Like any other cultural institution, Covid-19 hit us hard. During the “lockdowns,” both museum locations were closed, events and collaborations had to be canceled, postponed or turned into an online format, the team was sent to the home office. And even when we are allowed to open under strict sanitary measures: Guided tours can only be offered for 5 people and especially the loss of school classes (more than 50% of all visitors per year) and adult tours makes it hard for us economically.
We have used the time intensively to continue the renewal process initiated in 2019. We see ourselves as a place where aspects of migration, homeland and culture are discussed from a Jewish perspective and where it is shown that diversity is neither a threat nor an enrichment, but normality. Our task is not to depict the diversity of Jewish approaches in the past and present, but to convey it in a lively way. This also includes that “museum” is not just a house, but any place where museum takes place – such as public or virtual space.
In May 2020, we participated online in the days of action for the 75th anniversary of the liberation from National Socialism. The reading of memories of Jews who grew up in Augsburg and returned to their former “home” city as U.S. soldiers was recorded in the Former Kriegshaber Synagogue. The views reveal a special feature of our museum: almost 40% of the viewers watched the video with English subtitles. This is thanks to the descendants of the members of Augsburg’s second Jewish community living all over the world, with whom we have always maintained close relations and who are now more closely connected through social media than ever before.
We remain optimistic and continue to work on formats that are also possible in the pandemic, online and offline. Last but not least, we want to showcase this in our new major exhibition, “Shalom Sisters!”.