Ralph Applebaum Associates

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Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center

Moscow, Russia

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The Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center is a museum dedicated to the history of Russian Jews, from the 18th century up until the present day. It also aims to provide a constructive environment for a wider dialogue between different Russian ethnicities and minorities.

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Housed in an enormous modernist, avant-garde former transportation depot, RAA was invited to plan and design Russia’s first truly interactive museum of history. Working with an international scholarly council, we devised a unique interpretive scheme. It starts with ancient Judaism before moving into the story of Jewish migration to Russia. It details everyday life in Jewish shtetls and continues through the core events in Russian history—the Revolution, the Civil War, the Great Patriotic War, and Perestroika.

Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center
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We used artifacts, environmentally scaled filmic elements, large-screen interactive media, and theatrical design in a setting that maintains scholarly credibility and seriousness, but whose tone is one of lively yet respectful engagement.

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A 4-D animated film celebrates the shared foundations of the three monotheistic religions and recounts biblical stories from creation of the world through destruction of the Second Temple. A 120-meter timeline of Russian Jewish history links eight “studios”—theatrical settings that tell the story of Russian Jewry through an assemblage of elements: large-scale immersive films, cutting-edge interactive experiences, oral-history theaters, and artifacts ranging from political broadsides to a Great Patriotic War-era T-34 tank and full-scale aircraft.

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Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center_9
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In the museum’s Tolerance Center, short films present conteporary stories of intolerance in Russia, followed by a program of probing questions and visitor polling. The center invites school groups, visitors representing Russia’s many ethnicities, and adherents of various religions to explore difficult issues in an environment that encourages positive social engagement. Also included are a Children’s Center, a Research Center, and a Temporary Exhibitions gallery.

Year 2012

Size 92,731 square feet

Architect Konstantin Melnikov (1927)

AwardsGOOD DESIGN® Award: Winner, EnvironmentsGraphis Design Annual: GoldIndustrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), International Design Excellence Award (IDEA): Finalist, EnvironmentsThe Art Newspaper (Russia): Winner, Museum of the Year

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Photography ©Acciona Producciones y Diseño S.A