Jewish Museum Vienna, June 9 to November 9, 1994
"Gewidmet dem Andenken"
Treasures of Vienna"s synagogues and prayer houses
This invaluable treasure, which was donated to the Museum by the Viennese Kultusgemeinde, is not a "collection" in the usual sense of the word; rather, these items are what remained of the ritual objects of the formerly flourishing Jewish community of Vienna and were brought together after 1945. These objects had been donated to the former Viennese synagogues and prayer houses "in honour of the torah", sometimes anonymously, sometimes by named sponsors; occasionally, they were given "in commemoration" of deceased relatives of the sponsor, in other cases, for the consecration of a new synagogue. In taking over this stock of objects, the Jewish Museum has accepted a historically very valuable but also extremely difficult legacy. For these items must not be treated simply as works of art - after all, they were ritual objects embedded in a concrete style of life, from which they were literally torn in 1938. For this reason, they are not only mute witnesses to the glorious history of the Jewish community of Vienna - they are also witnesses to destruction. By directly juxtaposing splendidly preserved objects with broken and destroyed items, this exhibition attempts to convey the double meaning inherent in these exhibits. In looking at them, we are exhorted to commemorate and to contemplate.
Curator: Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek
Exhibition architect: Martin Kohlbauer
Graphic design: Krieger/Sztatecsny