Your Jewish Museum
From January to December 2015, the Jewish Museum London hosted a series of three crowd-sourced exhibitions in collaboration with the Cultural Institute and Department of Theology & Religious Studies at King’s College London.
Collectively titled Your Jewish Museum, these exhibitions transformed the museum’s newly refitted Welcome Gallery into a collaborative space, displaying objects lent by the public alongside treasures from the museum’s own collection.
Museums often treat visitors as passive consumers of knowledge. This exhibition programme enabled visitors to share their possessions, and – equally importantly – their stories. Placing personal effects and creations alongside historic objects allowed both to take on new meanings. Everyday objects accrued a different significance for lenders when reverently displayed in the museum. For their part, museum artifacts recovered personal associations, reminding visitors that long before they belonged to museums, they were an intimate part of people’s lives.
In each of the shows – based on the themes of love, journeys, and sacrifice – the testimonies that accompanied these objects proved just as important as the pieces themselves. Visitors were touched by the intimate stories people revealed, which at times proved humorous, and at others tragic. Perhaps the single greatest tribute to the exhibition was the number of people, especially non-Jews, who came to the museum for the first time to see these exhibitions. By displaying objects from people of diverse religious and cultural backgrounds, these exhibitions created new relationships, binding the museum more closely to the wider community it serves.
The exhibition emphasised the appetite of students at all levels to combine their traditional classroom learning with studies and practical opportunities in cultural institutions, beyond simply doing summer internships. The exhibition programme created an excellent opportunity for MA students from ‘Christianity and the Arts’ to undertake curatorial internships at the Jewish Museum London. Dr Rosen led BA and MA classes and conducted a LAHP career development seminar in the exhibition space. Responses and other visitor data has informed Rosie Parker’s PhD thesis.
Dr Aaron Rosen
Dr Aaron Rosen is the Lecturer in Sacred Traditions & the Arts at King’s College London. He previously taught at Yale, Oxford, and Columbia Universities, after receiving his PhD from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Imagining Jewish Art (Legenda, 2009) and Art and Religion in the 21st Century (Thames & Hudson, 2015), named one of the best books of 2015 by The Times. He is the editor of Religion and Art in the Heart of Modern Manhattan (Ashgate, 2015) and co-editor of Visualising a Sacred City: London, Art and Religion (I.B. Tauris, forthcoming 2017). He also curated Stations of the Cross in venues across London including the National Gallery and St. Paul’s Cathedral (2016).
Dr Carolyn Rosen
Joanne Rosenthal is Curator of Exhibitions and Projects at Jewish Museum London and sits on the Board of the Association of European Jewish Museums. She has curated and co-curated major shows including: Four Four Jew: Football, Fans and Faith; Designing the 20th Century: Life and Work of Abram Games; and Blood: Uniting and Dividing.
Dr Carolyn Rosen received her MA and MSt from the University of Oxford, followed by a PhD on French theatre from Royal Holloway, University of London. She is currently training for ordination as an Anglican priest at Westcott House, Cambridge. She is especially interested in interfaith initiatives and community engagement.
Rosalind Parker is a researcher-practitioner in the area of religion and the arts. She received her MA and MPhil from the University of Cambridge, and is currently completing a PhD in theology at King’s College London, funded by the London Arts and Humanities Partnership. As a freelance curator, Rosalind has worked with the Women’s Interfaith Network, 3FF, and the Duke – Cambridge Divinity Exchange. She was artistic director for Ulfah Arts and Media, and has been assistant director and director for several major opera productions.
Lauren Hart has a BA in Biblical Studies from the University of Sheffield and an MA in Christianity and the Arts from King’s College London and currently works in the arts in London.
Your Jewish Museum is a Cultural Institute at King’s project in collaboration with the Department of Theology & Religious Studies and the Jewish Museum London.
Find out more about the exhibition on the Jewish Museum London's website: www.jewishmuseum.org.uk/journeys.