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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

Thu, Jul 18

Thursday, July 18, 2019

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10 AM

Extended Gallery Hours for Members
Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything

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Fri, Jul 19

Friday, July 19, 2019

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10 AM

Extended Gallery Hours for Members
Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything

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Mon, Jul 22

Monday, July 22, 2019

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1 PM

Summer Art Mondays
Collaged Storybook

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Tue, Jul 23

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

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10 AM

Extended Gallery Hours for Members
Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything

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Thu, Jul 25

Thursday, July 25, 2019

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10 AM

Extended Gallery Hours for Members
Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything

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Fri, Jul 26

Friday, July 26, 2019

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10 AM

Extended Gallery Hours for Members
Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything

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Sun, Jul 28

Sunday, July 28, 2019

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10:30 AM

Access Family Workshops
Visitors with Learning or Developmental Disabilities

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Sun, Jul 28

Sunday, July 28, 2019

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1 PM

Adult Studio Workshop
Zen Approaches to Creative Mindfulness with Ink and Brush

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Sun, Jul 28

Sunday, July 28, 2019

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2 PM

Access Family Workshop
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.


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

Introducing Mobile Tours at the Jewish Museum Read More

A new way of exploring the Jewish Museum with artists Maira Kalman, Isaac Mizrahi, Arlene Shechet, Kehinde Wiley, and more.

https://medium.com/media/fd2fd92479314306404976c87aa0a4c4/href

The Jewish Museum has launched new audio tours that will illuminate works of art from the Museum’s collection, highlight a range of perspectives, and provide an engaging experience for visitors of all backgrounds. Tours feature the voices of contemporary artists Maira Kalman, Isaac Mizrahi, Arlene Shechet, and Kehinde Wiley; curators and rabbis discussing Jewish traditions and rituals through ceremonial objects; students talking about art; verbal descriptions for visitors who are blind or have low vision; and a podcast-style conversation between artists Ross Bleckner and Deborah Kass discussing their work in the context of Jewish identity and LGBTQ+ history.

Available on Tours.TheJewishMuseum.org, the new web app is accessible on any device, for both on-site and off-site use. The new tours include:

Artists’ Voices

A series of audio tours led by contemporary artists, performers, writers, and designers. In addition to speaking about their own work and process, artists select a number of works in the Jewish Museum collection that inspire them, including personal reflections and memories sparked by objects on view.

https://medium.com/media/30f6fc9715d0e2105bc216f910e3ef4f/href

Jewish Rituals

Discover Jewish traditions and rituals through ceremonial objects from the Museum’s collection. Led by Senior Curator Emerita Susan Braunstein, the tour features commentary from rabbis, artists, historians, and educators. On the tour, visitors will hear about Hanukkah lamps from eighth-generation Rabbi Irwin Kula; a discussion of Shofarot with Braunstein and Reform Rabbi Darcie Crystal; as well as Museum docent Rachel Ringler, who sings a Shabbat blessing in a stop focusing on spice containers.

https://medium.com/media/3ab67c38ca9b964e44506c4888d6673e/href

Kids and Families

Designed for kids aged 6 & up, families can listen to lively conversations with 5th and 6th grade students, surprising stories, and insightful reflections about art, artifacts, and Judaica in the Museum’s collection.

https://medium.com/media/d91ad80172fdbf2913209a33b51fa816/href

Verbal Description Tour

Designed for visitors who are blind or have low vision, this tour uses vivid descriptive language and encourages a close examination of images and forms, while also providing background information on the objects and on the artists who made them.

https://medium.com/media/d2a9d77d46097e72e23f9e86e918a256/href

The Jewish Museum developed the new Mobile Tour platform in collaboration with digital agency Code and Theory. Audio content was produced by Acoustiguide. The initiative was supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.


Introducing Mobile Tours at the Jewish Museum was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Deborah Kass and Ross Bleckner: Gay and Jewish, 50... Read More

On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising this June 28, 2019, revisit highlights from a recent conversation between Jewish Museum collection artists Deborah Kass and Ross Blecker

Eric Marcus, Deborah Kass, and Ross Bleckner at the Jewish Museum

On Thursday, May 7, 2019, the Jewish Museum welcomed collection artists Ross Bleckner and Deborah Kass in conversation with Eric Marcus, creator and host of the Making Gay History podcast and founder of the Stonewall 50 Consortium. Together the artists discussed their life and work in the context of LGBTQ+ history and Jewish identity. The audio excerpt and transcript below features highlights from the conversation.

