The permanent exhibition "The Mendelssohns in Jägerstrasse", conceived for the 18th annual Jewish Culture Days in 2004, is housed in the former counter hall of the Mendelssohn Bank, which was built in 1890 and later converted into a coach house. It was to the side wings of this building that Joseph and Abraham Mendelssohn, the eldest sons of the philosopher merchant Moses Mendelssohn, relocated the offices of the family bank in 1815, which had been established by Joseph in 1795.
In those days, the eastern end of Jägerstrasse was already the nucleus of Berlin"s banking district, as it was home to two leading Prussian banks: the Königliche Giro- und Lehnbank and the Preussische Seehandlung. From this auspicious location, the descendants of Joseph Mendelssohn und Abraham Mendelssohn Bartholdy were able to grow the family business into Berlin´s largest private banking house - until its forced liquidation by the National Socialist regime.
The exhibition covers the exciting history of this venerable financial institution and the lives of the Mendelssohn bankers, who until 1917 resided in the bank´s buildings themselves or in palatial townhomes nearby. The family´s generous patronage of the arts is also highlighted, which allowed the museums of Berlin to acquire many important works, as well as their many charitable activities. Another topic is the impressive network of social contacts, business associates and friends that the family developed around of Jägerstrasse, which included captains of industry as well as leading scientists, musicians and artists.
The luminaries who were both clients of the bank as well as family intimates include the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, sculptor Christian Daniel Rauch, historian Leopold von Ranke, and composers/musicians Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Clara Schumann and Joseph Joachim.
The exhibition also addresses the expropriation of the Mendelssohn Bank by the Nazis, as well as efforts during the postwar period to keep the legacy of one of the most illustrious of German families from being forgotten. These efforts included the foundation of the Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft in 1967 and of the Jägerstrasse Historical Forum in 2005, which in the meantime has merged with the Mendelssohn-Gesellschaft.
The exhibition is supplemented by a "media station" located in the foyer of the building. Here, visitors can listen to interviews recorded with family descendants as well as to musical compositions of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Fanny Hensel and Arnold Mendelssohn. The media station also offers a digital-format family tree of the Mendelssohn family going back seven generations, as compiled by the Berlin State Library in 2007. Finally, DVD footage of the premiere staging of an unpublished comic opera fragment by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy is available for viewing. This performance was recorded on the occasion of the Berlin reunion of Moses Mendelssohn"s descendants, held in the Mendelssohn-Remise in October of 2007. For further details, please see: Exhibition texts.