Julia Klein

Julia M. Klein is a cultural reporter and critic based in Philadelphia. She is writing a book on the postmodern museum.

Recent Articles

From the Ashes, a Jewish Museum

L ike a streak of lightning or an unraveling Star of David, the Jewish Museum Berlin zigzags through the city's Kreuzberg section, just steps away from graffiti-covered storefronts and boxy, high-rise public housing. Clad in zinc, its facade broken with irregular slashes of glass, it gleams like a spaceship plopped down in an alien landscape. Thanks both to its wondrous incongruity and its emotional impact, Daniel Libeskind's empty, award-winning building has become one of the new German capital's chief tourist magnets, attracting about 350,000 visitors since its completion two years ago. One day last fall, while a policeman watched for terrorists, I observed visitors wandering the grounds and happily snapping photographs. The crowds were sure to multiply when the museum opened for business. But would they be equally enthusiastic about what they saw inside? The $87-million museum has had a tumultuous history. Conceived in the 1970s as an extension of the Berlin City Museum, the Jewish...

Between Law and Justice

In a modest hotel room, Bobby Esposito and Cynthia Bennington, two young assistant district attorneys, have just made love for the first time. For the high-toned Bennington, the occasion is a breakthrough. "I've never had an orgasm before," she tells Esposito. He's pleased, but his mind is elsewhere. He's worried about inequities in the system. "I've always been aware that there's a difference between the law and justice," he says. "You know, it's not anybody's fault. There's no heavies here. They can be very different, very far apart, and I'm hoping somewhere in my life to bring the two closer together." The chasm between justice and the American justice system has emerged as the chief theme of 100 Centre Street, the new A&E series created by veteran film director Sidney Lumet. This has long been one of Lumet's preoccupations. His protagonists, idealists who start out fighting corruption, often end up enveloped or defeated by it. In the early episodes of 100 Centre Street --which...

Lost in Translation

P ast summer the George family traveled to the nation's capital from their northern California reservation with a clear agenda: to raise awareness of the Hupas' battle to protect their land and culture from environmental threats. "America has been educated from a colonial, oppressive perspective, and then Disney has come along and colored who we are," said Laura Lee George, an assistant school superintendent whose husband, Merv George, Sr., is the tribe's ceremonial leader. Laura Lee said she hoped the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)--which paid for their trip--would help alter those perceptions. Emil Her Many Horses, the Lakota curator of the museum's Our Universes exhibition, and Bruce Bernstein, the museum's assistant director for cultural resources, had their own agenda. They wanted the Georges to select and discuss Hupa baskets, ceremonial garments, and other artifacts from the museum's 800,000-object collection for a gallery on the tribe's...