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The Jewish Museum
1109 5th Ave at 92nd St
New York, NY 10128

The Jewish Museum
1109 5th Ave at 92nd St
New York, NY 10128
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Upcoming Events

Fri, Apr 28

Friday, April 28, 2017


2 PM

Gallery Talks
The Activist Shopper

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Sat, Apr 29

Saturday, April 29, 2017


11 AM

Free Saturdays

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Sun, Apr 30

Sunday, April 30, 2017


10:30 AM

Access Family Workshop
The Arcades: Contemporary Art and Walter Benjamin

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Sun, Apr 30

Sunday, April 30, 2017


1 PM

Studio Art Sessions
City Scape Sculpture

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Sun, Apr 30

Sunday, April 30, 2017


2 PM

Access Family Workshop
The Arcades: Contemporary Art and Walter Benjamin

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Sun, Apr 30

Sunday, April 30, 2017


3 PM

Walking Tour
New York Flânerie

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Wed, May 3

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


10:30 AM

JM Journeys
Selections from the Collection

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Wed, May 3

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


6:30 PM

Jewish Book Council Presents: Unpacking the Book
2017 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature Finalists in Conversation

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Who We Are

Welcome to the Jewish Museum, a museum in New York City at the intersection of art and Jewish culture for people of all backgrounds. Whether you visit our home in the elegant Warburg mansion on Museum Mile, or engage with us online, there is something for everyone. Through our exhibitions, programs, and collection of nearly 30,000 works of art, ceremonial objects, and media, visitors can journey through 4,000 years of art and Jewish culture from around the world.

As an art museum representing the diversity of Jewish culture and identity, the Jewish Museum believes in free expression and an open society. We embrace multiple viewpoints regardless of race, gender, national origin, or religion, and we oppose discrimination in all its forms.

Our exhibitions and public programs provide platforms for cross-cultural dialogue, fostering empathy, mutual understanding, and respect. We champion the powerful roles art and artists can play in our communities, both inside and outside the Museum’s walls.

Our Mission

The Jewish Museum is dedicated to the enjoyment, understanding, and preservation of the artistic and cultural heritage of the Jewish people through its unparalleled collections and distinguished exhibitions. Learn More


The Jewish Museum was founded in 1904 in the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where it was housed for more than four decades. Now located in the landmark Warburg mansion, this elegant former residence has been the home of the Museum since 1947Learn More

From the Blog

Creating Light in Darkness: Remembering the Holocaust on... Read More

Max Becher, Andrea Robbins, Dachau, Bank of Wuerm River, 1994

Yom HaShoah is the day established by the State of Israel as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. As we remember and honor the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, many remarkable stories can be told through works of art found in the Jewish Museum’s collection, offering a reminder of the ability of human creativity to transcend such horrible anguish.

One object in the Museum’s collection followed an especially circuitous route. Created as a symbol of gratitude in a displaced persons camp in Germany as Holocaust survivors began their new lives after the end of World War II, it was given to the Jewish Museum in 1945. It also traveled to Washington, D.C. in 2011 for a presentation at the White House.

Hanukkah Lamp, Landsberg am Lech, Germany, 1945, Gift of General Joseph T. McNarney

Created in a liminal state, this Hanukkah lamp from 1945 was hammered out of cartridge scraps and shell casings by Jews in the Landsberg/Lech Displaced Persons Camp in Germany. From 1945 to 1952, more than 250,000 Jews lived in camps and urban centers in Germany, Austria, and Italy. Filled with survivors of Nazi atrocities who had been ripped from their lives and families, the camps were home for people not only suffering from the trauma of war, but also those seeking out their families and loved ones, not knowing who had survived and who had not. Unwilling, or unable, to return to their homes from before the war, these camps offered a halfway house for survivors as they navigated the course of their new lives.

