The exhibition “Venice, the Jews and Europe”, organised to mark the fifth centenary of the institution of the Venice Ghetto, describes the circumstances that underlie the origins, creation and transformations of the first ‘enclosure’ for Jews in the world. The broad scope of the exhibition will also examine the relationships the Ghetto established with the rest of the city, and with other Jewish and non-Jewish communities in Italy and Europe. The aim is to highlight the richness of relationships between Jews, Venice and civil society during various periods in the long history of their presence in the city, in the Veneto, and in the wider European and Mediterranean scene. The exhibition aims to provide the many visitors to the lagoon city with an increased awareness of the cultural diversity that existed in cosmopolitan Venice at the beginning of the sixteenth century, including the combination of knowledge, skills and traditions that still remain its most important heritage.
In addition to investigating the specific areas of the three Ghettos (Nuovo, Vecchio and Nuovissimo), the exhibition will also focus on the history of cultural and linguistic exchanges, and the craftsmanship and trades the Jewish community shared with the Christian population and other minorities in a mercantile centre of exceptional significance. The time span covered extends beyond the fall of the Republic and the opening of the Ghetto gates to also focus on the role of Jews during the period of assimilation and in the twentieth century.
In fact, the underlying assumption of the exhibition project is that the history of the Ghetto should be studied in the broader context of the Venetian Republic’s treatment of the variety of national, ethnic and religious minorities who lived in the capital city of a ‘world economy’, as historian Fernand Braudel called it. But it is also important to show how these relationships gradually extended to a much vaster geographical area, persisting over time by adapting to political, social and cultural changes.
Organised into ten sections within the eleven rooms of the Doge’s apartments, paintings, drawings, books and documents illustrate a story of long-term relationships and exchanges. Interactive technology in the form of video, touch-screens and models will complement the exhibition, increasing its accessibility to the public. A series of themed events linked to the exhibition will also be held, designed to interest a wide audience. These will include talks with prominent personalities, travel stories, literature, music and theatre.