Moravian Jews’ “fluidity of identity” in focus at newly opened Brno museum

Photo: Museum Malý Mehrin

This week saw the opening of the temporary Moravian Jewish Museum in Brno which offers an exhibition focused on the stories of local Moravian Jews through a variety of authentic objects. The site will operate until the new museum building, designed by renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, is constructed.

The temporary museum is called Malý Mehrin (Little Mehrin) and is located in the spaces of a house on Brno’s Vídeňská street. The curator of the exhibition, Martin Šmok, explains what’s behind the name.

“The big museum will be the real Mehrin. Mehrin is a Yiddish slang word for Moravia among Moravian Jews and it is very similar to Polin which is the word for Poland.”

He says that the museum’s newly opened exhibition has 13 stops, each of which displays an authentic object connected to the Jewish history of Moravia and a clip of testimony from the archive of the USC Shoah Foundation, the largest digital archive of found testimony of survivors of the Holocaust and of other genocides.

The idea behind this exhibit is based off an interjection of several concepts, Mr Šmok says.

“It is serving as a proof of concept that Jewish museums don’t have to be based around collections of silver ritual objects and a narration about how Jews used to live. That Jewish museums can actually deconstruct the political history into individually lived human lives. That is the first thing.

“The second thing is that you can actually build a Jewish museum as a museum of stories rather than just objects.

“Third, we would like to adhere to the thesis that there are many interpretations as to the meaning of the word ‘Jewish’. Especially in Moravia, the fluidity of identity has much more radical expressions than in Bohemia.”

See the rest here.

Author: Thomas McEnchroe