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The Jewish Museum
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The Jewish Museum
1109 5th Ave at 92nd St
New York, NY 10128
212.423.3200

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Upcoming Events

Sun, Feb 18

Sunday, February 18, 2018

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1 PM

Global Inspirations
Vacation Week Art Workshop

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Mon, Feb 19

Monday, February 19, 2018

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1 PM

Global Inspirations
Vacation Week Art Workshop

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Mon, Feb 19

Monday, February 19, 2018

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3 PM

Archaeology Mondays

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Tue, Feb 20

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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1 PM

Global Inspirations
Vacation Week Art Workshop

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Tue, Feb 20

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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4 PM

Art Explorers
Family Tour & Art Workshop Series for Preschoolers

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Wed, Feb 21

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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10:30 AM

JM Journeys
For Visitors with Early-Stage Dementia

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Wed, Feb 21

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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2 PM

JM Journeys
For Visitors with Memory Loss

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Thu, Feb 22

Thursday, February 22, 2018

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1 PM

Global Inspirations
Vacation Week Art Workshop

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Thu, Feb 22

Thursday, February 22, 2018

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7:30 PM

Concert
Iva Bittová presented by Bang on a Can

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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

Veiled Meanings: An Artist’s Response Read More

The Jewish Museum invited artist Michael Gac Levin to respond to our current exhibition through a series of drawings.

Installation view of the exhibition Veiled Meanings: Fashioning Jewish Dress, from the Collection of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. November 3, 2017 — March 18, 2018. Photo by: Jason Mandella

The Jewish Museum’s current exhibition, Veiled Meanings: Fashioning Jewish Dress, from the Collection of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, showcases more than 100 articles of clothing that attest to the diversity of Jewish communities around the world, from eighteenth to twentieth centuries.

To further explore how these clothes are seen, worn, and interpreted today, the Jewish Museum invited Brooklyn-based artist Michael Gac Levin to respond to the exhibition through a series of drawings.

Jews of Today by Michael Gac Levin

Born in Los Angeles in 1984, Michael Gac Levin became fascinated with the Hasidic enclaves of Brooklyn while living in Williamsburg as an art student. His interest soon narrowed to the Hasidic dress code, particularly that of Hasidic men. In 2013 he published Jews of Today, a book that explores and attempts to explain Hasidic menswear through drawing. His fantastical illustrations had us wondering what Levin might make of, just for example, the Rebbe’s Sabbath Coat, with its sumptuous pattern of peacock feathers, currently on view (pictured below).

Hasidic Rebbe’s Sabbath Coat. Jerusalem, 21st century. Silk, synthetic thread, and appliqué synthetic velvet bands; compound weave belt. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Gift of Josef Grunwald, Ashdod, B09.1523, B09.1540. Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem by Mauro Magliani

Gac Levin’s practice, largely rooted in drawing, has touched on multiple subjects, many of them personal: his assimilated Jewish-American upbringing, his memories of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, and the fraught relationship between the collective unconscious and the Netflix algorithm. For Gac Levin, drawing is a way to learn through intuition and imagination. In his drawings, he seeks to imbue images and objects that we might take for granted with a sense of possibility, and to disclose the personal, subjective nature of knowing.

The series below offers an interpretation of the clothing in Veiled Meanings that wavers between historical and poetic, outward- and inward-looking.

We hope you enjoy these drawings as much as we do.

Veiled Meanings: Fashioning Jewish Dress, from the Collection of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem is on view at the Jewish Museum through March 18.


Veiled Meanings: An Artist’s Response was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Black History Month: A Single Figure That Could... Read More

For the month of February, we invited writer Antwaun Sargent to explore works of art in the Jewish Museum collection that celebrate the intersection of black and Jewish experience. The series continues with artist Kehinde Wiley’s Alios Itzhak (The World Stage: Israel) on view now in Scenes from the Collection.

Installation view of Scenes from the Collection. The Jewish Museum, New York. Photo by: Jason Mandella

Since the early 2000s, the celebrated African-American portraitist Kehinde Wiley has created large-scale paintings, mostly of men of color, that have inserted their faces and stories into the frame of history. He has reimagined everyday people of color as princes, queens, and commanders. This week, he will have the distinct honor of entering into the annals of history a painting of America’s first black President, when the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery unveils Wiley’s official portrait of former President Barack Obama.

