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Museums and Collections
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Too Jewish or Not Jewish Enough
Ritual Objects and Avant-Garde Art at the Jewish Museum of New York
352 pages, 59 ills., bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-80539-277-4 $145.00/£107.00 / Hb / Published (February 2024)
eISBN 978-1-80539-278-1 eBook
“The Jewish Museum in New York is undoubtedly the premier Jewish museum in the United States… A scholar and an artist, Abt shows superbly the intricacies of creating the museum, the tensions and conflicts over definitions, the role of philanthropists, religious figures, curators, and scholars, and the impact of the site on the Museum Mile of New York. As such, this volume is engaging and important reading for all attracted to the world of museums.” Richard I. Cohen, co-author of Samuel Hirszenberg (1865–1908): A Polish Jewish Artist in Turmoil
“This is a cleanly written and well-organized history of the Jewish Museum in New York that clearly articulates how it came into being as well as that history’s significance for the larger field of (Jewish) museum studies. This is book that anyone involved in Jewish museums or Jewish material culture will want to read. The book fills a real gap in the field.” • Laura Leibman, Reed College
Displays of Jewish ritual objects in public, non-Jewish settings by Jews are a comparatively recent phenomenon. So too is the establishment of Jewish museums. This volume explores the origins of the Jewish Museum of New York and its evolution from collecting and displaying Jewish ritual objects, to Jewish art, to exhibiting avant-garde art devoid of Jewish content, created by non-Jews. Established within a rabbinic seminary, the museum’s formation and development reflect changes in Jewish society over the twentieth century as it grappled with choices between religion and secularism, particularism and universalism, and ethnic pride and assimilation.
Jeffrey Abt is Professor Emeritus at Wayne State University. Prior to that he worked at the Wichita Art Museum; the Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago; and Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art. An artist and writer, his artwork is in several museum and corporate collections. His books include American Egyptologist: The Life of James Henry Breasted and the Creation of His Oriental Institute and Valuing Detroit's Art Museum: A History of Fiscal Abandonment and Rescue. He co-edited and is on the editorial board of the Museum History Journal.
Subject: Museum StudiesJewish StudiesCultural Studies (General)
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