What is a Jewish Museum? What characterizes them? Are today’s Jewish Museums in Europe de facto Holocaust museums? Why do Jewish Museums matter?
These are some of the issues tackled by NYU Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett in her keynote address to the annual conference of the Association of European Jewish Museums, held at the Jewish Museum London November 19-22, 2011. The London museum has uploaded the audio of her address, which can be heard in full at this Soundcloud link.
Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is University Professor and Professor of Performance Studies at New York University. She currently leads the core exhibition development team for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, now being built on the site of the World War II Warsaw Ghetto and scheduled to open in April 2013. Long associated with YIVO, she worked with Polish-born scholar Lucjan Dobroszycki on the landmark 1976 exhibition Image Before My Eyes: A Photographic History of Jewish Life before the Holocaust, which also became a book and film. Her latest book, They Called Me Mayer July, was a collaboration with her father, Mayer Kirshenblatt. It combined Kirshenblatt’s paintings depicting pre-war life in his hometown of Opatow (Apt in Yiddish) Poland with stories and memories gleaned from interviews Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett began conducting with him in the 1960s. Her books also include Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage.