The planned facade for the museum.(National Museum of the Jewish People)
Navigate to News section

D.C. Museum Promises Libeskind, Holograms

Plans for National Museum of the Jewish People Take Shape

Marc Tracy
August 17, 2011
The planned facade for the museum.(National Museum of the Jewish People)

The architect Daniel Libeskind’s brand of metallic, offbeat right-angles and theory-heavy buildings could be coming to Washington, D.C., in the form of a planned National Museum of the Jewish People at an old post office building on Pennsylvania Avenue. According to the museum’s Website—which mistakenly implies that Bruce Springsteen is among the eponymous Jewish People—it would take over the post office site along with a Hyatt, and would contain “holographically-created images of important buildings designed by famous Jewish architects” (I can think of one!). Also:

an interactive display will offer the visitor, such as a young chess enthusiast, the ability to play a game of chess against Bobby Fisher or other Jewish world champion chess players whose games are recorded on super computers. Other exciting displays in this wing will offer the visitor the challenge of hitting a computerized Sandy Koufax fastball.

That was a challenge even for Mickey Mantle!

Quirks aside, the existing structure this museum would most obviously resemble is the Jewish Museum in Berlin, also designed by Libeskind, who was born in Poland to Holocaust survivors but grew up in the United States. When I visited it, I found the obvious spatial symbolism—accompanied by didactic explanations of the obvious spatial symbolism—self-aggrandizing, even if the exhibits were superb. Hopefully the museum will win the bid for the site (it is reportedly up against Donald Trump, among others) and do a good job. Given the rest of downtown D.C.’s architecture, it will by definition be an improvement.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.