W. Michael Blumenthal Academy
of the Jewish Museum Berlin
Daniel Libeskind’s Design "Zwischenräume"
The W. Michael Blumenthal Academy is based on Daniel Libeskind’s design "Zwischenräume." Located on the opposite side of the road, the new building complex comprises three inclined cubes. The cube form is a variation on a theme found in the Garden of Exile and the Glass Courtyard. Daniel Libeskind thus links the Academy to the existing museum architecture both in context and in expression of form.
The first cube, which forms the entrance to the W. Michael Blumenthal Academy, penetrates the façade of the building and creates a counterpart to the Jewish Museum’s main entrance in the "Kollegienhaus" and to the head of the Libeskind Building on the opposite side of the Lindenstraße. It is illuminated by skylights in the form of the Hebrew letters Alef and Bet, relating to the education and research work at this site. In the hall’s interior, two further cubes tilted towards one another house the auditorium and the library. These wood-paneled cubes are evocative of transport crates on the one hand and Noah’s Ark on the other. The cubes symbolize the transmission of legacies from around the world to the Jewish Museum Berlin – the Academy houses these legacies and makes them accessible to a wider public. Between the three tilted cubes, an inspirational space emerges that allows diverse views both into the hall’s interior and onto the future town square outside. These "Zwischenräume" visually link the Academy and the former flower market to the "Kollegienhaus" with its Glass Courtyard and the Libeskind Building.
Entrance of the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin (July 2013)
© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe
Besides the auditorium and open-access library with adjoining reading room, the W. Michael Blumenthal Academy houses rooms for education work – work space for guest students, offices, seminar and meeting rooms. Through the library cube, a bypass separated from the open-access library by a glass wall leads into the archive area with archive depots, work spaces for visiting scientists, offices, and seminar rooms. The "Diaspora Garden" can be found in the courtyard between the building elements.
The Diaspora Garden
A New Site for Educational Programs
The Diaspora Garden in the W. Michael Blumenthal Academy’s inner courtyard serves as a space for exchange and reflection, as well as for learning and creating as part of educational programs at the Jewish Museum Berlin. Designed by artists from "atelier le balto" landscape architects, the Diaspora Garden reflects aspects of life in the Diaspora.
In the middle of the garden area are four seemingly floating steel plateaus, each with an area of around 4 x 14 meters surrounded by a wooden platform. The plateaus can be used in a variety of ways and each one is planted according to a different theme: landscape, culture and soil, nature and the human race are three themes. The fourth plateau, "Academy," serves as a testing ground for the participants of educational programs and features not only maps, drawings, and photos, but also soil, seeds and pots for planting. The plateaus demonstrate different degrees of variability and thus present ever new aspects and emphases in the garden.
A wide variety of plants can be found on the four plateaus - those that have a special connection to Jewish life or Jewish personalities; plants in various stages of development that show such processes as seeding, rooting, growing, and wilting; plants that themselves are in the throes of or have completed a "diaspora" process in the sense of dispersion, and lastly those that are chosen by participants of our educational programs.