Great British Jews: A Celebration

  • heritage
  • cultural history
  • social history
  • post war history
  • history
  • design

What does the high street shop Marks and Spencer, pop-culture icon Amy Winehouse, a plate of fish and chips, the bawdy humour of Carry On films and the Durex brand all have in common?

That’s right, you guessed it. They are all great, all British and all Jewish.

This colourful, joyful and interactive exhibition celebrates the achievements and contributions made by Great British Jews to all aspects of society; from the arts to public service, sport to science and commerce to academia.

The exhibition seeks to showcase some of the most recognisable and beloved British people, places and inventions with Jewish roots. It comes out of a larger project, the ‘Jewish Lives Project,’ which the museum has developed and led over several years, resulting in 6 published reference books and a searchable online database of British Jewish biography.

Inspired by the traditional wunderkammer or cabinet of curiosities, it evokes a sense of the scale and diversity of Jewish contribution. All the objects in this exhibition are on open display and visitors are encouraged to get up close to them, to touch and pick items up, heightening the sense of discovery as the space is explored.

The majority of representative objects on display were purchased for this exhibition. By not using items from the collection, the curatorial team were granted total freedom in the way they displayed, interpreted and invited interaction with the objects.