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Berlin Grants Autonomy to Its New Jewish Museum

Berlin authorities have decided to grant the city’s Jewish museum cultural autonomy, potentially ending a long-running dispute between the Berlin Jewish community and city officials.

The agreement between the museum’s director, Michael Blumenthal, and Berlin cultural senator Peter Radunski gives the museum control over exhibitions and displays as well as personnel decisions.

Berlin cultural officials insisted for years on retaining control over the conception and display of exhibits in the Jewish museum. They envisioned a museum dedicated primarily to the display of Jewish life in Berlin.

The refusal of the previous director, Amnon Barzel, to realize this concept, led to his dismissal last year by the Berlin government.

The dispute delayed by two years the opening of the new Jewish museum, a striking and highly praised building designed by Jewish architect Daniel Libeskind.

The Jewish museum, now slated to open in 1999, is part of a larger group of museums that are administered by the city of Berlin.

Blumenthal was treasury secretary during the Carter administration.

The agreement must still be approved by the Berlin Parliament.

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