In an effort to give them usable skills as they reestablished themselves, the residents received vocational training in manual labor as a means of changing their economic conditions. The Hanukkah lamp was created in one of those workshops and dedicated to General Joseph T. McNarney, who served as the Commander in Chief of United States Forces in Europe from November 1945 to March 1947. In that capacity, he was responsible for the displaced persons camps in Germany and Austria. The lamp was presented to him shortly after he took office, perhaps at a visit to the camp. McNarney was considered kindhearted and humane, and when Jews fleeing postwar pogroms in Poland illegally infiltrated the American-controlled sector, he granted them shelter and care.

In addition, General McNarney enabled the publication of a complete edition of the Talmud to meet the thirst for Jewish education among surviving European Jews. Acceding to the impassioned plea of Rabbi Philip S. Bernstein, the American advisor on Jewish affairs, McNarney scrounged for scarce paper, imported sets of the Talmud from America to make offset copies, and requisitioned a printing plant to publish the edition, which came out in 1948.

The Hebrew inscription on the lamp, “A great miracle happened there,” is found on the tops or dreidels that children play with on Hanukkah in Ashkenazi communities. The phrase refers to the miracle of Hanukkah, but may also poignantly signify the liberation and salvation of the Jewish refugees.

General McNarney wrote: “The residents of this Center have established a number of training schools in several forms of craftsmanship and in one of these schools the students have fabricated a Menorah in the Hebrew tradition. They have inscribed and presented it to me as an expression of their gratitude to the Armed Forces of the United States.”

“I feel that in even greater measure, it symbolizes the restoration to health of these victims of Nazism and their will to live productive and useful lives,” General McNarney concluded.

On December 8, 2011 the menorah travelled with curator Susan Braunstein to the White House where it stood next to President Barack Obama as he addressed the assembled guests such as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The lamp was specifically chosen because the 2011 holiday season was dedicated to honoring the men and women who serve so courageously in the Armed Forces. It burned brightly reminding us, then as now, of the light that is able to be created in dark places.

Jewish Museum curator Susan Braunstein at the White House with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on December 8, 2011

On Yom HaShoah, April 24 at 11:30 am, please join author Annette Libeskind Berkovits at the Jewish Museum for a discussion about her father’s remarkable story of survival during WWII as told her in book, In the Unlikeliest of Places: How Nachman Libeskind Survived the Nazis, Gulags, and Soviet Communism. She will be introduced by her brother, the renowned architect Daniel Libeskind. This event is free with Museum admission and RSVP.

— Ruth Andrew Ellenson, Editorial Brand Manager, The Jewish Museum

Creating Light in Darkness: Remembering the Holocaust on Yom HaShoah was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Portraying Mother, Identifying Self Read More
“When the Jewish Museum asked me to make an artwork for the lobby … I realized the most Jewish thing I could possibly do would be to make a painting of my mother.”
— Alex Israel

On view through Sunday, April 23 in the lobby of the Jewish Museum’s Warburg Mansion, Self-Portrait (Mom) is a 2016 painting by Alex Israel that, as the title suggests, portrays the artist’s mother within the profile of the artist’s head. The painting is featured in the latest iteration of the ongoing Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings, a series of artist commissions for the Museum’s lobby. The Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings series, building upon a 1970 exhibition entitled Using Walls, has presented six exhibitions of new or adapted works of art since its inception in 2013.

Installation view of the exhibition Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings: Alex Israel, November 4, 2016 — April 23, 2017. The Jewish Museum, New York. Photo: Will Ragozzino/

Alex Israel’s painting appears particularly at home in the Museum (formerly the residence of Jewish philanthropists Felix and Frieda Schiff Warburg). Perhaps this is because Israel’s approach and subject resonate with the Jewish Museum’s own collection, which contains hundreds of portraits from the 18th century through to today. Even more relevant to Self-Portrait (Mom), the Museum maintains surprisingly numerous portraits of mothers and, in particular, mothers of the artists who depicted them.

