What comes first? The collection or the story? What is the story the collection tells, and can the story the museum wants to tell be told through the collection? Given the politics of history and historical policies in Europe today, Jewish museums have a special role to play. Prague, Budapest, London, Paris, Berlin, Warsaw, Moscow, Vienna – Jewish museums in these and other European cities have taken different approaches. Their strategies reflect not only the history of the institution and its collection, but above all new understandings of the story to be told, who it is for, and how to create experiences that are memorable, emotional, and thought provoking.
Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett was honored for lifetime achievement by the Foundation for Jewish Culture and received honorary doctorates from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and University of Haifa. She was decorated with the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland for her contribution to POLIN Museum. Most recently she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
She serves on Advisory Boards for the Council of American Jewish Museums, Jewish Museum Vienna, Jewish Museum Berlin, and the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow, and is an advisor for museum and exhibition projects in Lithuania and Israel. Her publications include Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage and They Called Me Mayer July: A Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust (with Mayer Kirshenblatt).
Free and open to the public