Friends of the Jewish Museum of Vienna
The Jewish Museum Vienna needs the support of friends
The Jewish Museum of the City of Vienna is a place of encounter, confrontation, and understanding, which seeks to raise awareness of Jewish history, religion, and culture. The first Jewish museum in the world was founded in Vienna in 1895, sponsored by a group of Viennese Jewish citizens. The collection focused on the culture and history of the Jews in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, particularly Vienna and Galicia. In the interwar years Zionist objects were added, reflecting the new political discussion at that time. The museum was closed by the Nazis in 1938 directly after the “Anschluss”. In the last year of its existence the inventory listed 6,474 objects. In 1939 the museum collection was transferred to the Museum of Ethnology and other institutions in Vienna. The Anthropology Department of the Natural History Museum in Vienna used some of the items for its anti-Semitic propaganda exhibition “The physical and psychological appearance of the Jews.” Most of the objects were returned to the Jewish Community Vienna Vienna in the early 1950s, although some were not restituted until the 1990s. Over half of the objects have disappeared; it is practically impossible to discover whether they were stolen or deliberately destroyed. Objects once listed in the Jewish Museum collection turn up occasionally on the art and antiques market. The surviving objects – on permanent loan from the Jewish Community Vienna to the present-day Jewish Museum Vienna – form a unique component of the current collection.