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Bay exhibitions

On each of the three levels, the smac has a separate exhibition area devoted to the remarkable museum building and its biography. These exhibitions focus on the architect Erich Mendelsohn, the Schocken department store company, and its co-founder Salman Schocken.

They are located in the bays that line the inside of the curved window front of the former department store. The entire façade with its prominent, horizontal rows of windows projects outward from the building like a large bay window. The bay areas are separated from the archaeological exhibition by means of walls running parallel to the window front, thus creating a long curved room. Along the windows in all three exhibitions there is a timeline showing important biographical and historical events, which serves as a chronological guide.


Exhibition texts: German / English

Audio guide: German / English


Bay 1

Erich Mendelsohn

Erich Mendelsohn (1887–1953) designed the Chemnitz department store for the Schocken Brothers department store company in 1927. The architect had already won fame as a pioneer of Modernist architecture in early 1920s.

In the exhibition, 17 models of his most celebrated buildings document Mendelsohn’s artistic development and his distinctive style against the background of his German-Jewish biography. His works include the Einstein Tower in Potsdam (constructed 1920–24), the Herrmann, Steinberg & Co. hat factory in Luckenwalde (1920–23), the Schocken department store in Stuttgart (1926–28), which was demolished in 1960, the Universum cinema in Berlin (1927–29), the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea, England (1935), the Anglo-Palestine Bank in Jerusalem (1937–39) and the Park Synagogue in Cleveland, Ohio (1949–53). The architectural models were created as part of a student project at the Fachhochschule (University of Applied Sciences) in Mainz and have previously been exhibited in a travelling exhibition organised by the German Foreign Office, which was shown on three continents.


Bay 2

The Schocken department store company

The rise of the Schocken company to the fourth largest chain of department stores in Germany began in the Saxon town of Zwickau. It was there that the brothers Simon and Salman Schocken developed their successful department store concept. Their aim of supplying good quality at a low price was attractive to the general public and became a successful business model. With its highly centralised organisation, purchasing, selling, advertising and personnel management were all organised from Zwickau.

Objects loaned and donated by former employees and customers illustrate the early period of the Chemnitz “Schocken”, which remained a department store for seventy years.


Bay 3

Salman Schocken

Salman Schocken (1877–1959) was not only a businessman but also a passionate collector and reader of rare books and works of art. With its simulated rows of books, this exhibition area is designed to reflect Salman Schocken’s activities as the founder of an outstanding library and a publishing house. Following his emigration to Palestine in 1934, he commissioned Erich Mendelsohn to design the Schocken Library in Jerusalem, which still exists. Its holdings include such important works as the Nuremberg Mahzor, a 14th-century illuminated manuscript containing the Jewish services for all occasions throughout the year, a facsimile of which is on show here.   

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