Mizrah, Israel Dov Rosenbaum, Podkamen, Ukraine, 1877 (date of inscription). Paint, ink, and graphite on cut-out paper. 30 1/2 × 21 in. (77.5 × 53.3 cm). Gift of Helen W. Finkel in memory of Israel Dov Rosenbaum, Bessie Rosenbaum Finkel, and Sidney Finkel. 1987–136

In 2011, Wiley, who scouts his sitters on the streets, presented a series of nineteen portraits of young Israeli men in Kehinde Wiley / The World Stage: Israel, an exhibition at the Jewish Museum. One of those images, Alios Itzhak (The World Stage: Israel), which later entered the Jewish Museum collection, is currently on view in the exhibition Scenes from the Collection. Alios Itzhak is a portrait of a young Ethiopian Israeli Jewish man that recalls the art of Renaissance and Old Master painters such as Jacques-Louis David and Peter Paul Rubens, or the more recent history of pop-portraiture that includes the late artist Barkley L. Hendricks. Itzhak takes up the center of the painting, wearing a purple t-shirt and blue jeans with his hand on his hip. He stands before a backdrop inspired by a vibrant nineteenth-century Ukrainian papercut, a Jewish ceremonial object that Wiley found in the collection, and mounted next to his painting in Scenes from the Collection.

Kehinde Wiley, Alios Itzhak (The World Stage: Israel), 2011. Oil and enamel on canvas. 115 × 80 × 1/8 in. (292.1 × 203.2 × 0.4 cm). The Jewish Museum, New York. Purchase: Gift of Lisa and Steven Tananbaum Family Foundation; Gift in honor of Joan Rosenbaum, Director of the Jewish Museum from 1981–2011, by the Contemporary Judaica, Fine Arts, Photography, and Traditional Judaica Acquisitions Committee Funds. 2011–31 © Kehinde Wiley

What is most powerful about this work is Itzhak’s gaze. He peers directly out into the world, posing and taking up space as a confident vision of himself. He wants to be added to the canon of visual culture. His posturing recalls, perhaps, the classic positioning of black men of other eras who have not been represented. Where they noblemen? Generals? Captains of bygone industry? Or simply men who towered quietly in the lives of their communities? Itzhak is a single figure that could easily be ten thousand.

The power that lies in Alios Itzhak (The World Stage: Israel), for me, is that the painting puts a name on a face that belongs to a people who have made their own history. In Wiley historicizing Itzhak’s likeness, there is the promise that he along with the black Israeli Jewish community in which he belongs, will be long remembered; his community’s differences, which have left them largely invisible in both Jewish and Black identity, and spirituality, will be honored and recorded for what they are.

It also allows for the possibility that, in seeing Itzhak’s image hung in the Museum, we might want to know more about the lives of people of color like Itzhak. Wiley’s gesture of recording his face for us honors the idea that all should be included in the recounting of human history. It also contests the many official accounts that shut out men like Itzhak and their communities. It makes me wonder: is that really history at all? Wiley once likened painting to the recording of history by saying:

“Painting is about the world that we live in. Black men live in the world. My choice is to include them. This is my way of saying yes to us.”

— Antwaun Sargent, Guest Contributor

See Kehinde Wiley’s Alios Itzhak (The World Stage: Israel) on view now in Scenes from the Collection at the Jewish Museum. Explore more works in the Jewish Museum collection in honor of Black History Month online.


Black History Month: A Single Figure That Could Easily Be Ten Thousand was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Movies That Matter: “It’s Not Going to... Read More

Teens Celebrate Diversity and Inclusion at the Jewish Museum’s Free Film Series for Middle and High School Students

KIKI cast member Chi Chi Mizrahi and filmmaker Sara Jordeno speak to New York City middle and high school students at Movies That Matter at the Jewish Museum

For nearly twenty years, the Jewish Museum’s free film screening series for middle and high school students, Movies That Matter, has served more than 2,000 students and teachers each year who view acclaimed documentaries that explore identity and culture, bridging communities and building respect and empathy. Conversations with filmmakers and subjects deepen the experience.

At the most recent season of Movies that Matter, an audience of teens erupted in cheers following a screening of the award-winning documentary film KIKI. Made in 2016, the film chronicles the artistic activist subculture of LGBTQ youth of color in New York City’s ballroom scene, while the seven main characters of the Kiki community support one another through the significant challenges they face in daily life: homelessness, illness, and prejudice.

The documentary Paris Is Burning made Ballroom—the performance-based dance movement—famous in the early 1990s, which celebrated its 25th anniversary at a screening with director Jennie Livingston at the 2015 New York Jewish Film Festival organized by the Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. A generation after Livingston’s iconic film, KIKI tells an updated story about a New York City scene run by youth for youth, punctuated by balls or elaborate vogueing performances, as a celebration of identity and creative freedom.

