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The Art Collection

Poster for the III "Berliner Secession" art exhibition

Thomas Theodor Heine, poster for the III "Berliner Secession" art exhibition, May-October 1901
© Jewish Museum Berlin, donated by Hendrik A. Berinson in memory of Ephraim Berinson

The art collection at the Jewish Museum Berlin shows German-Jewish history from the perspective of the fine arts and visual culture. The works of Jewish artists and the preferences of those commissioning them combined with the imagery prevalent in their environments create an image culture which this part of the collection aims to document and research.

Works by Jewish artists show Jews as part of the cultural life of their time, as interpreters of their environment and their position in German society. Jews also commissioned works of art, such as portraits, thereby participating in the development of art itself. Their aesthetic preferences are important indicators of their cultural identity.

Double portrait of two children

Leopold Bendix, double portrait of Albert and Julie Rathenau, 1845, oil on canvas
© Jewish Museum Berlin, donation by Charlotte Herzfeld, photo: Jens Ziehe

As in every cultural-historical collection, portraits play a major role. Most notable are the group portraits of Jewish families and self-portraits of Jewish artists, as well as portraits of Jewish philosophers of the Enlightenment. Originally from the holdings of the first Jewish Museum on Oranienburger Straße, these last paintings the museum has on a long-term loan from the Israel Museum.

The works of German-Jewish artists constitue another focus of the collection. Biblical and Jewish themes are well represented, though the museum's broad interest also embraces documentary biographical material on the artists such as photographs, correspondence, and printed materials. For more information:

An extensive and significant part of the art collection is prints – ranging from posters to commercial art – which are closely linked to the collected works of book art in the library.


Inka Bertz
Head of collections/Curator of art
Tel: +49 (0)30 259 93 414
Fax: +49 (0)30 259 93 409

The collection of contemporary art is still growing. The installations by Menashe Kadishman and Via Lewandowski in the permanent exhibtion are part of this collection. The holdings currently comprise around 330 paintings, 4,500 prints, 1,100 sketches, and around 100 sculptures and architectural models. Chronologically the collection ranges from the 18th century to the present, with an emphasis on the 19th and early 20th centuries.

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