Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director, The Jewish Museum
Our Mission: The Jewish Museum is an art museum committed to illuminating the complexity and vibrancy of Jewish culture for a global audience. Through distinctive exhibitions and programs that present the work of diverse artists and thinkers, we share ideas, provoke dialogue, and promote understanding.
The Jewish Museum was the first institution of its kind in the United States and is one of the oldest Jewish museums in the world. The Museum maintains a unique collection of nearly 30,000 works of art, ceremonial objects, and media reflecting the global Jewish experience over more than 4,000 years. Located on New York City's Museum Mile, in the landmarked Warburg mansion, the Jewish Museum is a welcoming home to an ever-changing and dynamic range of opportunities for exploring multiple facets of the global Jewish experience.
The Jewish Museum was founded in 1904 in the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary, where it was housed for more than four decades.
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.
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 and provided significant improvements in public amenities.
For more than a century, the Jewish Museum has illuminated art and Jewish culture from ancient times to the present, offering intellectually engaging and educational exhibitions and programs for people of all ages and backgrounds.
On January 20, 1904, Judge Mayer Sulzberger donates a collection of Jewish ceremonial art to the Jewish Theological Seminary of America as the core of a museum collection. The newly formed museum is the first institution of its kind in the United States and one of the first in the world.
Through the efforts of Seminary President Cyrus Adler and Felix M. Warburg, the Museum purchases the important collection of 400 Jewish ceremonial objects assembled in the 19th century by Turkish art dealer Hadji Ephraim Benguiat.
The collection is installed in the Seminary’s new Jacob H. Schiff Library as the Museum of Jewish Ceremonial Objects.
The imperiled Jewish community of Danzig (Gdansk, Poland) sends ritual objects from its synagogues and homes to New York City for safekeeping. Some 350 of these objects, entrusted to the Museum, are later incorporated into the collection.
Dr. Harry G. Friedman presents a major collection of ceremonial objects, paintings, sculptures, prints, and manuscripts to the Museum. His continuing donations, eventually numbering more than 600 works, include pieces from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
Frieda Schiff Warburg gives the Seminary her family residence at 1109 Fifth Avenue to house the Museum.
The Jewish Museum inaugurates its home in the former Warburg mansion. Curator Stephen Kayser declares that it’s the Museum’s mission to use the fine arts to explore the substance of Jewish life and history. He defines the Museum’s audience as “the American community,” which should “be given insight into the traditions, history, legends, and aspirations of the Jewish people.”
The Museum purchases the rare and important collection of Polish Judaica assembled by Benjamin and Rose Mintz.
One hundred and twenty ceremonial objects, looted by the Nazis and recovered by the United States Military Government, are presented to the Museum by Jewish Cultural Reconstruction.
Dr. Abraham Kanof and his wife, Dr. Frances Pascher, establish the Tobe Pascher Workshop for the creation of Jewish ceremonial art in a modern style.
To mark its 10th anniversary at 1109 Fifth Avenue, the Museum presents a path-breaking contemporary art exhibition, Artists of the New York School: Second Generation, featuring works by 23 emerging artists including Helen Frankenthaler, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and George Segal.
Alan Solomon becomes Director and confirms the Museum’s commitment to exhibiting the work of New York City’s most advanced artists.
A building expansion, underwritten by Vera and Albert A. List, opens, providing flexible modern galleries and an outdoor sculpture court.
The Museum organizes the Recent American Synagogue Architecture exhibition, including designs by Louis Kahn and Barnett Newman.
The Museum presents Jasper Johns’ first solo museum exhibition.
Sam Hunter becomes Director of the Jewish Museum.
Primary Structures, the landmark exhibition that defined the Minimalist movement; the first major exhibition of the paintings of Ad Reinhardt; and the exhibition Lower East Side: Portal to American Life are organized.
The exhibition Masada: Struggle for Freedom is presented.
Karl Katz becomes Director of the Jewish Museum.
Software, a pioneering exhibition about information technology and interactive art, is organized.
The Museum opens a permanent installation of archaeological artifacts.
Joy Ungerleider becomes Director.
The Museum negotiates the acquisition of nearly 600 ancient artifacts found in Israel, and expands its focus to encompass all of Jewish culture.
Jewish Experience in the Art of the 20th Century is presented.
The retrospective exhibition Jack Levine: Paintings, Drawings and Graphics is presented.
