The Jewish Museum in Rome
Museo Ebraico Di Roma
by David Krusch
Rome, the “Eternal City,” has had an uninterrupted Jewish inhabitance for over twenty centuries. Over two millenia, the Jewish community has left behind some of the most compelling records and artifacts ever found in Europe. Many of these archaeological finds are showcased in Rome's newly renovated Jewish museum, the Museo Ebraico di Roma. Although the museum has been open and functioning since 1959, a new European Union-funded $2 million renovation gave the museum a complete remodeling. Instead of merely exhibiting artifacts, the museum incorporates them with photographs and documents to narrate the history of Rome's Jewish community, the oldest community of its kind in Europe.
The museum is host to several exhibits which highlight the Jewish connection to Rome. The Gallery of Antique Marbles is a collection of precious marbles from the synagogues of the Ghetto of Rome. The Gallery contains over 100 inscriptions and architectural elements that vary in size and content. According to the museum,
“The subjects of the inscriptions vary but together they illustrate the social fabric, daily life and history of the Jewish Community and its presence in Rome. They commemorate donations from wealthy families and the purchase of cemetery plots. They forbid bringing leavened bread into areas where unleavened bread is baked and record the activities of the confraternities of charitable works. There are also family coats of arms decorating objects that the families donated to the community.”
Another permanent exhibit is the textile collection, which contains around 800 quality textiles from the 15th to the 19th centuries. The museum has planned to build a Textile Preservation Center, which will house some of the museum's most important finds. The fabrics will be placed in air-tight storage containers to prevent dust and sunlight that could be harmful to the antiques.
Lungotevere Cenci (Sinagoga) - 00186 Roma
Sources: Museo Ebraico di Roma; Ruth Ellen Gruber, “What’s old is new again: Rome’s Jewish museum gets facelift,” JTA, (December 14, 2005).