Netherlands from 1600 to 1900, shown in a chronological display. The subsequent period, from 1900 to modern times, will eventually appear on the galleries of the New Synagogue.

The central theme is what it has meant to be a Jew in the Netherlands over the centuries. Where did the Jewish newcomers who arrived in the Dutch Republic, and especially in Amsterdam in the seventeenth century, come from? How did these Jewish migrants organize themselves as a community in this dynamic economic city? What kind of opportunities did they find? And how were they restricted?


In the galleries of the New Synagogue, the new permanent exhibition on the history of the Jews in the Netherlands from 1900 to the present day is now open to the public. This exhibition is the sequel to the one in the galleries of the Great Synagogue, which spans the period 1600-1900. This fulfils the Jewish Historical Museum's wish to display the history of the Jews from their arrival in the Netherlands until the present day. The profusion of stories, objects, historical film material and interviews conducted especially for this purpose, together with the design produced by KOSSMANN.DEJONG exhibition architects, provides a sure formula for a spectacular exhibition.

Exhibitions - Archive