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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
212.423.3200

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Jewish Museum Members and visitors can park at Impark and Champion Parking. Read More

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Upcoming Events

Sun, Oct 22

Sunday, October 22, 2017

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10 AM

Picture This!
Gallery Tour, Art Workshop & Concert

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Sun, Oct 22

Sunday, October 22, 2017

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11:30 AM

Lisa Loeb
Family Concert

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Sun, Oct 22

Sunday, October 22, 2017

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12:30 PM

Studio Art Sessions
Imaginative Mask

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Sun, Oct 22

Sunday, October 22, 2017

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2 PM

Lisa Loeb
Family Concert

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Wed, Oct 25

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

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2 PM

Adult Studio Workshop
Tracing Modigliani

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Thu, Oct 26

Thursday, October 26, 2017

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6:30 PM

Lecture
Mason Klein: Modigliani Unmasked

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Fri, Oct 27

Friday, October 27, 2017

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8 AM

AM at the JM
Brian Belott

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Fri, Oct 27

Friday, October 27, 2017

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2 PM

Gallery Talk
Modigliani’s Jewishness

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Sun, Oct 29

Sunday, October 29, 2017

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10:30 AM

Access Family Workshop
For Visitors with Learning or Developmental Disabilities

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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

History

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. Located along New York's Museum Mile, this elegant former residence has been the home of the Museum since 1947. Learn More

Stories

Miss Liberty and the Swinging Pendulum of Immigration... Read More

Artist Mae Rockland Tupa’s sculpture is, on one level, a celebration of America’s role in welcoming immigrants and refugees. Yet, from any given angle, half of the statues turn their backs to us.

Hanukkah Lamp, Mae Rockland Tupa, Miss Liberty, 1974. Gift of the artist. The Jewish Museum, New York.

If you came across Mae Rockland Tupa’s Miss Liberty while it was last on view at the Jewish Museum, you could be forgiven for not realizing that it was created as a Hanukkah Lamp. Covered with the stars and stripes, composed of no fewer than eight Statues of Liberty, and stenciled with excerpts of the famous poem inscribed on the statue’s base, Tupa’s lamp practically chants “U-S-A.” On second glance, however, there is more to this object than what is visible on the surface.

On one level, Miss Liberty is a functional object. Each year, in late November or December, Jews around the world celebrate Hanukkah to commemorate a miracle. In 165 BCE, Jews rebelled against the ruling Hellenistic dynasty then ruling the land of Israel, who forbade them to practice their faith. When they reclaimed the Temple in Jerusalem, they found just enough oil to relight the menorah (a large ceremonial candelabra) for one day, but the oil kept burning for eight days, until more could be procured. During Hanukkah, Jews light one candle each night for eight days using a ninth candle called the shamash.

While Hanukkah lamps share the same basic structure, they come in all shapes and styles. What makes Miss Liberty stand out is that it is made from cheap, mass-produced materials: birthday-candle holders, plastic statues, and dime-store flags. Inspired by a deeply personal memory, the artist transformed a functional object into a sculpture that comments on consumerism, identity, and immigration.

Mae Rockland Tupa. Photograph by Richard Speedy via Jewish Women’s Archive

As a child, Tupa performed in a Hanukkah celebration at a Yiddish school in the Bronx. She recalled:

Eight of us, draped in sheets, wearing paper crowns, holding books in our left hands and candles in our right, were lined up across the stage. A ninth child (the shamash) lit our candles one at a time. As she did so we raised our candles in the air and recited a line from Emma Lazarus’s poem ‘The New Colossus’… The parents wept, and we were proud because that poem was us. Our parents had immigrated to the Land of the Free, the Goldene Medina. We were the wretched refuse and we were breathing free. It was a great feeling.

Tupa’s parents were Polish and Lithuanian immigrants, part of a wave of nearly 2 million Jews fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe, who arrived in the US between 1880 and 1924. After 1892, most of these immigrants were processed at Ellis Island, sailing past the Statue of Liberty along the way. The statue was a gift from the French to commemorate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence. To help raise funds for the monument, Jewish-American poet Emma Lazarus wrote “The New Colossus.” Her verses were eventually inscribed on the monument’s base, the famous final lines reading:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

In 1903, the monument’s official stewards inscribed the poem on its base precisely because Lazarus’ words conveyed the sculpture’s meaning and captured its spirit. The sculpture was named Liberty Enlightening the World. In the context of a centenary of the Declaration of Independence, “Liberty” referred to the freedom from persecution sought by so many of the pilgrims who immigrated from England to North America in the seventeenth century. Just as Tupa recited Lazarus’ poem as a child, she stenciled excerpts onto Miss Liberty. Both her childhood memory and the sculpture it inspired represent a fusion of traditions and symbols, a melding of American, Jewish, and immigrant identities.