https://medium.com/media/8f7f4fdb0d6402c991cb2f2d72d31d27/href
MARCUS: Hi, I’m Eric Marcus. I’m a writer, journalist, and I host of the Making Gay History Podcast. You’re about to hear excerpts from a conversation that I moderated between Deb Kass and Ross Bleckner, two pioneering artists with work in the Jewish Museum’s collection.
Our conversation was inspired by the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. Stonewall was a historic moment of rebellion against police oppression. It was also a key turning point that’s become a symbol of the energy, creativity, and urgency that came to characterize the LGBTQ civil rights movement in the decades that followed.
In my conversation with Deb and Ross, we’ll talk about queerness, we’ll talk about Jewishness, and you’ll also hear us struggle to tease out the complex threads of the identity tapestry that both artists have expressed through their art.
I hope that this conversation gives you an opportunity to think about the ways that LGBTQ identity can color — or is sometimes erased from — the stories we tell about art and artists.
I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation, and I think you will too.
MARCUS: Was there any sense of kinship because you are both Jewish and gay?
BLECKNER: No.
KASS: None.
MARCUS: And for you Deb, was there any sense of kinship with Ross?
KASS: I think I felt a kinship with Ross because we’re from Long Island.
BLECKNER: And that’s gay and Jewish.
KASS: And that’s pretty damn gay and Jewish.
BLECKNER: You don’t get more Jewish than that.
MARCUS: I grew up way west of there in Queens, so… Deb, what was your understanding of gay people as a teenager growing up on Long Island?
KASS: I really had none. I didn’t know anyone who was out, who was older.
BLECKNER: Yeah I did, actually. In that way I feel a little bit like an anomaly because — um — I never came out. But I never had to come out. I was never in. Never. I never got harassed. The only time anybody ever said anything — it was my mother had a yellow car that I drove to school a few days. That was pale yellow. And some guy said to me, “Only fairies would drive a yellow car.”
KASS: And you went … and … ?
BLECKNER: And so what? So uh … being Jewish … being Jewish, because of where I grew up, because of the history of my family, because of the Depression, my parents came from Brooklyn — you know, everybody here had the same story, I’m sure. How poor they were. All the brothers and sisters slept in the same room. You know, why you have to eat all your food. It’s … you know. The minute they — my grandparents left Poland and Russia because of pogroms. My father was very poor at the beginning, and was not in the end. The moment he made any money he moved out of Brooklyn. So you know, that was the trajectory of most Jewish people actually of my generation.
MARCUS: So in a way, it was more…
BLECKNER: Now they’re all running back to Brooklyn!
KASS: We are.
MARCUS: It was an economic identity, really. That we were all…
BLECKNER: It was something more than that, really. It was push, too. It was push. That’s why I always say there’s so many identities that go on in everybody all the time. That consciousness is a very kind of … multilayered set of variables.
MARCUS: So you’re an American artist, but you do Jewish stuff. So how does your Jewishness figure into your work?
BLECKNER: Everything that you are figures into your work in every possible way, at different times. You go back and forth, in terms of content and subject and feeling. You know, things that you push away, things that you did a few years ago, and when you look back now, you think, what was I thinking? Why would I have done that (piece of shit)? But sometimes, I feel that underneath the skin, a lot of things, there’s so much more in people’s work that speaks to repression than it does expression. You know, the things that they can’t express but somehow winds its way into their work through many choices, through anything. Anything!
MARCUS: I think of that painting that’s here at this museum. So for those who don’t know the painting, it’s a rainbow flag with a Jewish star —
BLECKNER: Underneath the surface. And it’s also the time I had worked a lot with the theme of commemoration and —
KASS: Right. I want to say something about your work at that time. Because it was really important. Ross’s work in the ’80s, in the late ’80s particularly in relationship to AIDS, was extraordinarily moving. At the height of the AIDS crisis, your work at Mary Boone, I remember one show — I have the chills. And I remember it being like going to the opera and seeing La Traviata. Like it was so moving. And that you had somehow brought the beauty of the — I don’t know — this combination of crisis and beauty and memory and emotion that was so profound. It was such a profound show.
BLECKNER Thank you.
KASS: You’re welcome.
BLECKNER: You know there are times, you know it kind of reminds me of something that Philip Guston said, that he was in his studio, trying to figure out how to adjust the painting. Should it be more red or more blue? And then he went out of the studio and he thought to himself, “What does it matter? With the world the way it is. It doesn’t. That’s not what’s important.” And I kind of flashed on that. You know, he said that a long time ago and I realized that there are times that life ruptures from what we believed or what we thought.
MARCUS: But it was in your work. You used it in your work.
BLECKNER: But yeah, but I realized… I was painting abstract paintings and I realized that was not sufficient at that moment. I wanted to get back to it. I love abstract painting but I have to — something has to pass through — is passing through me whether I like it or not. And like you said before, like being Jewish, being gay, then this crisis — those are the things that either rise to the top or fall to the bottom, depending on where on the spectrum emotionally you are.
MARCUS: But both of you, and one of the things that struck me about your AIDS work and a painting you have in the gallery here now is that you’ve both dealt with rupture points. That painting of the eyeglasses — you look at it and it’s an abstract work and then in this context, here at this museum, I realized that that wasn’t just a painting of any glasses.
KASS: That was actually the first Jewish painting I made.
MARCUS: How did you come to paint it?
KASS: As our friends were dying. And as Reagan and Bush were in power.
BLECKNER: (They didn’t care.)
KASS: And as abortion was being curtailed. And as women’s rights were being curtailed. And as ERA wasn’t passing. But at the same time, what really has become known as multiculturalism was starting to percolate in women’s studies programs. By far the most interesting reading I was doing was literary criticism. Black studies departments came out of critical race theory, and it was all bubbling up in the ’80s and AIDS was happening and there was all this AIDS activism.
BLECKNER: And queer studies departments.
KASS: You know, and it was all these people, like, rethinking history the way our generation — not yours but ours — learned it. So the cannon, you know, it was all about firing the cannon. The canon in art history, which was all male and all white. The canon in literary history, which was all male and all white. All of this was being dismantled through these lenses of race, through the lens of feminism, and then through the lens of queerness … all this started. So I was reading all this work, and went, you know there’s a couple things missing here. There’s one big thing missing here. There’s nothing in here talking about Jewishness. And it’s not that I had some big identity … I mean it’s how we grew up. It was who we were. It’s who everyone we knew was. It was a big gaping hole. Because one thing we did grow up with — on top of the depression, on top of the pogroms — was the aftermath of World War II. And me, I was born seven years after the liberation of Auschwitz. This is something I always knew. So the painting out there is my first attempt at it.
So that particular painting was … actually it’s exactly what Ross was talking about. How many things are you? You are many many things. So the big eye in the middle is from a manuscript, an illuminated manuscript. I made one up, but you know, it has gold leaf. And then the top left, I think it is, is the Lucy bodies. And when I grew up Charles Schulz was my first famous artist that I wanted to be and looked up to. And wrote to, and he wrote to me. So that was Lucy, because I identified with Lucy when I was eight and nine. And there was, on the right side, the
Jasper Johns, the critic sees. So the painting is called Subject Matters. And subjectivity, and who is the subject, was a big part of this conversation, as all of these, this theoretical stuff was being developed. So it’s about subjectivity. So it’s the Auschwitz eye glasses, the Jasper Johns eye glasses with the mouths, me saying “I,” “eyes,” “I” — stuff like that.
MARCUS: It’s arresting, and it’s a privilege to have you describe it to us.
KASS: Thank you. Identity is this thing that you’re born into. You don’t have a choice. You come out black, you come out Jewish, you come out straight, you come out gay. But that with which you identify as a child, and when you’re constructing what am I and who am I and what am I looking at — it’s a much more active thing than identity. It’s a verb. You identify with something. You are constructing your consciousness. You are constructing your idea of being and who you want to be from the world. And to me that’s a much more interesting proposition.
BLECKNER: I mean that’s really … you’re describing how consciousness works. You can … put things forward or push things down. Based on anything — your mood, the day, the year, your life.
KASS: Emotion.
BLECKNER: The news. You know there are so many factors that work into the spectrum of our consciousness. You know, she says she picked feminism. Well, I’m still trying to figure out what I’m choosing.
KASS: I can recommend feminism.