Jacques Lipchitz’s sculpture The Sacrifice is prominently installed.
Joan Rosenbaum becomes Director of the Jewish Museum.
The Museum’s archaeological holdings expand with the gift of Max and Betty Ratner’s antiquities collection.
The National Jewish Archive of Broadcasting, with a mission to collect, preserve, and exhibit television, cable television, and radio programs related to the Jewish experience, is founded at the Museum through support from the Charles H. Revson Foundation.
Kings and Citizens: The History of the Jews in Denmark, 1622 – 1983 is presented.
The Precious Legacy: Judaic Treasures from the Czechoslovak State Collections is presented.
The Museum honors Dorothy Rodgers for her role in inspiring the development of a permanent collection exhibition.
The plaster version of George Segal’s The Holocaust is acquired, becoming one of the Museum’s signature works.
Gardens and Ghettos: The Art of Jewish Life in Italy is organized.
The Dreyfus Affair: Art, Truth and Justice, an acclaimed exhibition integrating the visual arts and social history, is presented.
A renovation and expansion project, designed by architect Kevin Roche, begins.
In collaboration with the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Museum establishes the New York Jewish Film Festival.
Bridges and Boundaries: African Americans and American Jews is presented.
The Museum re-opens in expanded and renovated quarters. Inaugural presentations include From the Inside Out: Eight Contemporary Artists and the permanent exhibition, Culture and Continuity: The Jewish Journey.
The Museum initiates annual December 25 family programming.
The exhibitions Too Jewish?: Challenging Traditional Identities and Marc Chagall: 1907 – 1917 are presented.
An Expressionist in Paris: The Paintings of Chaim Soutine is organized.
The newly reinstalled Floor 4 galleries of the permanent collection exhibition, Culture and Continuity: The Jewish Journey open, accompanied by thematic audio guides.
Marc Chagall: Early Works from Russian Collections is presented.
The exhibitions New York: Capital of Photography and the widely discussed Mirroring Evil: Nazi Imagery/Recent Art are presented.
The exhibitions Entertaining America: Jews, Movies, and Broadcasting and Schoenberg, Kandinsky, and the Blue Rider are organized.
The newly reinstalled Floor 3 galleries of Culture and Continuity: The Jewish Journey open.
Centennial year celebrations are highlighted by the exhibition Modigliani: Beyond the Myth.
The exhibitions The Power of Conversation: Jewish Women and Their Salons, Wild Things: The Art of Maurice Sendak, and Sarah Bernhardt: The Art of High Drama are presented.
The Jewish Museum marks Joan Rosenbaum’s 25th anniversary as director.
The exhibitions Eva Hesse: Sculpture and Alex Katz Paints Ada are organized.
The Sculpture of Louise Nevelson: Constructing a Legend, the first major American survey of the artist’s work since 1980, is organized.
A new interactive children’s exhibition, Archaeology Zone: Discovering Treasures from Playgrounds to Palaces, opens.
Action/Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940 – 1976, the first major U. S. exhibition in 20 years to rethink Abstract Expressionism, is organized by the Jewish Museum in collaboration with the Albright-Knox Gallery and the Saint Louis Art Museum.
Alias Man Ray: The Art of Reinvention is presented.
Houdini: Art and Magic, the first major art museum exhibition to examine Houdini’s life, is organized.
Claudia Gould becomes Director of the Jewish Museum.
Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters: The Cone Sisters of Baltimore and The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936 – 1951 are presented.
The New York Jewish Film Festival marks its 20th anniversary.
The exhibitions Kehinde Wiley/The World Stage: Israel; Edouard Vuillard: A Painter and His Muses, 1890 – 1940; and Crossing Borders: Manuscripts from the Bodleian Libraries are presented.
The exhibitions As it were … So to speak: A Museum Collection in Dialogue with Barbara Bloom; Six Things: Sagmeister & Walsh; Jack Goldstein × 10,000; Art Spiegelman’s Co-Mix: A Retrospective; and Chagall: Love, War, and Exile are presented.
The exhibitions Other Primary Structures; Mel Bochner: Strong Language; From the Margins: Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, 1945 – 1952; and Helena Rubinstein: Beauty Is Power are presented.
The Jewish Museum launches new graphic identity and redesigned website with design firm Sagmeister & Walsh.
The exhibitions Repetition and Difference; Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television; and The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film are presented.
