UNDER ITS MOTTO, “LEARNING THE PAST, CONFRONTING THE PRESENT, EDUCATING THE FUTURE,” THE MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE WAS FOUNDED 20 YEARS AGO IN SEPTEMBER 1997, JUST ACROSS FROM THE STATUE OF LIBERTY AND ELLIS ISLAND IN BATTERY PARK CITY IN MANHATTAN, NY, ON THE EDGE OF THE HUDSON RIVER, THE MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE, “A LIVING MEMORIAL TO THE HOLOCAUST,” OPENED ITS DOORS.
The Museum is an American public institution with strong Jewish roots, and as a historic institution it o ers intellectually rigorous and engaging exhibitions, programs, and educational resources promoting the understanding of Jewish heritage. Since its opening, 2 million visitors have passed through its doors to learn and remember, including more than 50 thousand schoolchildren per year.
A SYMBOLIC BUILDING The main building of the museum, designed by Roche-Dinkeloo is an impressive granite 5- foot-tall building topped by a pyramid structure called the Living Memorial to the Holocaust. The hexagonal shaped and six-tiered louvered roof are reminders of the si million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. They are also reminiscent of the six-pointed Star of David, symbolizing the Museum’s commitment to representing Jewish life and culture as it has endured and evolved. CORE EXHIBITION – COLLECTION – Taking visitors from the 1 0s to the present day, the Museum’s Core Exhibition features more than 00 artifacts and 2,000 photographs that illustrate Jewish history and that highlight personal experiences of global significance. It contains more than 25,000 items relating to modern Jewish history and the Holocaust.
Throughout the core exhibition’s three floors, organized chronologically is a thematic journey around the themes of Jewish Life a Century Ago, The War Against the Jews, and Jewish Renewal, where the voices of Jewish people from all walks of life tell their stories of survival and hope. By providing the story of the Holocaust through the experiences of those who lived and died, enabling Holocaust survivors to speak through recorded testimony and draws on rich collections, the museum serves as a memorial and tribute to their heritage, and a lesson to be learned from the tragedy. The Museum provides not only a remembrance of the past but also the promise of a better future.
The whole third floor represents Jewry after 1945 and Includes information on displaced persons, the emergence of the Jewish State, continued anti-Semitism, and a reminder to “never forget.”
GARDEN OF STONES PERMANENT INSTALLATION BY ANDY GOLDSWORTHY
Andy Goldsworthy’s Garden of Stones is a living memorial garden. The installation is the artist’s first permanent commission in New York City. It was opened to the public on September 17, 2003. It is an outdoor space devoted to contemplation and reflection, dedicated to the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust and honoring those who survived. The sculpture, 1 massive stone boulders with holes re-seared through their centers are intended to be viewed, contemplated, and cared for by future generations. This living memorial garden of trees growing from stones was planted by the artist, Holocaust survivors and by their families in 2003. A single planted sapling grows in the hollow within each stone. As the trees mature, each will become a part of the stone, its trunk and roots widening and fusing to the base the artist’s metaphor for the tenacity and fragility of life. This contemplative space, meant to be revisited and experienced differently over time as the garden matures, is visible from almost every door of the Museum. The effect of time on humans and nature is richly present in Garden of Stones. The museum also features a virtual exploration of Andy Goldsworthy’s Garden of Stones called Timekeeper. Andy Goldsworthy is a British artist, well-known for his use of stones, leaves, wood, and water, among other materials, to create art pieces.
EDMOND J. SAFRA HALL
At the 375-seat, state-of-the-art Edmond J. Safra Hall, the museum o ers a full schedule of films, concerts, and panel discussions throughout the year that is consistent with its mission. Past programs have included symposia on the Holocaust, interfaith dialogues, and concerts featuring established and emerging artists. over the last few years, the museum has held day-long symposiums on Darfur with policy makers and leaders on human rights. It has presented performers such as Idan Raichel and David Strathairn. It has also hosted lm screenings with actors and directors such as Kirk Douglas, John Turturro, Quentin Tarantino, Claude Lanzmann, and Edward wick. Finally, it has explored justice after the Holocaust with experts like Alan Dershowitz and it has even hosted the revival of a Yiddish operetta, Die Goldene Kale.
In 2003, the museum became affiliated with JewishGen, the leading internet site for Jewish genealogy, which provides free online access to a vast collection of Jewish ancestral records. In addition to the New York campus, the Museum has also operated the Auschwitz Jewish Center in wi cim, Poland, since 2000.
Article Published in JW Magazine Winter 2017
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