The MEIS project
To welcome everyone’s identity

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1. Relief from the Arch of Titus with the remains of the Temple. Rome 1st century e.v./ 1930 c.
1. Relief from the Arch of Titus with the remains of the Temple. Rome 1st century e.v./ 1930 c.

Reproduction in plaster Rome, Museum of Roman Civilization (currently exhibited at MEIS)

The Museo Nazionale dell’Ebraismo Italiano e della Shoah – MEIS (National Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah) was founded with the mission to recount over two thousand years of Jewish history in Italy.

From South to North, for centuries Italian Jews have contributed to and participated in the country’s evolution, through phases of integration and exchange and other difficult times marked by persecution and isolation. What emerges is a common experience that affects everyone. At the MEIS, everyone can rediscover a piece of their history.

Learn about Jewish culture
A National Museum, dedicated to Jewish themes due to the fact that Jews are part of the history of Italy.
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Thank you for this gift to us all, which is and will be the story we are all a part of.

Vera Vigevani Jarach

Why the MEIS is located in Ferrara

The MEIS is located in Ferrara, a unique city that encompasses the various experiences of the millennial history of Italian Jews.          

Present in Ferrara since the 12th century, the Jews have interwoven an intricate relationship with the city. Crucial was the policy of welcome extended by the House of Este and, in particular, dukes Ercole I and Ercole II and which culminated in the edicts inviting the Spanish and Portuguese Jews — driven from their homelands in 1492 — to settle in the city. After the city passed to the Papal States, the ghetto was established in 1627 and the local Jewish community declined only to resume its leading role in the social and economic fabric of Ferrara after 1859, when they gained equal rights. The racial laws and Nazi-fascist persecution obscured the serenity of daily life, but the local community was able to withstand the impact of time and hardship and is still active after more than a thousand years.

The Shoah in Italy

One of the main objectives of the MEIS is to bear witness to and document the Shoah in Italy through temporary and permanent exhibitions, educational workshops, screenings and meetings.

The Fascist persecutions kicked off by the racial laws passed in 1938 — through which the Jews were isolated and alienated from society — peaked in 1943 when thousands of Italian citizens were rounded up and deported to the extermination camps.

Kicked out of their schools and university positions, banished from the professions, Italian Jews were herded to the death trains and killed simply because they were Jews. Many of those who managed to save themselves joined the Resistance, playing a role in the country’s liberation; many continue to remember what happened each and every day, to give a face to those who were annihilated, speaking in schools to ensure that all this never happens again.

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1. 1938: Humanity denied
1. 1938: Humanity denied
1. 1938: Humanity denied
1. 1938: Humanity denied

The area of the old prison is now a place of dialogue and witness

The MEIS belongs to everyone

The MEIS aims to promote dialogue between different cultures, religions and ethnic groups, to serve as a venue for open dialogue and the free flow of ideas. A place where the history of Italy can be rediscovered through a new point of view. To welcome and value diversity has always enriched society, both culturally and humanely: this is why, through the experience of the Jewish minority, the MEIS seeks to give voice and space to everyone.

Next Exhibitions & Events

THROUGH THE EYES OF THE ITALIAN JEWS

THROUGH THE EYES OF THE ITALIAN JEWS

MULTIMEDIA EXHIBITION
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”.
Jews, an Italian story

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.