Founding Father Thomas Paine described the United States as “the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe.” From its origins, this country has been a nation of immigrants. Between 1880 and 1930, over 27 million people arrived in the US, including 4.5 million Irish, 5 million Germans, 4 million Italians, and hundreds of thousands of East Asian immigrants. Each wave of immigration was met with resistance — from the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act to the tens of thousands of sick and disabled immigrants turned away at Ellis Island. The 1924 Immigration Act established a quota system designed to prioritize immigration from Western Europe, restricting the arrival of Jewish refugees fleeing Eastern Europe.

When Tupa created Miss Liberty in 1974, America’s doors were once again open. In the 1940s and 50s, the U.S. had welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the Soviet Union and Cuba. In 1965, Congress had passed the Immigration and Nationality Act, which abolished quotas based on nationality and allowed Americans to sponsor relatives. In the decades since, many of the country’s immigrants have arrived from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. Like so many of the immigrants before them, they came in search of safety, economic opportunity, religious freedom, or political freedom. Like so many of the immigrants before them, they have contributed vastly to the economic development and cultural richness of this country.

Tupa’s sculpture is, on one level, a celebration of America’s role in welcoming immigrants and refugees. Yet, from any given angle, half of the statues turn their backs to us. The artist observed:

There have been times when Miss Liberty looked away and America closed its doors to the persecuted… as when the steamship St. Louis was denied haven in Miami and nine hundred Jews were sent back to Nazi Germany.

As the keepers of shared cultural heritage, museums offer spaces to reexamine the past as we tackle contemporary challenges. We welcome teachers to explore the theme of immigration using objects from the Jewish Museum collection through immigration-themed school group tours, free online curriculum guides, and an upcoming educator workshop on Tuesday, November 7 exploring strategies for teaching the theme of immigration and the current refugee crisis in the classroom.

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We also invite teachers to incorporate Mae Rockland Tupa’s Miss Liberty into a classroom discussion of immigration past and present using the following questions and research ideas as points of departure for dialogue and debate:

  1. With your students, consider artist Mae Rockland Tupa’s quote, “There have been times when Miss liberty looked away and America closed its doors to the persecuted…” Tupa created Miss liberty in 1974, referencing the doomed voyage of the S.S. St. Louis that set sail in 1939 with more than 900 people fleeing Nazi Germany. Almost 80 years later, in 2017, the world is facing a global refugee crisis, with people fleeing Syria and other war-torn countries. Discuss Tupa’s quote in light of current events related to immigration focusing on the challenges faced by nations as a result of this crisis.
  2. Often, learning about a particular immigration story can illuminate the value of welcoming immigrants. Have students conduct their own research and find a compelling immigration story to share with the class. They may search online for articles on the subject or interview a family member.
  3. The symbolism of the statue of Liberty has recently been foregrounded in the news. Consider the different elements that make up the Statue: her torch, her crown, the poem by Emma Lazarus on her base. What does the Statue of Liberty symbolize to your students? To your school community? Discuss how the meaning of statues may change over time and how this impacts communities.

— Viktorya Vilk, Guest Contributor and former Jewish Museum Educator


Miss Liberty and the Swinging Pendulum of Immigration in America was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Now and Then: Preserving the Jewish Museum’s... Read More

Scaffolding on the facade of the Jewish Museum, New York, 2017

If you’ve visited the Jewish Museum recently, you’ve seen the scaffolding that currently surrounds our building.

Built in 1908 to be the family home of Felix and Frieda Warburg, the building was commissioned from architect Charles Pierrepont Henry Gilbert in his popular François I style — an ornate melding of French form and Italian ornamentation. The Museum’s Indiana limestone facade and intricate details are an homage to the French chateau, adapted for New York City. Several other local examples of C.P.H. Gilbert’s François I facades survive: the Isaac D. and Mary Fletcher House on 72nd Street (now the Ukrainian Institute), and the Joseph Raphael De Lamar House, at 37th and Madison (now the Polish Consulate General) bear the closest resemblance to the Jewish Museum.

