One of the world’s preeminent institutions devoted to exploring art and Jewish culture
The Jewish Museum, one of the world’s preeminent institutions devoted to exploring art and Jewish culture, from ancient to contemporary, was founded in 1904 in the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary, where it was housed for more than four decades. The Jewish Museum was the first institution of its kind in the United States and one of the oldest existing Jewish museums in the world.
Judge Mayer Sulzberger1 donated a collection of ceremonial art to the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary with the suggestion that a Jewish museum be formed. Subsequent gifts and purchases have helped to form the Museum’s distinguished collection, one of the largest and most important of its kind in the world.
In 1944, Frieda Schiff Warburg2, widow of the prominent businessman and philanthropist Felix Warburg3, who had been a Seminary trustee, donated the family mansion4 at 1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street to the Seminary for use as a museum. Located along New York City's Museum Mile, and designed in the French Gothic chateau-style by architect Charles P.H. Gilbert, the original building was completed in 1908, and has been the home of the Museum since 1947.
A sculpture court was installed alongside the Mansion in 1959, and the Albert A. List Building was added in 1963 to provide additional exhibition and program space. In 1990, a major expansion and renovation project was undertaken; upon completion in June 1993, the expansion doubled the Museum’s gallery space, created new space for educational programs, provided significant improvements in public amenities, and added a two-floor collection exhibition called Culture and Continuity: The Jewish Journey, which told the unfolding story of Jewish culture and identity through works of art.
Today, the Jewish Museum presents a diverse schedule of internationally acclaimed exhibitions while maintaining a collection of nearly 30,000 objects reflecting global Jewish identity – painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, installations, media, archaeological artifacts, antiquities, and ceremonial objects. Nearly 600 objects are on view now in the exhibition Scenes from the Collection.
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