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Monday, March 7, 2022

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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

The Jewish Museum Lends Two Hanukkah Lamps to the White House Read More

Hanukkah lamp by Kurt J. Matzdorf on display in the White House Office of the Vice President. Photo Courtesy the White House.

The Jewish Museum is thrilled to be lending two Hanukkah lamps from its collection to the White House Office of the Vice President for Hanukkah.

In Vice President Kamala Harris’s office is a lamp made by Kurt J. Matzdorf in New Paltz, New York, in 1963. In Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff’s office is a lamp from the late nineteenth century which came to the Jewish Museum from the Jewish community of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland) in 1939.

The Jewish Museum’s collection of Hanukkah lamps is the largest in the world at nearly 1,050 pieces and was amassed over the 117 years of the Museum’s existence. The Hanukkah lamps will remain at the White House for the duration of the holiday.

This is the third time the Jewish Museum has lent Hanukkah lamps from its collection to the White House; the first time was for a lighting ceremony in 2001 when President George W. Bush was in office, and again for a lighting ceremony in 2011 when President Barack Obama was in office. Scroll down to learn more about the two Hanukkah lamps currently on display at the White House.

Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff with Jewish Museum Curator of Judaica Abigail Rapoport. Photo courtesy the White House.

The Hanukkah lamp on display in Vice President Kamala Harris’s office (top photo) was created by world-renowned artist Kurt J. Matzdorf (1922–2008). Born in Stadtoldendorf, Germany, Matzdorf escaped the Nazis in 1939 when, as a child, he was brought to England on a Kindertransport (children’s transport). Matzdorf moved to the U.S. in 1949 where he established his six-decade career as a sculptor, gold- and silver-smith, as well as a jewelry designer. Matzdorf was not only a talented artist, but he was also an influential teacher at the State University of New York at New Paltz, where he founded the metals program in 1966. Matzdorf is distinguished for his modernist designs of traditional Jewish ceremonial art and his timeless pieces, such as this elegant silver Hanukkah lamp.

Hanukkah lamp on display in Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff’s office. Photo courtesy the White House.

The silver Hanukkah lamp in Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff’s office was likely made in Germany in the second half of the nineteenth century. It came to the Jewish Museum from the Jewish community of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland) in 1939. Originally owned by the prominent art collector, grain merchant, and humanitarian Lesser Gieldzinski (1830–1910), he had donated his Jewish ceremonial objects, including this Hanukkah lamp, to the Great Synagogue of Danzig. Facing imminent Nazi invasion, members of the Danzig Jewish community, with the help of the American Joint Distribution Committee, shipped their precious objects to the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York (then home to the Jewish Museum) for safekeeping. The hundreds of objects arrived at the Seminary barely a month before the German army marched into Danzig in 1939. The pieces from the Danzig Jewish community have lived at the Jewish Museum ever since. The Hanukkah lamp in Second Gentleman Emhoff’s office has now traveled for the first time since its harrowing journey from Danzig, fulfilling the wishes of the community that the objects teach and inspire the world.


The Jewish Museum Lends Two Hanukkah Lamps to the White House was originally published in Flex lcd canon eos m3 on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Catching up with Dan and Claudia Zanes Read More

In advance of their upcoming virtual family concert, the musical duo talk about life, creativity, and “electric folk music for all ages.”

With a long-standing history of delighting family audiences at the Jewish Museum, Dan Zanes continues to be one of the Museum’s beloved children’s performers. On October 22, the singer, along with his wife and musical partner Claudia, will regale viewers through a Virtual Family Concert on the Museum’s YouTube Channel. The duo took some time out of their busy schedules this summer to fill the Museum in on their experience during the pandemic year, what it’s like to collaborate on music as husband and wife, and their (then) upcoming record release.

Dan + Claudia Zanes in the Jewish Museum’s upcoming YouTube Concert Premiere

Catch the pair during their October 22 Virtual Concert Premiere on the Jewish Museum’s YouTube channel.

Interview with Dan and Claudia Zanes

Rachel Levine, Assistant Director, Family Programs: It is a pleasure thinking back to the history of working together! The first concert for families that you performed on the Jewish Museum stage was in February 2003 with the full band of Dan Zanes & Friends! What was the spark or driving force in making music for families at that time?

Dan Zanes: I remember that show! The Jewish Museum was one of the first, if not the first, places in New York to regularly present family music. The energy in the room was tremendous! I was a new parent back then and I wanted music that would be a shared experience for my daughter and me. I wasted my youth playing rock and roll and making music for the all-ages crowd had a similar feeling. There was no road map. We could be as creative as we wanted to be and, best of all, at every show there was someone who’d never seen live music before! So we had the opportunity to share the joy of music making with people who were likely to go out and make their own music.

Rachel: I must say experiencing the magic and synergy of you two performing together has brought the repertoire to new levels. Share a little bit about your creative process for working together and writing music.