Portraits of Felix M. Warburg and Frieda Schiff Warburg

Our building is an example of the grand homes that once adorned “millionaire’s row” on Fifth Avenue during the Gilded Age. Next to the extravagant mansions of Andrew Carnegie (now the Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum) and William K. Vanderbilt (whose triple palace once occupied an entire city block), the Warburg home was relatively modest by comparison. Still, family members reputedly cautioned Felix and Frieda that the building’s lavish appearance might provoke anti-Semitism. In addition to raising five children here, the Warburgs also made their home the center of activities of vital importance to them: philanthropy, the collection and care of art, and the stewardship of Jewish culture. As a fitting embodiment of these concerns, the family later donated the building to the Jewish Theological Seminary for use as a museum. Its doors opened to the public as the Jewish Museum in 1947.

The Jewish Museum — the Vera and Albert List Building (left) and the Warburg mansion (right) — c. 1967. The List Building was built in 1963 and was enlarged and reconfigured when the Museum was expanded in 1993.

Since then, the Jewish Museum has undergone a series of building projects, including two expansions: one in 1963, and a second in 1993, that doubled its gallery space. The Museum plays a proactive role in the care and preservation of its home; every few years, the facade is thoroughly examined to ensure that the landmark building is in good condition.

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Thanks to grants from American Express, New York State Assembly, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Thompson Family Foundation, and the Starr Foundation, the latest round of restoration is now underway to protect Charles. P.H. Gilbert’s original design details of the building’s landmark limestone facade. The project resonated in particular with American Express, which has a long-standing commitment to historic preservation.

Here and there you can still see reflections of the building’s former life as the home of a prominent American Jewish family at the turn of the last century. The most apparent are those on the first and second floors of the Museum.

THEN (left): Entrance hall of the Warburg mansion, as it was originally furnished. NOW (right): the entrance as it appears today as the Jewish Museum’s Skirball Lobby; installation view from the exhibition Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings: Valeska Soares, November 6, 2015-April 25, 2016. Photo by: David Heald.

Board meetings for the Warburgs’ various charitable involvements were held on the first floor, in an adorned room to the left of the main entrance that contained Felix Warburg’s collection of prints and etchings, which were later donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The ornate ceiling can still be seen in what is now the Jewish Museum Shop.

THEN (left): Print room of the Warburg mansion, showing the rotating pedestals for displaying works on paper. NOW (right): The Jewish Museum Shop.

Family concerts were held on the second floor, in the Music Room, where musician friends played the grand piano, pipe organ, and a quartet of Stradivarius instruments. Now called the Joseph & Fanya Heller Gallery, the room’s original beamed ceiling is still visible.

THEN (left): The conservatory of the Warburg Mansion (left) is now the Robert J. Hurst Family Gallery. NOW (right): Exhibition gallery, as seen in an installation view from the exhibition Take Me (I’m Yours), September 16, 2016 — February 5, 2017. The Jewish Museum, NY. Photo by: David Heald.

The second floor also included a conservatory, now the Robert J. Hurst Family Gallery, and a formal dining room, now the Rita & Stanley H. Kaplan Gallery.

The third floor — where the Museum’s new exhibition Scenes from the Collection will soon be on view — was less formal and included Felix and Frieda’s quarters and a breakfast room where the family ate together. There was also a sitting room with couches, family portraits, and a reservoir view.

THEN (left): Second-floor parlor of the Warburg mansion. NOW (right): Installation view of the exhibition Modigliani Unmasked. September 15, 2017 — February 4, 2018. The Jewish Museum, NY. Photo by: Jason Mandella

The fourth floor, now home to our children’s exhibition and art studios, was where the Warburg children — Edward, Carola, Frederic, Gerald, and Paul Felix — slept, studied, and played.

THEN (left): Staircase of the Warburg mansion. NOW (right): The original stained-glass windows now adorn Scheuer Auditorium.

The fifth and sixth floors, now office space for the Museum staff, once housed servants’ quarters and laundry, along with one of the home’s most surprising features: a squash court, where members of the family exercised every morning.

The Museum is grateful to be able to continue preserving the legacy of this impressive building and to safeguard its future use for our dynamic exhibitions and events.

To learn more about the history of the Jewish Museum, visit TheJewishMuseum.org/About. Follow #WarburgWednesday for a behind the scenes look at the Jewish Museum’s Warburg Mansion on Instagram.

