CALL FOR PAPERS: Jewish Museologies and the Politics of Display

Jewish Museologies and the Politics of Display

13-14 March 2016, Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Leeds

Supported by a grant from the European Association for Jewish Studies

Confirmed speakers:

Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek (independent curator and researcher)
Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews)
Cilly Kugelman (Jewish Museum Berlin)

A two-day international symposium is to explore the critical debates about Jewish museologies in the light of

  1. Jewish institutions and
  2. Jewish presences in non-Jewish museums (city museums, national museums, specialist museums);

The conference will include panels on current museum developments in Germany, Central-Eastern Europe, Western Europe (continental), UK/Ireland. The meeting will include a workshop on current local/grassroots archival and heritage collecting and research, including community engagement.

In the wake of the opening of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, the first major museum of Jewish history in an East-Central European capital in over a century, this conference aims to reassess the diversity of Jewish museologies in post-WWII Europe, as well as in the context the UK/Ireland, as developments are taking place in Leeds, Manchester and elsewhere. These developments, decentralised as they are, raise questions about what Jewish museology should be and can be: a museology of celebration or commemoration? A history lesson or an encounter with art and aesthetics?

In addition, the conference will address specific issues relating to Jewish museums and Jewish history in museums in the UK and Ireland in a European context.

As debates on the musealisation of Jewish history / culture proliferate, this conference will engage international curators and scholars to address some of the following questions:

  • Are there commonalities among Jewish museums in Europe?
  • What are these museums and exhibitions trying to achieve?
  • How do they construct and involve their stakeholders?
  • How do they engage with the political discourses that shape their societies?
  • Is a dividing line emerging between museums in countries directly affected by the Holocaust and others not directly affected?
  • What research is needed, and has become possible as archival resources become available and laws change?
  • With new challenges arising in living in a Europe increasingly divided about its asylum policies and vulnerable to extremist violence, what museological reorientations may be needed?


Please propose a topic and provide an abstract for a 20 minute paper by email to Eva Frojmovic at

Deadline: 15 January 2016. Subject heading: Jewish Museologies.