This extraordinary building is an experience that leaves a visceral impression with you long after you have departed. As you enter the main entrance you are stepping in to the old building. By its facade you can be lulled into thinking that this is conservative history at its most regal.
The old building consists of the main level including the entrance, cloak room, glass courtyard, cafe and museum shop. Traditionally quiet and reflective with muted colours, the staff respectful and informative.
I stowed my bag at the cloak room but inquired about photographing in the exhibition areas, which is allowed, but with no flash, so I took along my Fuji X100.
Downstairs the interior lighting is quite dark so only take a camera if it allows for fully manual operation. Otherwise enjoy the experience for what it is.
Include the audio tour on entry as it is has surprising detail about the building and internal space as well as the exhibitions.
The new building is quite extensive and consists of the three lower floors. Linking the 2 buildings together are the 3 axes; the axis of the Holocaust, the axis of Continuity and the axis of Exile.
The first thing you will notice as you descend the stairs to the lower floors is that nothing feels just quite right.
The floor and walls are mal-aligned in such fashion as to make you feel as if you’re rocking on a boat. Feeling disoriented and disconnected as if you’re lurching into the walls or swaying back and forth is a figment of your imagination but a very real phenomena.
The audio transcript begins as you descend the stairs so be aware to listen intently about Daniel Libeskind and the deliberate construction of the exhibition space andbuilding.
The walls are slightly askew from the angle of the floor. The concept is that the building should be a space of converging and diverging lines with exhibits filling some, but not all, of the rooms.
Here again the concept of rooms is loosely resembled, more like corridors with intersecting open spaces.
The architect has been supremely successful in his command of space and place. Other examples of his work can be seen here.
Along the axis of continuum in the Eric F. Ross Gallery was a special exhibition of photographs by Fred Stein. These beautiful works display and excelling craftsmanship and an empathetic vision. The exhibition consists of 130 photos. Fred Stein took over 1200 portraits, working in monochrome. His vision we now call street photography/ environmental portraits and his work conic with many of his images on permanent display in museums and galleries around the world.
This exhibition is on until March 23 2014. For more on the work of Fred Stein go here .
On the same level but in opposing directions are the axes of Exile and the Holocaust.
The axis of Exile leads to the Garden of Exile a garden of concrete pillars supporting willow trees above.
The 12‰ gradient upon which the blocks are designed replicate the disorienting feelings inspired within the lower floors. Be careful on entering the garden as the overwhelming urge to look up at the olive garden perched on top of the pillars, and not to look down at the ground where you are walking. This space, like many within the building provides time for quiet reflection and introspection.
The permanent exhibition is housed on levels one and two. This insightful view into German Jewish history through personal and informative accounts is extensive. The audio that accompanies these sections was particularly helpful here for me having no personal reference to work by. I spent two hours here alone and I could have spent a day absorbing this material.
In all, the building and the exhibition space is a stunning example of thoughtful, creative vision and has been hugely successful.
An opportunity to visit this museum on my next visit to Berlin will be high on my list of places that need further exploration.