Then again, it may be unsurprising that visual representations of mothers across eras and mediums have made their way into the Museum’s figurative hands (pardon the pun). As Kelly Taxter, Associate Curator, underscores in the gallery guide that accompanies the exhibition:

Characters from television and film have propagated Jewish stereotypes, including the yiddishe mamaleh (Jewish mother). She is loving, yet smothering, and offers unsolicited food, observations, and advice to her children as she simultaneously riddles them with guilt. Examples include cringe-worthy characters like Sylvia, Fran Drescher’s materialistic, whiny mother on television’s The Nanny, and, on the flip side, the ultra-groovy Roz Focker from the film Meet the Fockers.

It is only fitting that an institution dedicated to investigating the intersection between art and Jewish culture would (incidentally or intentionally) explore aesthetic explorations of mother figures. Taxter goes on to assert that Israel’s depiction of his mother “stands in stark contrast” to trite versions of the Jewish mother that have been proliferated in the media — as do, in fact, other mother portraits that have been acquired by the Jewish Museum.

Arlene Gottfried, Mommie kissing Bubbie goodbye on East 14 Street, 1991, from Family, silver dye bleach print. The Jewish Museum, New York. Purchase: Photography Acquisitions Committee Fund, 2001–31

Take, for instance, Arlene Gottfried’s Mommie kissing Bubbie goodbye on East 14 Street (1991). The photograph is part of her Family series that seeks to capture three stages of motherhood through Gottfried’s grandmother, mother, and sister. The photographer intends for the series to depict her “family’s journey: my mother’s illness and my grandmother’s passing and my sister’s choice to have a child later in life so that the family would continue.” The corporeal intimacy between her mother and grandmother produces a twinning effect — the parallel heights, statures, and clothing reflect one another. The resulting mirrored figures are not coincidental: Gottfried seems to seize on this frank display of affection to illustrate how one life stage begets the next, harnessing the nature of the photographic medium to freeze her family in time.

Larry Sultan, Untitled (Mom Posing in Front of Green Wall), 1983–89, chromogenic color print. The Jewish Museum, New York. Purchase: Ferkauf Fund

Like Gottfried, Larry Sultan also uses the medium of photography to immortalize his relatives. With Untitled (Mom Posing in Front of Green Wall) (1983–89), Sultan captures his mother standing within his childhood home. The artist articulates his drive to document his parents as having “more to do with love than with sociology . . . I realize that beyond the rolls of film and the few good pictures, the demands of my project and my confusion about its meaning, is the wish to take photography literally. To stop time. I want my parents to live forever.” Gazing boldly and impenetrably into the lens of her son’s camera, Sultan’s mother commands the viewer’s attention. Her erect and statuesque form appears immovable, as if she has become a permanent fixture of the room — a clearly deliberate visualization on the part of Sultan.

Alex Israel, Self-Portrait, 2013. Acrylic and bondo on fiberglass. Photograph by Hans-Georg Gull, courtesy of the artist.

Through these delicately nuanced and profoundly personal portraits of their own Jewish mothers, Gottfried and Sultan rebel against the one-note portrayals that regularly inundate our television and film screens. Perhaps Gottfried and Sultan are able to achieve such representations because these works serve, in Taxter’s words when describing the painting by Alex Israel, as “double portraits”: the photographs depict their subjects as much as the artists who created them. Israel, in painting his own Self-Portrait (Mom), seems uniquely aware of the potential for self-identification through mother’s image. By crafting within the silhouette of his own head an idealized vision of his mother — a “timelessly elegant” and “confident” woman who appears “appropriated from the all-American, aspirational advertisements of Ralph Lauren,” claims Taxter — Israel reckons with his own identity.

Don’t miss the final weekend of Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings: Alex Israel on view through Sunday, April 23. Explore the Jewish Museum’s online collection to find other portraits of mothers or relating to motherhood, including: Neil Sidney Kerner’s Mother and Child (1946, gelatin silver print); Laurie Simmons’ Mother/Nursery (1976, gelatin silver print); Neil Winokur’s Mom and Dad (1990, silver dye bleach print); and Boaz Tal’s Three Generations at My Parents’ House (1991, gelatin silver print).

