The Jewish Museum’s long-running collection exhibition, Culture and Continuity: The Jewish Journey, originally mounted in 1993, recently close, making way for a major, new collection display, Scenes from the Collection, opening in Fall 2017. Culture and Continuity’s last day on view was Sunday, February 12, 2017.
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The Jewish Museum‘s unparalleled collection spans 4,000 years of Jewish culture through nearly 30,000 objects, including painting, sculpture, photography, decorative arts, ceremonial objects, antiquities, works on paper, and media. Scenes from the Collection will transform the Museum’s third floor and feature over 650 works from antiquities to contemporary art – many of which will be on view for the first time at the Museum. The exhibition was designed by Tsao & McKown Architects.
Hanukkah Lamp, Orivit-Aktiengesellschaft (1900-1905), Köln-Braunsfeld (Germany), 1900-05. White metal: cast and silver-plated; glass: mold formed, 13⅞ x 12¾ x 5 5/16 in. (35.3 x 32.4 x 13.5 cm). The Jewish Museum, New York, Gift of Dr. Harry G. Friedman (?), F 3573.
The new exhibition will be divided into eight different sections, or scenes, highlighting the diversity and depth of the collection. The new installation will present the collection as a reflection of the continual evolution that is the essence of Jewish identity, as well as a powerful expression of artistic and cultural creativity.
“Scenes from the Collection will immerse our visitors in a dynamic and engaging experience. Developed collaboratively among the Museum’s curatorial staff, the new installation is a reflection of the Jewish Museum’s unique position as an art museum exploring Jewish culture and identity through a contemporary lens,” said Claudia Gould, Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director of the Jewish Museum.
Torah Binder, Rabat (Morocco), 19th century. Cotton: embroidered with silk thread, 9 1/2 × 103 3/4 in. (24.1 × 263.5 cm). The Jewish Museum, New York, Gift of Sonia Cohen Azagury, 2004-64.
In addition, Scenes from the Collection will be flexible, with four scenes changing annually, and one changing every six months, so that different subjects can be examined while more of the collection is on view. The stories the works of art tell will illuminate multiple perspectives on being Jewish in the past and present, how Jewish culture intersects with art and the art world, and how it is part of the larger world of global interconnections.
The eight scenes are:
Scenes from the Collection will start from the beginning – the year 1904 when the Museum was founded with a gift of ceremonial objects from Judge Mayer Sulzberger. Central to this section will be the question of what, why, and how the Museum has collected and what this says about the changing identity of the institution, the Jewish community, and the art world.
Laurie Simmons (American, b. 1949), Woman Listening to Radio, 1978. Gelatin silver print, sheet: 7 15/16 × 9 15/16 in. (20.2 × 25.2 cm); image: 5 3/16 × 8 in. (13.2 × 20.3 cm). The Jewish Museum, New York, Purchase: Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund, 2013-1. © Laurie Simmons, image courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York
In “Constellations,” over 50 of the most visually powerful and culturally significant works in the collection – from antiquities to the twenty-first century – will be exhibited as individual gems but with powerful thematic connections to one another. Such issues will be explored as transforming and transcending tradition, cultural distinctiveness and universality, and ever-changing notions of identity. Groups of works will relate to each other aesthetically or contextually, creating multiple conversations. For example, three works that can be seen as challenging tradition are Peter Blume’s Pig’s Feet and Vinegar (1927), Laurie Simmons’ Woman Listening to Radio (1978), and Nicole Eisenman’s Seder (2011).
Nicole Eisenman (American, b. France, 1965), Seder, 2010. Oil on canvas, 39 1/16 × 48 in. (99.2 × 121.9 cm). The Jewish Museum, New York, Purchase Lore Ross Bequest; Milton and Miriam Handler Endowment Fund; and Fine Arts Acquisitions Committee Fund, 2011-3 © Nicole Eisenman.