The 2nd International Workshop on Jewish Heritage organized by the Parkes Institute is following on from the 2016 workshop themed around ‘Jewish Heritage and Its Communities’. That workshop brought together academics, museum staff and grassroots activists from all over Europe. Excellent presentations covered a wide range of topics, from Judaica collecting in St Petersburg to audience expectations at the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow and the innovative use of churches in the UK and stimulated animated discussions. Yet many aspects of community-relations could only be briefly addressed and that is why another conference has been organized. This event will focus more specifically on museums and communities and take place at the Jewish Museum London.
Museums entertain multiple relationships with communities, be they volunteers, sponsors, visitors and other users, but also with the people in their immediate neighbourhoods and the wider society. They all have their own agendas and interests, which can come into conflict with each other. Many of these issues pertain to all museums, but Jewish museums are also confronted with specific challenges. An important particularity is that many Jewish museums in Europe have been established over the last three decades in places with hardly any Jewish communities left. Yet, most of them reach beyond the Jewish communities and try to speak both to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences.
The aim of the workshop is to foster dialogue across nations and between practitioners, researchers, and those who work for museums, in a professional or voluntary capacity. There is scope for forging closer links between these agents who work in the same sector but lack joint forums for debate. The last workshop has led to a couple of working partnerships and we hope that the same will happen again next time. The event will also be an opportunity for participants to showcase their most recent research and museum projects and to network internationally.