Claudia Zanes: We’ve been singing together since the day we met almost five years ago. We sang gospel, Haitian folk music, a little country. I guess that’s who we are at our core. We were always aware that this was something new for both of us. Even though Dan’s catalog of songs is pretty huge we’ve been writing new ones all along. The way it’s evolved is exciting. It feels like the best way to describe it is “electric folk music for all-ages.” We’ve been more conscious lately that families want to have conversations that aren’t always natural or traditional for them and we’re realizing that part of our job is to sing about life as we see it so that other people might have a way in to certain subjects. The first single from our new record is called “Reparations is a Must (4th of July Love Song)” so that gives you some idea. But there has to be joy in all of this. I think we’re good at sharing the joy and hope that we always feel.

Rachel: Last fall, when we were developing the virtual concert you performed, we spoke a lot about social justice and other important issues echoing in everyone’s minds. Your powerful song selection and version of “Shalom Rav” gave me chills!

Both: Thank you, we love that one!

Can you tell us a bit about how current events have impacted your music and/or performance style? How has it changed the way you share your music with families in terms of your focus or musical direction?

Dan: When I met Claudia I knew almost immediately that she was the person I’d been looking for my entire life. When we sang together I could hear something that I’d only dreamed about, a sound I didn’t think I would experience in this lifetime. When we wrote the songs for this record we were responding to the events of the world, trying to be like musical newspapers. It felt like we needed to sing about all that was on our hearts but we were also hearing from so many families who were saying “yes, more like this!” So we sing about the ferris wheels and summer nights, but we also sing about John Lewis’s nonviolence and dismantling systems of oppression. In other words freedom. We sing about freedom of the spirit and freedom in the world … with the occasional tickling song thrown in for good measure!

Rachel: Certainly the pandemic greatly impacted your approach and the “Social Isolation Song Series” comes to mind, how did that series develop?

Claudia: When the pandemic was declared in March of 2020 we decided we’d make a new video of a song every day. We wanted to give people some fresh music and stay connected to our community. And we thought it would probably go for a few months. 200 consecutive days later we played our last Social Isolation Song. The collection now lives in the Library of Congress Digital Archives. It gave us life and purpose during some challenging times and we felt anything but isolated. Many people responded every day and the conversation grew and grew. When we couldn’t find the song that said what we wanted to say we wrote one. By the end we had dozens of new songs … and dozens of new friends.

Rachel: What are you most looking forward to in the months ahead?

Dan: Our record!

Claudia: Yes, This is so exciting, our first record as Dan & Claudia Zanes. It’s called Let Love be Your Guide and it comes out on Smithsonian Folkways on September 10. The first single, “Reparations is a Must” came out recently and there will be two more before the release. So we’re planning videos and booking shows and choosing outfits and figuring out this sound we like to call “Electric Folk for All-Ages.” And how could I forget, we’ll be spending time playing with our young sheepadoodle named Rezi.

Dan: And we’re really looking forward to joining you all again. The Jewish Museum has a very special place in our hearts and we’re grateful for you, Rachel, and for all of the families that come out to sing and dance with gusto.

Dan + Claudia Zanes YouTube Video Premiere launches on October 22, at 4 pm EDT. Reserve free tickets for this online event at TheJewishMuseum.org.

“Catching Up With Dan and Claudia Zanes” was originally published in the August 2021 Jewish Museum Member Newsletter.


Catching up with Dan and Claudia Zanes was originally published in NWT Mizuno Performance Plus Elasticized YOUTH Baseball Pant Gray on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

At-Home Art Projects for Families, Part 2 Read More

Explore exhibitions as a family with this selection of hands-on art activities you can do together at home.

Photo by Will Ragozzino/SocialShutterbug.com

Enjoy this second selection of at-home art activities inspired by exhibitions on view and the Jewish Museum’s collection. These new activities, which relate to works in the Jewish Museum’s spring and summer exhibitions, playfully explore art processes related to photography, sculpture, and more. The materials listed are suggestions; feel free to use any alternatives that you have available in your home. Have fun sharing ideas and exploring new ways of creating art together as a family!

Photo Experiments and Found Object Portrait

Download these activities as a printable PDF

Lillian Bassman, “Barbara Mullen Blowing Kiss,” 1950. Gelatin silver print, Collection of Lizzie and Eric Himmel. New York © Estate of Lillian Bassman. The images in this activity guide are featured in the exhibition “Modern Look: Photography and the American Magazine” on view at the Jewish Museum from April 3 through July 11, 2021.

Photo Experiments

This photograph by Lilian Bassman was included in the fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar in 1950. Bassman was a photographer and art director who grew up in New York City, and she often captured people in their natural settings. As an editor, she was also known for her innovative use of color and graphic design.

For this activity, use your camera to take a unique portrait of yourself or a family member inspired by Lilian Bassman’s picture.

