Spanish Synagogue to close for renovation

The building will reopen at the end of 2020 with modern interactive exhibits

The Spanish Synagogue in Prague’s Jewish Quarter will be closed starting June 1 for renovations, expected to last until the last quarter of 2020.

People have until the end of May to see the current exhibition, the History of the Jews in Bohemia and Moravia in the 19th–20th Centuries. When it reopens it will have a new permanent exhibition with interactive elements and modern visitor facilities.

The current exhibition was installed during the synagogue’s first major renovation in 1994–98. It deals with the history of the Jews in Bohemia from the religious reforms of Emperor Joseph II at the end of the 18th century to the post–World War II era. There is a special focus on the fate of Bohemian and Moravian Jews during the war and on the Terezín ghetto.

The new exhibition that will open in late 2020 has the working title Jewish Emancipation, Shoah and Postwar Czechoslovakia from 1780 to the Present. It will change the technical aspects of the presentation to include multimedia and interactive elements. In addition to rare items from the Jewish Museum’s collections, there will be touch screens to access historical documents, photographs, artworks, and a database of prominent Jewish figures.

The new exhibition will require building alterations, including the construction of new technological and visitor facilities and barrier-free access. The concept for the new permanent exhibition was devised by Arno Pařík, and the individual topics have been further elaborated by the Jewish Museum’s research staff with the help of external experts.

The architectural design for the project has been prepared by the firm Petr Franta architekti. The main contractor will be Konsot, a firm with experience handling historical sites. Work will begin in July 2019.

The Spanish Synagogue is the most recent synagogue in Prague’s Jewish Quarter. It was built in 1868 for the local Reform congregation on the site of the 12th-century Altschul, which was the area’s oldest synagogue.

The name “Spanish” is due to its Moorish-influenced interior design. The building was designed by Josef Niklas and Jan Bělský, and the interior by Antonín Baum and Bedřich Münzberger.

After the renovation of the Pinkas Synagogue in 2018 and Maisel Synagogue in 2015 and the opening of the Information and Reservation Center in 2014, this is the fourth of the Jewish Museum’s revitalization projects.

The Jewish Museum’s other exhibitions will remain on display. The temporary closure only affects the Spanish Synagogue.

For more information, see www.jewishmuseum.cz

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