London’s Jewish Museum (JML) is now re-pitching itself as “a museum without walls” after it closed its Camden Town building in September.
Instead, the Museum is branching out by loaning items from its collection to a variety of places all over the country, including Bradford Reform Synagogue, the Museum of London Docklands, the Faith Museum in Bishop Auckland, and Camden’s own JW3, where the new offices of JML will be housed.
More than 40 JML items feature in the Museum of London Docklands’ new exhibition, Fashion City: How Jewish Londoners shaped global style. Its fashion curator, Lucie Whitmore, said: “We are incredibly grateful to JML: their collections have been vital in telling the stories and representing the life and culture of the Jewish East End”.
Exhibits on loan to the show include marketing signage from tailors’ shops (“The man who retains his smartness is always in demand!”), documentation of the Jewish Free School’s practical apprenticeship programmes, photography detailing wedding fashions, and tools of the trade including mannequins, needlework and accessories.
JW3 is hosting Pitch Up: Community Voices, an installation created at Jewish Museum London featuring six community-led displays. Inspired by East End market stalls, Pitch Up invites organisations to choose a set of items to discuss the themes of identity, memory and place. JW3’s own stall demonstrates how far the organisation has come by remembering some of its earliest iterations, including the 2008 architectural model, leaflets and posters from awareness-raising events before it opened, and the invitation to the inauguration.
The recently-opened Faith Museum in Bishop Auckland draws on the JML collection to explore how faith, belief, and religion have shaped lives and communities in Britain throughout history, with further objects going there in the new year. The displays feature a special loan from JML, a charity lottery wheel from the Great Synagogue dating back to the 1800s, which was used to draw lots when funds were not enough. In January, two tally sticks, medieval wooden accounting devices, will also be loaned to the Faith Museum.
At Bradford Reform Synagogue, a new display is opening for Chanukah featuring items from the JML collection including a souvenir china bowl and teacup, traditional recipes, sheet music and greetings cards. The Jewish Deaf Association in North London will display objects relating to the history of the deaf community, including a silver medal awarded in 1917 for lip reading.
There are existing loans from the extensive JML collection to the Imperial War Museum, V&A, Hackney Museum, the Discovery Museum in Newcastle, and the National Museum of Flight in Scotland, as well as several international museums.
Meanwhile, the museum continues to find ways to provide a wide range of audiences with positive experiences of Judaism and Jewish culture, particularly through its award-winning in-person sessions in primary and secondary schools. This Chanukah, Jewish Museum London will be holding two special events on December13, a virtual tour of eight remarkable lamps in its collection, and a special broadcast for primary schools.
JML chair Nick Viner said: “As we enter our transition towards a future museum, we continue to be very active indeed. With further partnerships in development, we look forward to developing further the profile of our museum without walls.”
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