This interdisciplinary honors seminar looks at Jewish museums as a case study of the prominent role that museums play in the public culture of ethnic and religious minority communities.
Though they have only been around for a little more than a century, Jewish museums have become strategic sites for Jews to present their history and culture to a larger public. The seminar will begin with background on the history of private collecting, temporary exhibitions, and the advent of museums as public institutions, positioning Jewish museums within this larger history. The seminar will then examine different kinds of Jewish museums around the world, including art museums, regional history museums, Holocaust museums, and multicultural museums in which Jews figure alongside other peoples. Studying Jewish museums engages a lively intersection of interests: public history, art, architecture, media, urban studies, ethnic studies, modern culture, and memory practices. Our examination of Jewish museums will consider what they reveal about how modern public culture engages issues of history, aesthetics, religion, ethnicity, and politics.
As part of the seminar, students will visit several museums in New York City and meet with people working in these museums. Over the course of the semester, students will be asked to take turns leading class discussions of different museums. Each student will also prepare a curatorial project on a topic of her/his choosing, in consultation with the professor, and will present this work to the class at the conclusion of the seminar.
Note: This seminar does not require any prior experience in Jewish studies. Students should plan on being available for two Sunday visits to museums in New York City during the semester. These visits will be scheduled in lieu of regular class sessions (dates to be determined).
Open to Honors Students or by Special Permission.
Please contact Professor Shandler.