Film still from KIKI

Chi Chi Mizrahi, a cast member of the film (born Francisco Gonzalez Jr. and raised in a predominately Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn), and filmmaker Sara Jordenö led an engaging and encouraging discussion with students after the film screening at the Jewish Museum. “This moment in America is a reality check. It’s a set back,” said Chi Chi. The teens were silent as he continued, “I also want to remind you that the most powerful movements were led by younger generations. People like you have the power to create major change in your environment, whether it’s in your school, the state, or across the nation.”

The following conversation captures questions posed by students at the Movies That Matter screening of KIKI at at the Jewish Museum along with responses from Jordenö and Mizrahi:

How long did it take you to make the film?

SARA JORDENÖ: Over 4 years. We wanted it to take as long as necessary — it took a very long time for me to get to know everyone and build relationships as an outsider to this group. I was invited to make the film after gaining everyone’s trust, and that’s very important. People may know about ballroom, as these amazing performances or an art form, but it is also a support system where youth mentor youth. Those relationships, which I would call activism, is what I really wanted to capture in the film.

Film still from KIKI

How did you make everyone feel comfortable to open up?

CHI CHI MIZRAHI: When we met Sara we sat her down for a few months, and we educated her. We built trust and decided to move forward with the project as long as there was a shared responsibility, and an assurance that we would have some control over what the film said about us. Sara made us feel comfortable and respected. It was never an infiltration of our space, but a respectful representation of our group. We told her, “it’s not going to be about us, without us.”

SARA JORDENÖ: Filmmaking is about listening. I was there to listen and try to portray it as intimately as possible. It would be wrong to make something from a distance about this group. I was really impressed by their activism, the mentorship, and how they were literally saving each other’s lives. Every week I saw someone lifting another person up who was about to commit suicide, or who got beat up, or bullied. I’ve been an activist for many years but I’ve never seen such smart effective activism as I did in these kids ever before. I didn’t want to minimize that and make a film from a grown-up perspective.

I have a friend in the LGBTQ community whose parents are cruel. What advice would you give to teens who want to help their friends who are struggling with their sexual identity?

CHI CHI MIZRAHI: There is no right or wrong answer. Our challenges are all different as queer people in a world made for hetero people. But as a friend, just be supportive and understanding. It allows them to have an outlet and for them to connect with you.

SARA JORDENÖ: We can’t trust the world to accept us. We need to find each other. I think that’s the only way. The only way is to build those networks and keep them strong. The whole crew and everyone in the film was LGBTQ and/or female, and that’s rare in the film world. We were a whole minority production.

Still from KIKI with Chi Chi Mizrahi and Twiggy Pucci Garcon

What challenges do you face today?

CHI CHI MIZRAHI: For people who identify as LGBTQ, it’s not a choice, I want to make that clear. They don’t wake up one morning and say, “Hey, I want to be a gay male! I want to be flamboyant and challenge the world and be everything that the world hates and puts down.” I think the film helps young people realize what they’re going to be facing if they are LGBTQ or POC and if you’re not, then maybe it helps you understand what we’re going through. We all face big issues like homelessness, unemployment, substance abuse, mental health issues, gender identity disorder, and living in this world that doesn’t accept who you are. There are things we as a community have to pay attention to that others don’t. We’re living an abnormal life. And that is challenging.

What are your goals for the film and for the future?

CHI CHI MIZRAHI: To bring to light what we go through from our own perspective. When was the last time you watched a movie or something on TV that spoke from the perspective of a gay male, or a lesbian woman, or a transgender perspective, that people are able to relate to? They don’t ever tell that story. So it’s us using the film to speak about all the issues we go through, similar to issues in society at large. We want people to understand that we’re not perfect, nobody is. But how can we show the world, from the perspective of minority youth, what we go through? We have to tell our story.

SARA JORDENÖ: As you know, the power of the white, cis-gendered, upper-class male is starting to crack, finally. People of color and women are so underrepresented in film and the film industry. Only 4% of all film directors are female. I would like to see someone younger than me, someone of color, someone with real experience growing up in the Kiki scene, make a film from that perspective. Lastly I will say this: you all live in a city where there are a lot of balls going on every month. It’s a major part of the cultural fabric of New York City that is extremely unappreciated because it’s made by young people of color. Go to a ball.

https://medium.com/media/4856590118766826e3e35175f480983b/href

Watch the trailer for KIKI and learn more about Movies that Matter at TheJewishMuseum.org. The 2018 spring season occurs on April 16, 17, 19, and 20. To register, email teenprograms@thejm.org or call 212.423.3254.


Movies That Matter: “It’s Not Going to be About Us, Without Us.” 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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