The 2013 Council of American Jewish Museums Conference

March 18, 2013 1:37 am 0 comments

Last week in lower Manhattan, the Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM) hosted their annual conference, bringing together Jewish museum professionals from across the Americas and from around the world. I followed the conference, picking up on reoccurring themes that effect how contemporary Jewish art is and will be explored in institutional settings. In this and subsequent articles, I am presenting some findings, as well as dialogue from both sides of some dividing issues.

CAJM caters to all kinds of Jewish art museums, including those in historic synagogues, elder residencies, educational institutions, Holocaust memorials, and large facilities that exhibit multi-media exhibitions catered to broad audiences with diverse subject matter.

The central theme of the CAJM Conference this year was The City as Muse/um, conveying that urban places can be both sites for inspiration and exhibition.

Presenting at the opening plenary were David Karnofsky from the New York City Department of City Planning, along with Charles Renfro from Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Manon Slome from No Longer Empty, which creates site specific installations in empty storefronts around New York City.

Examples were given of using rezoning to create environments that combine gallery spaces with private and public venues to help foster a flow to the way people engage with art. These examples are were not specific to Jewish institutions, but rather helped bring a new awareness to the innovations in arts engagement that have happened in New York City through redesigning where people live, do business, and unwind. They have collectively established a hub for creative experiences within an already developed art scene.

In the overarching spirit of the conference’s theme “The City as Muse”– Jewish museums in urban areas, especially those set in historic synagogues, can take inspiration from the renewed interest in urbanized living and recreation and follow a model similar to No Longer Empty. These sites were encouraged to bring the synagogue back to its traditional place as somewhere a community would hold exciting social functions, with a updated focus on the interests of the young adults who are looking to engage locally. With that, bring a high level of curatorial direction to accessible spaces and think outside the box. A small but satisfied initial crowd will grow larger with subsequent events, given the quality of the experience remains.

For other institutions set in areas away from major creative activity, there was encouragement to take advantage of where people are already engaging. New organizations like the Nu Arts Initiative were calling on institutions to be flexible about engaging people outside of their walls. The underlying reasoning is that when you rethink where you are engaging people, it dictates the context for that engagement. This seems to be a difficult hump for brick and mortar institutions to get over, since they expect audiences to come to them.

New York City is its own animal when it comes to the general feeling towards Jews, art, and where they combine. Throughout the conference there were major discussions regarding how institutions engage their audience, how they can innovate their engagement through collaboration, and a debate over the way Jewish content is presented; whether the subject matter should be broadened for inclusivity vs. the perceived exclusivity that religion represents. My following articles will delve deeper into this subject-matter.

*Ideas presented in this article are taken from presenters, participants, and official CAJMcon tweets.

For more of my coverage of the CAJM conference, visit here.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater 10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    Last month, my one-man show Hoaxocaust! Written and performed by Barry Levey with the generous assistance of the Institute for Political and International Studies, Tehran ran in the New York International Fringe Festival, where it won an Overall Excellence Award. The play has now been selected to run in the Fringe Encores Series at Baruch College’s Performing Arts Center, for four performances which started on Thursday, September 11. Getting the play to the stage was not easy, however. Here are [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Phenomenon: Tel Aviv-based musician and “sampler” extraordinaire, Kutiman (aka Ophir Kutiel) has hit another one out of the park with “Give It Up,” a fully-functioning song in its own right, assembled from hundreds of ameteur and instructional music videos. The Jerusalem-born musical prodigy is best know for his diverse online musical projects. In the latest video, uploaded to YouTube on Sept. 12th, Kutiel thanked most of the musicians and individuals he chose to include in the meticulously-edited clip, which opens with [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    A recently released behind-the-scenes reel of Ridley Scott’s upcoming film Exodus: Gods and Kings shows just how far the director has gone to portray one of the Bible’s most famous narratives. In the clip, which shows scenes involving up to 4,000 extras, the visionary director discusses what drew him to the biblical tale of Moses. “The Moses story was a massive challenge, which I really love. I wanted to explore the complexity of his character and I was stunned by [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    JNS.org – Since 2006, the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable and satellite TV network has hosted “The Projected Image,” a month-long showcase examining how different cultural and ethnic groups have been portrayed on the big screen. At last, after previously covering African Americans, Asians, the LGBT community, Latinos, Native Americans, Arabs, and people with disabilities, the annual series is delving into Jewish film this month. “The Projected Image: The Jewish Experience on Film,” whose first segment aired Sept. 2, runs [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    The sight of young girls in pinafores and young boys wearing peyos – sidelocks – dangling over their ears is a sure sign that you have entered the enigmatic precincts of the Hasidim – the pious ones. Veteran New York Times journalist Joseph Berger’s new book, THE PIOUS ONES: The World of Hasidim and their Battles with America, takes the reader on a journey into the enclaves where various sects of Jews live a seemingly outmoded way of life in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    JNS.org – Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. Born Mendel Berlinger in Manhattan in 1908, Berle became America’s first small-screen star. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Television,” he influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “Milton Berle was deceptively successful and very Jewish,” says Lawrence Epstein, author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, published the year [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    JNS.org – Idan Ravin’s friends chipped in to buy him a humble but life-changing bar mitzvah gift—a basketball hoop his father attached to the roof of his garage. Little did his friends know that years later, he would be the personal trainer of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry. Ravin’s new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” details his rise from a Jewish upbringing [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.