Berlin landmark to open one year late because of work to improve security and cope with more visitors.
The opening of Daniel Libeskind’s £41m Jewish Museum in Berlin has been put back a year because extra work is needed on the landmark building.

The widely praised museum will now open in October 2001, rather than this October.

The move follows a re-evaluation of security surrounding the site. A spokesperson said this was necessary because the status of the museum had changed. It was originally planned as an annexe to the Berlin Museum, but it was later decided to make it a stand-alone Jewish Museum. This meant that extra security measures were needed.

Additional work was also required following a reassessment of visitor number predictions, which showed that the museum could get twice as many visitors as first expected. The cost of the extra work has not yet been calculated. It includes building a new fence around the museum, installing a high-tech security entrance and putting in new air-conditioning.

Studio Daniel Libeskind partner Nina Libeskind said of the plans: “Before it became a Jewish Museum nobody worried too much. But every Jewish institution has to have some kind of security, even a bagel shop.”

She added: “We are not frustrated. These things happen.” The beefed-up security precautions mean that a refit of the entrance to the museum is needed. Revolving doors will be replaced by four airport-style security rooms.

Every Jewish institution has to have security, even a bagel shop

Nina Libeskind, Parter, Studio Daniel Libeskind

Nina Libeskind said: “It’s a fairly major refit of that area. The work will change the circulation of the ground floor.” The air-conditioning was needed to cope with increased visitor numbers and computers that form part of the exhibitions.

A recent survey carried out by the museum estimated that 600 000 people a year would be visiting the museum, rather than the 300 000 originally predicted.

Nina Libeskind said the heat generated by the computers changed the air-conditioning needs in the exhibition space. She said: “There are totally different ideas behind the exhibitions. It’s no longer just objects on the wall but an IT element as well.”

The cloakroom in the entrance area will also be enlarged to cope with the extra visitors. Nina Libeskind said that the work would probably take about six months to complete once it had been put out to tender.

The building shell was finished in 1999 and was inundated with visitors last year, despite having no exhibits in place. It was closed at the end of last year.