Jewish Museums Today

JEWISH MUSEUMS TODAY is a new initiative from the AEJM, aiming to provide its members professional with development opportunities beyond the existing programmes for educators and curators. The series of network meetings will offer in-depth research, exchange and discussion on current affairs in European Jewish museums.

European Jewish museums today are being confronted with particular and sometimes even disturbingly difficult challenges. The AEJM is ever more called to support its members and to reflect on the challenges its members are facing in an overcrowded landscape of activities that covers everything from the preservation and research of Jewish heritage in Europe to educational programmes in societies formed by migration, growing resentments and competing Diasporas.

The network has expressed a demand for more in-depth discussion of specific topics that are highly relevant for Jewish museums in Europe, but that are not covered by the current professional development programmes on offer. In the previous years some of these potential topics have been included in the Annual Conference programme and were well received by conference participants. The AEJM acknowledges that much more could be done to assist and supports its member in facing these challenges.

With the series JEWISH MUSEUMS TODAY the AEJM plans to provide its members professional development opportunities that offer in-depth research, exchange and discussion on current affairs in European Jewish museums. At the same time the AEJM would be able to reach out to professionals working at Jewish museums that usually do not attend AEJM activities but that could strongly benefit from custom-made professional development programmes.

The first edition, Public & Space, took place in Amsterdam February 20-21, 2017.

Jewish Museums Today Public & Space Programme

PUBLIC & SPACE was a two-day meeting that focused on communication at Jewish museums in Europe. Through this new network meeting the AEJM aimed at building up a network of museum professionals in the field of communication at Jewish museums, as well as supporting further professionalisation of this network. The programme was hosted by the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam (NL).

The meeting in Amsterdam offered a varied 2-day programme that included practical workshops, site-visits and meetings with experts. The first day focused on the concept of Space: Transforming the Museum – how museum renewal offers opportunities for new communication strategies. The second day was centred around the concept of Public: Breaking the Barriers. Prior to the meeting an extensive tour of the Jewish Cultural Quarter had been offered. The 3rd optional day included behind-the-scenes expert visits to Foam Photography Museum and the Hermitage Amsterdam. Read our report here.

22 delegates working at Jewish museums from 13 different countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, and Poland) representing 16 AEJM member institutions, as well as 4 non-member organizations, attend PUBLIC & SPACE.



As contemporary cultural institutions Jewish museums need to position themselves in a local, regional, national or even international cultural landscape. This can be achieved in different ways and by using different strategies, for example through organizing attractive temporary exhibitions, programming engaging and meaningful learning activities, or through becoming part of greater cultural networks or Jewish heritage routes.

When it comes down to communication and marketing, Jewish museums differ from their ‘non-Jewish’ con-colleagues  Looking at current developments all over Europe, where Jewish museums are renewing themselves and new Jewish museums being established, our museums are looking for ways to communicate their messages to the world. Who are we as Jewish museums and why do we matter? However, being a Jewish museum is often not only about what you want your institution to be, but also how others perceive your institution. Often our museums are being confronted with preconceived notions about Jews or what a Jewish museum “is” or “should be” (a holocaust museum, an Israel-related museum). Furthermore, in the face of (re-)emerging anti-semitism, Jewish museums also have to communicate to its audiences that they are a safe place to visit.