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Jewish Museum in Amsterdam Wins European Museum Prize

The Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam has been awarded an “Oscar” and $5,000 as winner of the 1989 European Museum Prize.

The 57-year-old institution, which was looted by the Nazis during World War II, is the first museum in the Netherlands ever to receive the prize, which was established by the Strasbourgbased Council of Europe.

The museum was cited for the unique manner in which it presents Jewish culture as part of Dutch culture.

The “Oscar” is a statuette by the French artist Joan Miro. It was presented to the museums director, Judith Belinfante, in Strasbourg.

She brought it home for an unveiling at the museum last week in the presence of the Dutch government’s director general for cultural affairs.

The Jewish Historical Museum was founded in 1932 by a group of local Jewish intellectuals. It began with a very modest collection housed in cramped quarters.

The museum survived the German occupation, but was not reopened until 1955, in its original premises, on the upper floor of an old building.

Subsequently, the Amsterdam municipality took it over. In 1978, plans were made to expand the museum and transfer it to much larger quarters in the former Ashkenazic synagogue, which was left in ruins by the war.

The restoration work took nine years and cost nearly $5 million.

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