Arts and Culture | Local

Jewish History Museum’s new interactive core exhibit prioritizes local voices

The Jewish History Museum, open by appointment only during the summer, will reopen Friday, Aug. 31, with a new core exhibition, “Meanings Not Yet Imagined.”

“Meanings Not Yet Imagined” is the final stage of a curatorial project that began with the installation of the Holocaust History Center’s “Intimate Histories” exhibition in 2016, explains Bryan Davis, JHM executive director.

“These exhibitions illuminate the richness and complexity of the Jewish experience represented by individuals across Southern Arizona,” he says.  “Meanings Not Yet Imagined” provides opportunities for individuals across the community to share their families’ experiences in the formal space of the museum. The exhibits explore themes of immigration, discrimination and community building.

The exhibition is modular and uses a variety of media, which allows for the development of additional content over time. “Meanings Not Yet Imagined” comprises six displays,  including “Mapping Migration: A Photographic Memoir Project,” presented as a digital exhibit that maps the trajectories of Jewish migration to Southern Arizona across generations through triptychs of historical and contemporary family photos. A call for photos remains open for this display.

“Antisemitism and Exclusion” is a listening station that allows visitors to explore curated clips of interviews with individuals who discuss various forms of institutional discrimination that have been experienced in Southern Arizona, and how those instances of discrimination have been challenged.

An interactive digital display introduces our community rabbis and the Jewish calendar to museum visitors. 

“This exhibition is important for several reasons. It brings a sense of cohesion to the whole museum project in terms of curation, programming and the overarching ethic of the work. We are inviting the community to participate in the telling of our history in an inclusive rather than authoritative way,” says Davis. 

“In developing this exhibition, we wanted to find new ways to witness the past through the present, prioritizing voices within our community, unlike the traditional ‘authoritative’ position that institutions have often held in presenting history. Through interactive media within the exhibits such as touch screens and listening stations we invite the community to engage actively with content that represents our collective past and present simultaneously,” adds Nika Kaiser, JHM curator.

The museum campus, which includes the Jewish History Museum and the Holocaust History Center, is located at 564 S. Stone Ave. For more information, visit www.jewishhistorymuseum.org or call 670-9073.

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