THE SLOVAK NATIONAL MUSEUM'S REGULAR SPECTATOR COLUMN

Slovakia's rich Jewish heritage

THE MUSEUM of Jewish Culture is a branch of the Slovak National Museum and is a prominent state-sponsored institution dedicated to preserving and promoting Jewish culture and art in Slovakia.
The museum was established at the birth of the Slovak Republic in 1993 together with several other specialized museums of national minorities living in this country.


18TH century jug from Senica.
photo: Viera Kamenická

THE MUSEUM of Jewish Culture is a branch of the Slovak National Museum and is a prominent state-sponsored institution dedicated to preserving and promoting Jewish culture and art in Slovakia.

The museum was established at the birth of the Slovak Republic in 1993 together with several other specialized museums of national minorities living in this country. It was founded as part of a new state policy redefining Slovakia's cultural identity as a part of European multicultural heritage.

One of its main goals is to raise awareness about the rich Slovak Jewish legacy. Though often overlooked, the Slovak Jews played an important role in the political, economic and cultural life of society. Therefore, Jewish history has to be reintroduced into the general cultural context.

The museum maintains its permanent exhibitions in four Slovak towns - Bratislava, Prešov, Trnava and Žilina. In the future, it anticipates establishing other exhibitions in newly restored synagogue buildings across Slovakia.

The Bratislava exhibition is housed at the Zsigray mansion. This building is the sole surviving house of the former Jewish neighbourhood destroyed in the 1960s when the Nový Most (New Bridge) was constructed.

An official of Count Pálffy, Zsigray of Stupava, had it built in the mid 17th century. The house was rebuilt in the 19th century.

In 1993, after being completely reconstructed, the mansion became an exhibition venue for the Museum of Jewish Culture. A replica of a synagogue interior and a Holocaust remembrance hall are noteworthy parts of the exhibition.

The exhibition serves various audiences, from Slovak school groups coming to learn more about Judaism and Jewish people, to visitors from all around the world eager to find out about the rich legacy of the Slovak Jews.

Apart from permanent exhibitions, the Museum of Jewish Culture has been organizing special exhibitions in partnership with Slovak regional museums to promote Jewish culture in places that were once centres of rich Jewish communal life.

The museum has also successfully organized exhibitions abroad, which promote the rich Slovak Jewish heritage. Presentations in various European countries, the United States and Israel actively contribute to spreading awareness about Slovakia and the European context of its culture.

The Bratislava exhibition is located at Židovská 17. It is open Sunday through Friday, from 11:00 to 17:00. For more information on Slovak Jewish heritage visit www.slovak-jewish-heritage.org.

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