Julie Reiter, Marketing and Production Coordinator, the Jewish Museum

Portraying Mother, Identifying Self was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Sitting Down for Seder Read More

Seder Plate, Kerry Feldman, 1988. Glass. The Jewish Museum, New York. Judaica Acquisitions Fund. 1989–33

On the evening of Monday, April 10, Jewish families around the world will gather together to tell the story of Passover, celebrating the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt and their subsequent Exodus. While Passover will last until dusk on Tuesday, April 18, the holiday is traditionally commemorated with a seder on the first and second evenings. The seder is an opportunity for family and friends to gather together to eat, drink and retell the story of the Israelites, incorporating foods, prayers, and even special dishes used only once a year.

Seder Plate, LQR, c. 1900. Ceramic: glazed. The Jewish Museum, New York. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. A. B. Doran. 1984–49

The centerpiece of the table is the seder plate, which holds six symbolic food items. While any plate can be considered a seder plate, most people use a special one, divided into six parts. The Jewish Museum’s Scenes from the Collection, opening this fall, will include many examples of seder plates, spanning more than four millennia of Jewish history. Some are richly ornamented, such as this blue-and-white porcelain plate, inspired by Chinese designs. Others are very simple, such as Kerry Feldman’s pictograph seder plate.

Matzah Plate, Moshe Zabari, Tray for the Fourth Matzah, 1986. Silver: hand-worked; Lucite. The Jewish Museum, New York. Gift of the children and grandchildren of Charlotte Yudell M.D. in honor of her seventy-fifth birthday. 1986–94a-b

The seder table also includes three pieces of matzah, an unleavened bread eaten during Passover to symbolize the haste with which the Israelites fled from Egypt before their bread had time to finish rising. The three pieces of matzah represent three groups of Israelites: the priests, the Levites (attendants in the temple), and the other Israelites themselves. In the 1970s, a fourth piece of matzah was added to honor those Jews persecuted for their religious beliefs. Moshe Zabari’s Tray for the Fourth Matzah, decorated with the Hebrew words spoken by Moses to Pharaoh — “let my people go” — is designed specifically for this fourth piece of matzah.

At the beginning of the Passover seder, the middle piece of matzah is broken in half. One piece, known as the afikomen, is hidden for the children to find after the dinner is finished. Everyone who finds a piece of the afikomen is rewarded with a small gift.

Neil Goldberg, Untitled (hinged matzahs), 1992. Matzahs and mixed media. The Jewish Museum, New York: Purchase: Fine Arts Acquisitions Committee Fund. 1996–12

At the beginning of the Passover seder, the middle piece of matzah is broken in half and pieces are hidden for the children to find after the dinner is finished, known as the afikoman. Everyone who finds a piece of the afikomen is rewarded with a small gift.

Nicole Eisenman, Seder, 2010, oil on canvas, 39 1⁄16 × 48 in. 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.

Passover is intended to honor and preserve the story of the Exodus, passing the traditions and narratives of the holiday from one generation to the next through the Four Questions, asked by the youngest person at the seder, and the reading of the Haggadah, which contains the rituals, prayers, songs and stories of Passover. For Haggadot, matzah covers, and other items to help celebrate this holiday, the Jewish Museum Shop’s collection of Passover products are currently on sale, including a replica of Nicole Eisenman’s terracotta seder plate, produced for the Museum’s 2015 Masterpieces & Curiosities exhibition.

The Jewish Museum will observe Passover with adjusted hours on April 10, 11, 12, 16, 17 and 18. Families can join us for our Freedom Art Jam Art & Dance Passover Dance Party on Sunday, April 9, as well as Passover Week puppet-making workshops inspired by Charlemagne Palestine’s Bear Mitzvah in Meshugahland on April 13, 14 and 16. To learn more about Passover, explore works in our online collection and Educator Resources on the Jewish holidays.

— Sarah Roth, Curatorial Intern, The Jewish Museum

Sitting Down for Seder was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


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