This museum offers a glimpse into the world of Italian Jewry, and particularly their art, customs, and traditions. The museum is located in Jerusalem and housed in the former Schmidt Compound built in 1887. The building itself is worth seeing. It has incredible frescoes, painted ceilings, and examples of late 19th-century Orientalism. The collection includes authentic artistic artifacts depicting Jewish life in Italy from the Renaissance to the present.
Highlights of the Museum of Italian Jewish Art
The permanent exhibition is titled “Made in Italy: The Material Side of Spiritual Objects” and includes ornate metalwork objects, textiles, carved wooden furniture, rare books, and hand-decorated parchments. Through the exhibits, you can learn about the Jewish lifestyle in Italy, over hundreds of years, and to the present day. Many of the objects were rescued after World War II and the downfall of Mussolini. One of the highlights is the second oldest Torah Ark in the world.
At the museum, you can see a 1701 synagogue from the Italian village of Conegliano Veneto featuring a Torah Ark with golden carved wooden decoration and walnut seats. The 300-year-old synagogue was dismantled and brought to Israel in the 1950s, then reconstructed with attention to every detail to preserve the original structure.
The synagogue is still used for worship. Services are held according to the Bnei Roma tradition (Children of Rome Tradition). This is one of the oldest traditions of Judaism. The building’s painted entrance hall features frescoes painted by pilgrims visiting Jerusalem as a way of expressing their gratitude.
The museum remains the heart of Israel’s Italian Jewish community and is used to host special events, concerts, conferences, and temporary exhibits. The building houses a workshop used for the conservation and restoration of textiles and wooden artifacts. There is also a research institute with a library and photograph collection.
To visit the Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art, feel free to book one of our private tours.