The New York Jewish Film Festival marks its 25th anniversary with record attendance.
Russ & Daughters at the Jewish Museum opens, a restaurant and take-out appetizing counter.
The exhibitions Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History; Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernist; and Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design are presented.
The Jewish Museum launches its inaugural Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund the exhibition Take Me (I'm Yours).
After nearly 25 years, the Museum's permanent collection exhibition Culture and Continuity: The Jewish Journey closes, makinng way for Scenes from the Collection.
The exhibitions Florinne Stettheimer:Painting Poetry and Modigliani Unmasked are presented.
The Jewish Museum opens Scenes from the Collection a dynamic new exhibition of the collection, transforming the entire third floor with nearly 600 works from antiquities to contemporary art.
For proposal information click here.
Robert A. Pruzan, Chairman
Stephen M. Scherr, President
Betty Levin, Vice Chair
Mahnaz Moinian, Vice Chair
Gail A. Binderman, Vice Chair
Sander Levy, Vice President
Malcom Levine, Treasurer
Harriet Schleifer, Secretary
Jane Wilf, Assistant Treasurer
Andrew E. Lewin, Assistant Secretary
Claudia Gould, Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director, ex officio
Nomi P. Ghez
Carol Schapiro Kekst
Gustave K. Lipman
David L. Resnick
David E. Shapiro
John M. Shapiro
Amy Rose Silverman
Barry J. Alperin**
E. Robert Goodkind*
Robert J. Hurst*
Dr. Henry Kaufman
Susan Lytle Lipton*
Morris W. Offit*
H. Axel Schupf*
John L. Vogelstein**
Shuly Rubin Schwartz
* Chairman Emeritus
** President Emeritus
The Museum and its staff are unable to authenticate or perform appraisals of works of art or artifacts for the public. We suggest that you consult a reputable art dealer, appraiser, or auction house. You may also wish to contact the Appraisers Association of America to get more information on certain types of appraisals.
A request for donations of admission passes may be submitted by email to Visitor Experience at email@example.com. Be sure to include the name of the organization and the date of your fundraiser.
The Jewish Museum’s collection has benefitted from the generosity of numerous donors over the years. The Museum collects Judaica (Jewish ceremonial objects), work by Jewish artists, and art that relates to Jewish subjects, themes, or experiences. (The Museum does not collect historical documents, artifacts from the Holocaust, or Jewish books or manuscripts).
If you are interested in offering an object or artwork to the Jewish Museum, and you believe the work is appropriate for our institution, please send the following information to firstname.lastname@example.org and include “Donation Inquiry” in the subject line:
Please note that only email submissions will be reviewed, and that email attachments must not exceed 20 MB total. Potential donations cannot be brought to the Museum or left in our custody, and we cannot review objects or artworks in person. Due to the volume of offers we receive, we are not be able to respond directly to every submission. If your proposal is of interest, a member of the curatorial department will contact you.
If you would like to introduce the Museum to your work, or the work of an artist you represent, please send the following materials to email@example.com and include “Artist Submission” in the subject line:
Please note that only email submissions will be reviewed, and that email attachments must not exceed 20 MB total. Original artworks cannot be brought to the Museum or left in our custody, and we cannot review materials or portfolios in person. The Jewish Museum values the work of artists from around the globe, but the volume of submissions often outnumbers staff capacity to review and respond to each individually. For that reason, the Museum treats the review process as informational only. Critiques or comments are not offered on submissions. A member of the curatorial department will get back to artists or their representatives if the work is of interest.
If you are a curator interested in proposing an exhibition for the Jewish Museum, please send the following materials to firstname.lastname@example.org and include “Exhibition Proposal” in the subject line:
Please note that only email submissions will be reviewed, and that email attachments must not exceed 20 MB total. Due to the volume of proposals we receive, we are not able to respond directly to every submission. If your proposal is of interest, a member of the curatorial department will contact you.
The cafe space at the Jewish Museum can accommodate 60 people for event rentals, and also features a beautiful private dining room that seats 20.Request this space
The Scheuer Auditorium is beautifully decorated using architectural details and stained glass windows from the original Warburg Mansion.
This elegant space can accommodate 160 guests for a seated dinner, 230 with auditorium-style seating and 250 for a cocktail reception.Request this space
The Skirball Lobby features period columns and a magnificent ceiling.
This inviting space is perfect for small receptions of 75 guests.Request this space