Jews, an Italian story

Permanent Exibition

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

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.

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.

Other exhibitions

Under the same Sky

Under the same Sky

Exhibitions Temporary14.10.2022—05.02.2023
Beyond the ghetto. Inside&Out

Beyond the ghetto. Inside&Out

Exhibitions Temporary29.10.2021—03.07.2022


Two thousand and two hundred years of Jewish history and culture in twenty-four minutes.  This is the multimedia show Through the Eyes of the Italian Jews, realized by Giovanni Carrada (author and curator) and Manuela Fugenzi (iconographic research).  A complex, rigorous project, the result of months of research and fine-tuning, this show provides a popular investigation […]
1938. Humanity denied

1938. Humanity denied

Permanent Exhibition
On January 17 2020, the National Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah-MEIS opened a permanent multimedia path entitled “1938: humanity denied”, curated by Paco Lanciano and Giovanni Grasso. This initiative was promoted by the Presidency of the Italian Republic with the contribution of the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research-Miur and the support of Intesa Sanpaolo. Strongly supported by the President of Italy Sergio Mattarella, the exhibition was unveiled in 2018 at the Quirinale — on the occasion of the eightieth anniversary of the promulgation of the racial laws — and is the first part of the MEIS exhibition dedicated to the Shoah. Through the use of multimedia installations that gathers vintage images, films and documents, “1938: humanity denied” creates an immersive experience that brings the visitor into contact with the drama of the racial laws, social ostracisim, Nazi-Fascist persecution and extermination. At MEIS, the path conceived of by the two curators is expanded with a site-specific installation by the internationally renowned Israeli artist Dani Karavan, created to remember the Italian experience of the Shoah. Already the author of several international works — Sinti and Roma memorial in Berlin, Way of Human Rights in Nuremberg, Homage to Walter Benjamin in Portbou and Way of Peace in the Negev —Karavan was the protagonist of the MEIS exhibition entitled “The Garden that doesn’t exist”.