Opened on May 9th, 1999, the Jewish Museum of Bologna (MEB, Museo Ebraico di Bologna) was established in order to preserve, study and promote the rich Jewish cultural heritage that is deeply rooted in Bologna as it is in other areas of Emilia Romagna.
There is a relatively small Jewish population in Bologna and Emilia Romagna (about 500 individuals spread out between Bologna, Ferrara, Modena and Parma), so the museum was created primarily for non-Jewish visitors. Besides chronicling Judaism from its origins to modern times, the main theme of the museum is the long-standing presence of Jews in Bologna and Emilia Romagna.
Different media (video, graphics and CD-ROMs) help both visitors and specialized researchers analyse the four thousand-year history of the Jewish population, also narrated by objects from synagogues, cemeteries, former ghettos (furnishings, religious artefacts, sacred books). The museum also provides suggestions for historic itineraries outside the museum.
The Jewish museum system of Emilia Romagna recognizes the Bologna Jewish Museum as its informative and cultural base, given the Bologna community’s architectural, artistic, educational and documented heritage. The museum covers an area of 800 square metres, divided into three sections: 'permanent exhibit', 'temporary activities' and 'documents and library'.
In the "permanent exhibit" section of the museum, visitors learn about the history of the Jewish identity. This history is illustrated throughout the peoples’ 4000-year history.
The 'temporary activities' section organizes a rich schedule of weekly initiatives: courses and workshops on language, Jewish art and culture, conferences, book presentations, meetings and debates, shows and concerts, guided tours and workshops. Furthermore, the museum organizes trips around Emilia-Romagna, Italy and abroad to learn more about the rich Jewish heritage. The temporary activities section also houses a bookshop specializing in Hebrew texts. With nearly 800 titles, it offers a complete overview of Jewish culture.
The third section is a library of more than 2000 volumes, a document archive and internet access for visitors, for researching the topics the museum contains.
In 2000, the Bologna Jewish Museum won the prestigious Italian Association for Industrial Design award as the best museum communication in Italy for that year.
Bookshop, educational area, temporary exhibition hall, conference hall, access for the disabled. The Jewish Museum of Bologna organizes guided tours on Sundays at the museum to examine highlights of Jewish history and tradition in Bologna.