The itinerary is the result of a well-balanced dialogue between two temporary exhibits, “Jews, an Italian story. The first thousand years”, edited by Anna Foa, Giancarlo Lacerenza and Daniele Jalla, and “The Renaissance speaks Hebrew”, edited by Giulio Busi and Silvana Greco. The ever-evolving exhibition is enhanced with new objects and stories and, in the coming years, will come to tell the story of Italian Jews through to current times.
Jews, an Italian story
With “Ebrei, una storia italiana” (Jews, an Italian story), the MEIS recounts the experience of Italian Judaism, describing how it formed and developed along the Peninsula — from ancient Roman times to the Renaissance — and how it engineered its own identity, unique even when compared to other places in the Diaspora.
It has been constantly repeated that Jews have been present in Italy for more than two thousand years and that, over this long period of time, this presence has been essentially uninterrupted. In fact, no other place in the Western Diaspora can boast such an ancient, widespread and steadfast Jewish presence.Anna Foa, Giancarlo Lacerenza from the catalog “Jews, an Italian story. The First Thousand Years” (ed. Electa)
Down a road of ongoing evolution
An Italian story that begins in Ancient Rome
Through video contributions of experts, artifacts, immersive breaks, multimedia videos, reconstructions (the Temple of Jerusalem, the Arch of Titus, the Jewish catacombs, the synagogues of Ostia and Bova Marina), this itinerary reveals the areas of origin of the Jewish people and traces the routes of their exile to the western Mediterranean. It documents their time in Rome and southern Italy, speaking of migration, slavery, integration and religious intolerance — both in relation to the pagan and Christian worlds.
The Renaissance speaks Hebrew
The MEIS’ journey continues as we see how the Jewish presence in Italy in the Middle Ages transforms and witness the arrival of new migrations from northern Europe and Spain. The exhibition ends with the rooms dedicated to the cultural blossoming seen during the Renaissance, a period in which humanist intellectuals saw Judaism as a source of invaluable knowledge; a centuries-long journey to discover the history of the country.