The Jewish Museum
Sat-Tue and Thu, 11am-5:45pm; Fri, 11am-4pm; Wed, closed
Nearby Subway Stops
6 at 96th St.
- Nearby Parking Lots
$15, $12 seniors, $7.50 students, free for children under 18; free on Saturdays
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
| Thru 2/12 |
|Masterpieces & Curiosities: Memphis Does Hanukkah|
| Ongoing |
|"Culture and Continuity: The Jewish Journey"|
Spanning two floors and four thousand years, the Jewish Museum's sweeping permanent exhibition takes an ambitious, largely successful stab at defining a plurality of Jewish identities and at deciphering just how Judaism has managed to survive so much for so long. Thankfully, the exhibit, "Culture and Continuity: The Jewish Journey," is broken down into four visitor-friendly, thematic chunks, beginning on the top floor and proceeding downwards in chronological order. Expect artifacts from the ancient world, objects used for worship, engravings, torah scrolls, maps, personal testimonies, photographs and even video footage. The Jewish Museum's acquisitions extend well beyond "Culture and Continuity" to encompass 25,000 odd pieces, with works by heavyweights such as Max Liebermann, Elie Nadelman, Mark Rothko, and Alfred Stieglitz. Temporary exhibitions tend to draw a larger, broader audience. Case in point: during its centennial summer of 2004, the museum hosted a highly popular and praised special exhibition, "Modigliani: Beyond the Myth." Judge Mayer Sulzberger gave the Jewish Museum its start in 1904, with a gift of 26 ceremonial objects. The next big break came in 1944, when Frieda Warburg, widow of the German-Jewish businessman and philanthropist Felix Warburg, donated her family's grand French Gothic mansion. The museum moved into the Warburgs' plum Fifth Avenue digs shortly thereafter, adding its name to the "Museum Mile" roster. In 1993, a major renovation doubled the amount of gallery space and produced classrooms, an auditorium, and the kosher, cafeteria-style Cafe Weissman. There's also the requisite gift shop trinkets, stationery, a massive book selection, a Hebrew take on the iconic "I Love NY" T-shirt and the more specialized, adjacent Celebrations Design Shop.Permanent Collection
"Culture and Continuity: A Jewish Journey" is divided in four: "Forging an Identity," "Interpreting a Tradition," "Confronting Modernity," and "Realizing a Future." Perhaps the most intriguing, "Interpreting a Tradition" explores the wealth and variety of Jewish celebrations worldwide, from daily rituals to the highest holidays. Least worthwhile? The underdeveloped, less focused "Realizing a Future".
Celebrations Jewish Museum Design Shop
Forget typical gift shop fare. The Design Shop's glass shelves and cases display unique, beautifully wrought silver goods--candlesticks, cups, dishes, mezuzahs--plus ceramics, jewelry, fine arts prints, and ketubahs. The prices, alas, are above average as well.
The Jewish Museum provides children (ages 5-12) with a free audio guide to the permanent collection. Groups of 10 or more adults may arrange guided tours of the museum's permanent exhibition or of a current special exhibition. Some tour packages include dining or hotel discounts.
The Museum provides a slew of school programs and teacher workshops and even sponsors a graduate program to earn a master's degree in Jewish Art & Material Culture through the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Storytelling, games, arts and crafts programs for children are featured each Sunday. The museum also frequently hosts a special children's exhibition, such as the recent "Camels and Caravans: Daily Life in Ancient Israel," related from the perspective of two 1st century C.E. kids.