Council of American Jewish Museums
          E-News | February 2014   
In This Issue
Valuable Models
Joining Forces
Retreat/Forward at Bon Secours
New Curator in DC
CAJM is ... 
Jewish art and history museums, historic sites, historical and archival societies, Holocaust centers, synagogue museums, Jewish Community Center galleries, children's museums, and university galleries ...  the professionals and volunteers who work in them ...  the children, adults, and families who visit them ...  the patrons who support them ...  the organization that keeps them vital.



At our upcoming CAJM Retreat (see further below), Laura Schiavo, Assistant Professor of Museum Studies at The George Washington University and a specialist on collections management, curatorial research, and public history, will lead a distinguished trio in exploring meanings of community and civic engagement. What is the responsibility of Jewish museums to address pressing social, economic, and political issues? To what extent should our mission statements reflect broad contemporary values? How can we explore neglected stories in communities to help visitors better understand Jewish culture and history and make connections between the past and the present? Panelists musing on these challenging questions will be Barbara Schaffer Bacon, Co-Director, Animating Democracy, a program of Americans For the ArtsAleisa Fishman, Director, Global Classroom, US Holocaust Memorial Museum; and Morris Vogel, President of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum (right).



Partnering with collegial organizations is one important model that allows Jewish museums to share resources and fulfill their missions. And in the past few years, there has been a trend to forge formal structural alliances to the benefit of both institutional partners - as examples, the Jewish Museum of Florida's merger with Florida International University and The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life's with the University of California at Berkeley. Magnes Director Alla Efimova tells us that the museum's mission has changed strategically to prioritize teaching and research. "It is very exciting to watch students from different backgrounds and disciplines create new interpretive frameworks around materials that had previously been accessible only to connoisseurs." Now we can report two more exciting instances: The Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation and The Rosenbach Museum & Library (above) have come together to form The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia. According to Rosenbach Curator Judith Guston, the combined holdings make up one of the greatest collections of rare books, manuscripts, Americana, and art anywhere in the world. Farther south, the Duke Center for Jewish Studies recently completed a merger with the Jewish Heritage Foundation of North Carolina. The Center is digitizing and cataloging the Foundation's archival holdings and has mounted a digital version of its major exhibition Down Home (above right). Hundreds of thousands saw this exhibit as it traveled statewide to venues including the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh and the Levine Museum of the South in Charlotte for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Follow this link to visit the digital version.



Reflect, Regroup, Recharge. That's the motto of the Bon Secours Retreat and Conference Center ... and it's also our plan for Retreat/Forward: Connecting with Communities in Changing Times, next month's annual CAJM gathering, March 23-25. Come enjoy intriguing sessions, stimulating conversations with colleagues, entertainment in the evenings, a cocktail reception, delicious meals and, when breaks are needed, the Center's tranquil woodland setting for strolling or meditating. Follow this link to register.



Retreat Co-Chair Zachary Levine recently made an NYC-to-DC move to become Curator for the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington-Lillian & Albert Small Jewish Museum. Levine was previously Curator at the Yeshiva University Museum, where he developed exhibitions on such subjects as the concept of the eruv, Jewish textiles in Prague, Jewish home movies from the 1930s, confessional comic books, and contemporary art. A Maryland native, he returns to the Mid-Atlantic region to help drive the interpretive approach and develop the core exhibition for the JHSGW's new Jewish history and culture museum. Look for more information in future issues as this major cultural institution evolves.



CAJM offers resources for learning all year round on our website and at our annual conference, models professional standards, offers opportunities for information exchange.; and works on behalf of Jewish museums and museums with Jewish content, like the American Jewish Museum at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, currently presenting The Circus of Life: Work by Susan Winicour (right).
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