Materials needed:

  • Camera (iPhone, digital camera, or viewfinder)
  • Favorite clothes, hats, objects, or props

Look:

  • What is the woman doing in this photograph?
  • Try to take her pose.
  • What stands out to you about what she is wearing?
  • What words would you use to describe this person?
  • Where do you notice light and dark areas?

Process

  • Gather favorite clothes, accessories, and objects to include in your photograph.
  • Think about how a person’s pose might tell something about themselves.
  • What will you include in the background?
  • How will you use light to create a certain mood?
  • Experiment with different types of lighting, poses, costumes, and ways of framing the person.
  • You may use a photo app to experiment with filters.
ringl + pit, “Komol Haircoloring,” 1932, printed 1985. Gelatin silver print. Artwork © ringl+pit, courtesy Robert Mann Gallery, New York. Purchase: Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund. The images in this activity guide are featured in the exhibition “Modern Look: Photography and the American Magazine” on view at the Jewish Museum from April 3 through July 11, 2021.

Found-Object Portrait

The artist team Grete Stern and Ellen Auerbach created this image as an advertisement for hair coloring products. Born in Germany, the two friends started a photography and design studio together in Berlin called Ringl + Pit, which were also their childhood nicknames. For this activity, create a portrait using found objects and collage paper inspired by this photograph by Ringl + Pit.

Materials Needed:

  • Variety of small found objects
  • Colorful paper
  • Base paper or cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Look:

  • What do you see in this image?
  • List three different materials you notice.
  • Where do you see materials layered on top of each other?

Process:

  • Glue cut pieces of paper and found objects to the base to create a portrait of someone you know or a character from your imagination.
  • Think about using a variety of materials and get creative with the objects you might use to represent the features of this person.
  • Experiment with layering materials in playful ways.
  • Fill the background and think about what will surround your person or character.

Found Object Towers and Imaginative Character Portrait

Download these activities as a printable PDF

Louise Bourgeois was a French-American artist. She created sculptures inspired by her imagination and her memories, as well as by the human body. She was also an expert painter and printmaker. As a child, Bourgeois helped sew, weave, and draw designs in her parents’ tapestry repair studio.

Image: Louise Bourgeois, “Conscious and Unconscious,” 2008. Fabric, rubber, thread, and stainless steel. © The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY; Photo: Christopher Burke. This work is included in the exhibition “Louise Bourgeois, Freud’s Daughter,” on view May 21 — September 12, 2021.

Found Object Towers

For this activity, focus on repetition and building upwards to create a pair of sculptures using found materials.

Materials needed:

  • Found objects such as cardboard, plastic bottles, small wood pieces, wire, buttons, and tubes
  • Glue, Tape
  • Scissors
  • Clay — optional

Look:

  • What materials do you notice in the sculptures to the right?
  • What shapes do you see?
  • Where do you see materials and shapes repeated?
  • What is different about the structure on the left compared to the structure on the right? Think about them as characters in a conversation. What might they say to each other?
  • Do either of the structures remind you of something from the world around you?
  • Notice the glass box in which Bourgeois placed the sculptures. Why might she have put them in a display box?

Process:

  • Use your found materials, glue, and tape to build your own tower-like sculpture.
  • Think about how you might build up and use repeated materials, shapes, and colors.
  • Will you stack the same objects or alternate different materials? Will you hang objects off the sides of your tower? How will you attach and bind them together?
  • Optional: Create a second sculpture to pair with the one you just created similar to the way Louise Bourgeois paired her forms.
  • How might the second structure look different or, how might the two structures relate to each other? Will they be connected or separate?
  • Where might you display these sculptures in your home?

Imaginative Character Portrait

For this activity, use watercolors to paint an imaginative character to represent yourself or someone you know.

Image: Louise Bourgeois, “Self-Portrait,” 1947. Oil on linen, 44 x 15 in. © The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. This work is included in the exhibition “Louis Bourgeois, Freud’s Daughter,” on view May 21 — September 12, 2021

Materials needed:

  • Watercolor paint
  • Brushes
  • Water
  • Watercolor paper or thicker weight paper

Look:

  • What is unique about the character in this painting? Does this person look real or imaginary?
  • What do you notice about the clothes they are wearing?
  • What do you see in the background?
  • The title of this painting is “Self-Portrait.” A self-portrait is a work of art that an artist makes about themselves. What can you tell about Louise Bourgeois by looking at this self-portrait?

Process:

  • Use watercolor paints to create a playful character from your imagination to represent yourself or someone you know.
  • Your portrait can include realistic as well as made-up features.
  • Option: Consider painting an animal creature head on a person’s body.
  • Think about what else you might include in your painting. What are some of your subject’s favorite things? What kind of clothing do they usually wear? Where does this person like to spend time?

Family Activities are created by Rachael Abrams, Associate Manager of Studio Programs and Rachel Levine, Assistant Director of Family Programs.

Visit TheJewishMuseum.org/Families for more art-making ideas.


At-Home Art Projects for Families, Part 2 was originally published in 2 Aufkleber Harz Aufkleber 3D Italien 30 MM on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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