Daniel Libeskind’s second contribution to the Jewish Museum Berlin since 2001, the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin, will open this Saturday, November 17. The 25,000 square foot Academy is located just across from the original museum and now houses the museum library, a growing archive, and will also house lectures, workshops, and seminars. The design is named “In-Between Spaces,” alluding to the voids between three cubes that make up the Academy. The cubes mirror Libeskind’s original museum design with sharp angular forms combined with dramatic intersections. Entry into the Academy is gained through a large slash in the first cube, which leads to a middle space between the other two cubes. With large skylights and front and rear access the Academy is connected with its outside spaces. Libeskind is proud to celebrate Jewish history in his design with windows shaped like the Hebrew letters Alef and Bet, and with a quotation from the famous Jewish scholar Moses Maimonides printed across the façade: “Hear the truth, whoever speaks it,” written in English, German, Hebrew, Arabic, and the Judeo-Arabic of medieval Spain.
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Starchitect Richard Meier is now in the Judaica business, sort of. He recently designed a limited edition menorah and series of mezuzahs for The Jewish Museum in New York. The menorah is based on the Meier Lamp, a piece that was originally commissioned by the Israel Museum in 1985. And just in time for Hanukkah (which begins December 1st), this limited edition menorah can be purchased through The Jewish Museum Shop. Meier's menorah is part of Design Edition JM, the first curated collection of modern Judaica by contemporary artists and designers. And he isn't alone wading into the (holy) waters of the Judaica market - Daniel Libeskind, Karim Rashid, and Jonathan Adler have also designed menorahs for that were available at Jewish museum shops. What inspired Meier (who himself is a member of the tribe) in his design? A collective memory of suffering and anti-Semitism. "In the design of the Hanukkah Menorah I was trying to express the collective memory of the Jewish people," explains Meier. "Each candleholder is an abstracted representation of an architectural style from significant moments of persecution in the history of Jews." Together they serve as "reminders of the common past and struggles that Jewish people have suffered and their resilience and strength that is so wonderfully captured by the Hanukkah story." But wait, there's more... If your still want to own a little Meier and the $1,000 menorah is out of your price range, think smaller and think lintels - the architect also designed three pewter mezuzahs based on the English, Spanish, and Vienna towers found on the menorah. Retailing for around $125, they will be available for purchase exclusively through all three brick-and-mortar Jewish Museum Shops in New York City as well as online.