200 and 20 – the Jewish Museum library
November 26, 2014, to April 7, 2015, in the Annex in Dorotheergasse (Dorotheergasse 11, 1010 Wien)
To mark the twentieth anniversary of the Jewish Museum library, the Museum is showing
exceptional rare items that are otherwise too fragile to put on display. The library was
officially opened at Seitenstettengasse 4 on November 24, 1994. Its inventory consists of the
remnants of the Jewish Community (IKG) library and the Museum’s collections (Schlaff,
Stern, Burg, donations, new acquisitions, and the Berger legacy). Many works were lost
during the Nazi era. The IKG began to reconstitute the community library in 1947 but was
unable to recreate the institution that existed before the Nazis. In 1992 its contents including
new acquisitions in the 1960s and 1970s were given on permanent loan to the Museum.
Work started in January 1994 on examining, sorting, and cataloguing the inventory. The
Jewish Museum library was a pioneer in electronic cataloguing. From 2003 the contents
were re-examined for works of suspicious provenance and a special database created.
Today the library has over 45,000 books and magazines and is thus the largest specialist
Jewish library in Austria.
Outstanding rare books
The exhibition in the Annex of the Museum in Dorotheergasse gives an insight into the
contents of the library of the Jewish Museum Vienna, which includes a collection of over 200
rare books. Apart from a number of valuable first editions, such as the Kabbalist Sefer
yetsirah (Mantua 1562), magnificently illustrated editions from the collection will also be on
show. One outstanding item from the collection of rare books is the first Rabbinic Bible
printed by Daniel Bomberg in Venice (died in 1549 or 1553).
Origins of the library
Hebrew letterpress printing was allowed in Vienna relatively late, on the basis of a court
decree of 1789 issued by Joseph II, which restricted publication to Christian printers. Thus,
in spite of the 1782 Edict of Tolerance, Jewish printers were still forbidden from doing so.
The printing of Hebrew books in Vienna was dominated by two printers, Josef Lorenz Edler
von Kurzböck and Joseph Hraschanzky. After Kurzböck’s death in 1792, Anton Edler von
Schmid (1765–1855) took over the work. He had learned his trade with Kurzböck and also
purchased the elegant Hebrew type from Kurzböck’s widow. Within a few years Schmid had
made a name for himself throughout central Europe and also printed books in other
languages, especially Arabic, Persian, and Syrian works. Two hundred years ago he
presented the Jewish community with 133 Hebrew books printed by him as a sign of his
“sincere gratitude and great respect for the entire Israelite nation.” This gift in 1814 marked
the start of the oldest Jewish community library.
The magnificent leather-bound and gilded books later formed the basis for the library of the
Jewish religious school, set up in the early nineteenth century for the education of young
Jews in compliance with one of the central demands of the Edict of Tolerance. The school
library was systematically enlarged over the years and was ultimately transformed into a
community library independent of the school. It was for a long time the center of Jewish
scholarship until it was closed in 1938 by the Nazis and dispersed.
Curator: Domagoj Akrap
Opening hours and tickets
The Jewish Museum is open Sunday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Judenplatz Sunday to
Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A joint admission ticket
for both museums (valid for four days from the date of issue) costs €10.00, reduced price
€8.00, groups €7.00, children and juveniles up to 18 years free of charge, trainees,
schoolchildren (from 15 years), apprentices, students (up to 27 years), persons performing
military or community service €5.00. Free admission for school classes with €20.00
contribution for the guided tour. Audio guide Museum Judenplatz €2.00, Multimedia Guide
Further information and reductions at www.jmw.at or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media Office of the Jewish Museum Vienna
Alfred Stalzer, media spokesman
Astrid Meixner, media assistant (Büro Stalzer)
Tel.: +43-1-505 31 00
Cell: +43-664-506 49 00
For more information, please visit: http://www.jmw.at/en/exhibitions/200-and-20-library-jewish-museum