MEIS Museo Nazionale dell'Ebraismo Italiano e della Shoah

The exhibit "Jews, An Italian Story. The First Thousand Years" communicates the uniqueness of Italian Jewish history, describing how the Jewish presence in Italy was formed and developed throughout the Peninsula from the Roman Age (second century BCE) to the Middle Ages (tenth century CE) and how the Jews of Italy built their own unique identity, even when compared to other places in the diaspora.
MEIS Museo Nazionale dell'Ebraismo Italiano e della Shoah

The continuity of the more than bi-millennial Jewish presence in Italy has been fully recognized and celebrated. Italian Jews are an important component of Italian society, and their stories are essential in order to better understand Italian history and civilization. Their cultural contributions both to Judaism in general and to the European culture at large were extraordinary. During the centuries, the Jews of the Italian peninsula helped forge an intense web of relations between European political realities and Mediterranean nations, economies, and religions. Although a minority, they played a fundamental role in the connection among civilizations. If, on one hand, it is time to recognize the richness of the mutual exchanges between Jews and non Jews in Italy, it is undeniable on the other hand the existence of a persistent hostility towards Jews, even among Italians. Such a negative attitude lasted until the first half of the XX century.

The National Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah intends to illustrate the originality of the Italian Jewish history in the larger context of the European and Mediterranean environment; at the same time, it will promote cultural initiatives that are able to underline the vast patrimony of ideas, artefacts, and experiences that were produced in Italy by the Jews over more than two millennia. To realize these resolutions, there will be a section with temporary shows, plus a variety of collateral institutions, such as a library, a research centre, a children’s wing, seminars and courses, periodic lectures and presentations of new books. Some of these activities will be in place even before the official inauguration of the museum.
The site where the museum will be established is the large architectural complex of a former prison, which is in the city of Ferrara. This complex was built in 1912 and closed in 1992. A qualified architectural restoration and recreation will adapt the actual buildings and transform a place, once destined for reclusion and discrimination, into a special space that will emphasize inclusion and integration. The site of this new national museum is located not too far from the city’s historic Jewish ghetto, local Jewish attractions, and the ancient synagogues. It will be included in a comprehensive tour of the many Jewish sites of the city.
For the realization of this great and significant project, many Italian institutions will work together with generosity and determination: the Ministry for Cultural Patrimony, the UCEI (Union of the Italian Jewish Communities), and local administrations (Municipality, Province, and Region). Key to the achievement of this is the creation of a new Foundation that will be completely dedicated to this scope. The project will also utilize, according to the Law, the expertise of the staff of the Centre of Jewish Contemporary Documentation (CDEC), which is based in Milan.
“Jews, An Italian Story. The First Thousand Years” is about the unique features of Italian Judaism: it describes how it was born and how it developed in the Peninsula from Roman to Middle Age, and how it formed its own unique identity, different from all other places in the Diaspora. Through the video contributions of some experts, rare and valuable objects, immersive pauses, multimodal inserts, reconstructions (Jerusalem Temple, Arch of Titus, Jewish catacombs, Ostia’s and Bova Marina’s synagogues), sounds and songs, the exhibit pinpoints the places of origin and the subsequent scattering of Jewish people. It also follows the courses of the exile to the Western Mediterranean. It documents the stay in Rome and in Southern Italy, it talks about migration, slavery, integration and religious intolerance in relation to the Pagan and the Christian world. It retraces the Early Middle Ages, the political climate characterized by the domination of the Lombards, Byzantines and Muslims, and then the creation of a Jewish culture all over the country.

An introduction to the themes of the Museum will be offered by a permanent multimedia installation - With the eyes of Italian Jews - by Giovanni Carrada and Simonetta Della Seta. Twenty-two hundred years of Italian history and culture in twenty-four minutes, seen and told through the eyes of Italian Jews.

At MEIS is opened the part of the path focused on the Renaissance, with an exhibition of excellence, The Renaissance speaks Hebrew, curated by Giulio Busi and Silvana Greco.


Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.


General admission € 8.00; discounted admission € 6.00 (groups of 8 to 25 persons); schools € 5.00 (two free admissions for persons accompanying each class).
Free admission: children under the age of 6, persons with 100% disability and the person accompanying them, card-carrying journalists and tour guides, ICOM members and uniformed military personnel.


  • Up to age 6
  • Disabled persons with one accompanying person
  • Tourist guides
  • Journalists
  • Conscripts
last modified Oct 22, 2019 11:52
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