— Yael Miller, Associate Director of Marketing, The Jewish Museum


Now and Then: Preserving the Jewish Museum’s Landmark Warburg Mansion was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in the Jewish Museum... Read More

Installation view of the exhibition “Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings: Vivian Suter.” May 05 — October 22, 2017. The Jewish Museum, NY. Photo by: Will Ragozzino.

Through October 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the rich cultural contributions of Latin Americans and the anniversary of the independence of five Hispanic countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an art museum that reflects the global Jewish experience across 4,000 years, the Jewish Museum is dedicated to representing the diversity of Jewish culture that transcends the boundaries of a single definition of identity. To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at the Jewish Museum, we mined the collection for works of art that tell the story of how the Jewish and Latin American experience intersect.

On view now in the Jewish Museum lobby through October 22, artist Vivian Suter’s paintings contrast starkly with the ornate architectural details of the Museum’s Warburg mansion. Although not part of the collection, the work is the latest among an ongoing series that commissions new art from artists around the globe. Born in 1949 in Buenos Aires after her family fled Austria at the start of World War II, Suter has lived throughout Latin America, Africa, and Europe. In 1983, she decided to settle in the village of Panajachel, Guatemala, in spite of the country’s civil war that lasted until 1996.

Vivian Suter’s studio in Panajachel, Guatemala

Based on a former coffee plantation, her studio is a space that closely connects her practice to the unpredictability of her surrounding environment: the natural processes of weather, plants, and animals freely impact her paintings as rain, mud, leaves, and fruits leave their mark as they hang in the open air on drying racks. Her works also take in the destruction of nature: in 2005 and 2010, hurricanes flooded Suter’s studio knee-deep, leaving waterlines on the works left hanging in the space.

Guillermo Kuitca, Argentinian, b. 1961. “Untitled”, 1993. Purchase: Melva Bucksbaum Contemporary Art Fund

The work of Jewish-Argentinian artist Guillermo Kuitca, the grandson of Russian immigrants who fled the pogroms of the early twentieth century, addresses memory, history, and migration from a Jewish and Latin American perspective. In this untitled painting from 1993, a glowing Hanukkah lamp and a Christian cross are tensely juxtaposed to illustrate a highly charged scene of angst, loneliness, and loss that personify Kuitca’s position as an artist of Jewish background in overwhelmingly Catholic Argentina. The painting alludes to the period known as the Dirty War in Argentina, a decade of state-sponsored terrorism in the mid 1970s and 80s in which dissidents and opponents of the military dictatorship “disappeared” — with Jews figuring disproportionately among them.

Hanukkah Lamp, Inndustria, Cuzco, Peru, first half 20th century. Gift of Dr. Harry G. Friedman.

Around the world, Jewish ritual objects have been uniquely adapted to reflect the cultures that made them, including this Hanukkah lamp from Peru. Although the history of the lamp is unknown, it is a close imitation of a Polish lamp, based on the multistory structure. The availability of silver in a number of Latin American countries led to the commissioning of Jewish ceremonial art for American consumption, and therefore it is possible that this Hanukkah lamp may have been intended for export. However, there were also Jewish communities in Peru beginning in the late sixteenth century, so it is also possible that this lamp was made for local use. The first settlers in Peru consisted of conversos, Sephardi Jews who were forced to convert but secretly followed Jewish tradition. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, waves of immigration came from central Europe, North Africa, the Ottoman Empire, and finally Germany and Eastern Europe, the last of Jews fleeing the Nazis who found refuge in the Americas.

Dawoud Bey, “Jacob,” 2005 and “Claire,” 2004. Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund.

The diversity of Jewish culture in America today is expressed in a pair of portraits from the Museum’s collection by American photographer Dawoud Bey. Latin Americans and Jews arrived to the United States as immigrants and refugees, and both groups share a history of discrimination and assimilation as minority groups that stretches to the present day. Dawoud Bey is known for his striking portraits of marginalized identities informed by his own experience growing up in the predominantly black neighborhood of Jamaica, Queens. His photos of two mixed-race teens challenge expectations of what it means to be Jewish and Latino—Jacob and Claire are bold representations of the many faces of contemporary Judaism and a portrait of America, a nation of immigrants.

These works are just a few among the Jewish Museum’s collection of nearly 30,000 objects that reflect the impact of other cultures on the global Jewish experience as it transcends nationality. For Hispanic Heritage Month, we celebrate the free flow of people and ideas beyond borders.

– Victoria Reis, Digital Marketing Associate


Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in the Jewish Museum Collection 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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