MARCUS: On that note…
BLECKNER: Will you give me a reading list, please?
KASS: Absolutely.
MARCUS: On that note, please join me in thanking Deb Kass and Ross Bleckner for joining us tonight.

Watch a video of the complete conversation online below:

https://medium.com/media/3797ea8aeeca8f3844fd54a7fe79f9c0/href

To learn more about Talks & Performances at the Jewish Museum, visit TheJewishMuseum.org. Explore more LGBTQ+ works in the Jewish Museum collection online at TheJewishMuseum.org/Collection.


Deborah Kass and Ross Bleckner: Gay and Jewish, 50 Years After Stonewall was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“Queer People Anywhere Are Responsible for Queer People E... Read More

Revisit writer and community organizer Adam Eli’s recent gallery talk featuring LGBTQ+ works in the Jewish Museum collection

Adam Eli with Kehinde Wiley’s Alios Itzhak (The World Stage: Israel), 2011

Two years ago, in honor of Pride Month, the Jewish Museum invited writer and community-organizer Adam Eli to contribute to a Medium series exploring LGBTQ+ works in the Jewish Museum collection. His thesis revolved around the shared space between his dual identities of being both Jewish and Queer; two non-mutually exclusive communities with profound histories of persecution and oppression. Empathy, Eli surmised, acts as the foundational bedrock of this shared space.

