The cornerstone for the long-planned Jewish Museum in the Archaeological Quarter of Cologne, Germany has been laid.
Dubbed “MiQua,” the museum, to be built in the city’s town hall square adjacent to an archaeological zone comprising the ruins of the city’s ancient Jewish quarter, is expected to open in 2021, writes the German news agency DPA.
The project is set to cost some 77 million euros (89 million dollars) and is the museum is to be dubbed MiQua, a portmanteau of “Museum im Quartier” (Museum in the Quarter), but also sounds in German like the word for the ritual Jewish bath, the Mikveh.
See a video about the project:
The Jews were expelled from Cologne in 1424 after having been accused of being responsible for the Black Death in 1349; a new community was not formally established until 1801. But Jewish presence in the city dates back much longer, to the 4th century C.E. — the oldest written reference is from 321 C.E. — and is believed to be the oldest Jewish community north of the Alps.
“No other German city has such a longstanding connection with Jewish history as Cologne,” the city’s mayor, Henriette Reker, said at the cornerstone ceremony Thursday, according to DPA.
Excavations began in 2007, and the ruins include that of a 700-year-old synagogue that was destroyed in 1349, and the adjacent ancient mikveh. Archaeological finds include inscriptions, fragments of furniture, books, burnt parchment, toys, medicine bottles, food waste — and even a 13th century toilet.
The Rhineland Regional Association (LVR) Administrative Department team is developing the concept for the museum’s content, and the city of Cologne is building the museum.
The MIQua blog writes that:
A permanent exhibition beneath the town hall square will consist of a 600 m long gallery with a variety of integrated exhibition areas showing some of the most significant archaeological evidence in the history of the city of Cologne and the Rhineland: the Roman Praetorium, the medieval Jewish Quarter and the Goldsmiths‘ Quarter. In the new museum building at the square, an exhibition area dedicated to Jewish history and culture in Cologne, from 1424 to the present day, will be added to the permanent exhibition. Temporary exhibitions will also serve to present further aspects of the 2000-year history of the area.