The conceptual architecture:
I anticipated a trip to the Judisches Museum since before arriving in Berlin. As an architecture student, Daniel Liebeskind’s work is influential. And given the importance of the Museum’s criteria, it’s assumed that a tourist must visit this infamous place of culture.
A part of my anticipation was fear; I’d heard that the museum is almost meant to make the visitor uncomfortable. It weighs heavily on the fact that the Jews were segregated and forgotten about in German communities. I get claustrophobic. However, the most prominent feeling one gets as they circulate the museum is a feeling of being suppressed, almost buried alive as the spaces are narrow in width and tall in height. All that appears from above is a slit of light. This feeling I find very successful in Liebeskind’s design. The spaces he left empty, in representation of the lives that were being confined, were most effective.
The work is described as “Between the Lines,” a concept that perhaps overtakes the building in this instance. It was incredible to see that everything from the slash-like windows to HVAC vents, to lighting channels and doorways were part of this total conceptual design. But the exhibit spaces were crammed, doomed to display the historical pieces on sort of these goofy acrylic surfaces on the structure. For the amount of people who visit the museum, there wasn’t enough space for visitors to both absorb the pieces and circulate to other exhibits. In our two hour tour, we only stopped at four areas.
The building itself stands alone in exhibiting the emotions of the Holocaust victims. I find it more effective as a memorial, like Eisenmann’s, than a museum.