Eli is the founder of Voices 4, a nonviolent activist group committed to advancing global queer liberation, with a mission inspired by a line from the Talmud: “Kol yisrael arevim zeh baZeh (all of the people of Israel are responsible for each other).” And Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

As a blend of the two, he believes:

“Queer people anywhere are responsible for queer people everywhere.”

This year, again in celebration of Pride month, Eli returned to the Jewish Museum to lead a gallery talk on his favorite pieces in the collection that shed light on the notion of empathy. We sat down with him before the program to discuss some of these topics at Russ & Daughters at the Jewish Museum.

Do you want to start us off by speaking about your personal connection to the Jewish Museum?

Sometimes, being Queer and Jewish means you have to compromise. While growing up, I had to do that a lot — I had to compromise who I was in order to fit in. The Jewish Museum and Russ & Daughters were some of the few places where I felt like I could be completely Jewish and completely Queer without having to compromise on either of those identities.

You must obviously feel a lot of frustration when it comes to intolerance. Do you find that frustration to be productive when it comes to your activism?

I firmly believe that people want to participate. They want to show up for themselves and for their communities to unite against intolerance. I believe that as an activist, it’s my job to find accessible ways for people to fulfill this potential. So when it comes to my own frustrations, I do my absolute best to not even think about it.

Do you also try to harness those negative emotions to build something constructive? I find that for many people, the foundation for their activism is often built upon those negative emotions, to then take that to create something completely opposite.

I try to separate anger and sadness as much as I can because there is work to be done. I come from the history of Jews murdered by the Nazis, Queer people murdered by the Nazis, gay men who died from the AIDS crisis, and Jewish immigrants who came from nothing, like the Russ family. That is the history I am made of: being a Queer and Jewish man. But despite all that, we have to do what we have to do.

I’m curious as to whether your activism is largely influenced by history and earlier writers, or more by the present and by your contemporaries?

The answer is both. The best thing about being an activist is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There is always a mentor to go to, to seek advice from. Voices4 is inspired directly by the JDC (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee), the Soviet Jewry Movement, and Gays against Guns. It’s a distinct blend of all those. I studied the activism tools used by the Soviet Jewry Movement — which my mother was an active member of — and I’ve applied them to contemporary queer settings.

Kehinde Wiley, Alios Itzhak (The World Stage: Israel), 2011

One of the first stops on the tour was the painting Alios Itzhak by Kehinde Wiley. It portrays a young Ethiopian-Israeli Jewish man against a background inspired by a ceremonial papercut in the Jewish Museum collection. The papercut is a mizrah, a decorative plaque placed in a home or synagogue to indicate the direction of prayer towards Jerusalem. Standing in front of the portrait, Eli posed the question, “What is Queer art?”

“Some people have misconstrued ideas about the word ‘queer.’ But ‘queer’ just means ‘other’ or ‘different,’” Eli prefaced. “If there are three blue chairs and one pink chair, the pink chair would be queer. (It’s always the pink one.) Today you are getting a queer tour because you are getting my tour. This tour is personal to me. It’s about how I see my two identities of being gay and Jewish reflected within the collection.”

Guillermo Kuitca, Untitled, 1993

The group then moved onto a discussion of Guillermo Kuitca’s untitled painting, a haunting exploration of the artist’s Jewish experience in an overwhelmingly Catholic Argentina. The grandson of Russian immigrants who fled the pogroms of the early twentieth century, Kuitca’s work explores the “disappearance” of political dissidents in Argentina — among whom Jews figure disproportionately — and that of Jews and others in Europe during the Holocaust. Eli addressed the fact that Jewish and LGBTQ+ communities have often been the most vulnerable under brutal political regimes.

Nicole Eisenman, Seder, 2010

Nicole Eisenman’s Seder, meanwhile, became an invitation to meditate on how the Passover holiday’s narrative of freedom from oppression can extend into a conversation about Queer liberation. The painting depicts a group seated at a table for Passover. It is a common scene for many, but the subtle addition of an orange on the Seder plate alludes to the historic struggle of marginalized groups among the Jewish people, like women and the Queer community. This conversation is a familiar one to Eli.

Eli described himself as a child feeling his queerness–especially in a Jewish community–as his “cross to bear.” But now as an activist against anti-Semitism and homophobia, these two identities serve as a source of empowerment:

“My Jewish background enables me to be a part of something larger than myself and my queerness does the same.”

The gallery talk came to an inspiring conclusion, with Eli inviting members of the audience to share any moments that evoked a similar source of pride. One visitor quickly chimed in: “I feel it right now.”

— Jinny Choi, Visitor Experience Assistant

Learn more about Talks & Performances at the Jewish Museum at TheJewishMuseum.org/Calendar. To learn more about LGBTQ+ works in the Jewish Museum collection, visit TheJewishMuseum.org/Collection.


“Queer People Anywhere Are Responsible for Queer People Everywhere” 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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