Vienna’s Jewish museum re-opens with Hollywood exhibit

Vienna’s Jewish Museum re-opens its doors this week after a thorough renovation, with a new exhibit dedicated to the first film studio bosses in Hollywood, many of whom were Jews emigrated from eastern Europe.

“(It is) a lively house, a house that will show that after 1945 in Vienna a Jewish community emerged again, a very lively community, a very diverse community,” director Danielle Spera told journalists at a preview of the refurbished museum Monday.

The museum, housed in a small Viennese palace, retraces the history of the city’s Jewish community, decimated after Nazi Germany’s invasion of Austria in 1938.

The third biggest in Europe in the early 1900s, Vienna’s Jewish community shrank from some 185,000 before 1938 to just a few thousands after the war, following a mass exodus abroad and the extermination of Jews in Nazi death camps.

“Jewish culture was, is and hopefully always will be an integral part of Vienna,” Vienna’s city councillor in charge of culture, Andreas Mailath-Pokorny, said however on Monday.

The first big exhibit at the museum, which will open to the public on Wednesday, is dedicated to the Jewish heritage in Hollywood, from the first studio bosses who were eastern European emigrees — including Paramount founder Adolf Zukor, Samuel Goldwyn of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, or William Fox — to modern movie characters.

Entitled “Bigger than Life: 100 Years of Hollywood, a Jewish experience,” it will run until April 2012.

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