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Exhibitions & Collections

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Special Exhibitions

'Twas the Night Before Hanukkahtwas
Now Open


’Twas the Night Before Hanukkah explores the history of Hanukkah and Christmas music and the musicians, artists, and songwriters who wrote and performed them. The installation combines a cozy living room setting with modern technology to deliver a compelling story about the blending of American and Jewish musical traditions. ’Twas explores how performers used popular songs to shape the sounds of the holiday season, the soundtracks of religious holidays, and the musical standards we know today through interactive song and video platforms, as well as images of holiday-related artifacts from the Museum’s collection of 30,000 objects—all delivered on curated iPads accompanied by text and graphics of holiday celebrations.

The installation features well-known artists such as Irving Berlin, Benny Goodman, Bob Dylan, the Ramones, and Lou Reed, as well as Christmas gems by the likes of Jewish salsa giant Larry Harlow, and Jewish stage and screen icons Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson.

A holiday-themed self-guided tour highlighting holiday-related objects in the permanent exhibition will also be available.

This exhibition is a collaboration between the National Museum of American Jewish History and the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation.
Photo courtesy of the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation.


Liat Segal: Scattered Light  liat confession machine
Opening Event: January 28, 2015


Israeli artist Liat Segal makes her US debut at the Museum with Scattered Light, an innovative work of new media art. The piece weaves together key phrases from George Washington’s 1790 letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island affirming his commitment to religious liberty (on view at the Museum) with the reflections of Museum visitors collected from our It’s Your Story recording booths. Both Washington’s words and the contemporary commentary speak to the significance of religious freedom and to the continuing role we all play in its preservation.

Scattered Light pairs the old with the new through the use of a wand embedded with LED lights that move over a photosensitive surface, “printing” Washington’s words along with those of Museum visitors. The texts fade away over time, allowing new content to appear, creating an ever-evolving dialogue between history and the present.

Segal, who recently exhibited at the Venice Biennale, drew from her multidisciplinary background, including her past work as a researcher at Microsoft Innovation Labs and as a teacher at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, to create this installation.

Liat Segal and her Confession Machine, photo by Arnon Fisher.

Generous support provided by:
Shirley and Albert H. Small

israel logo
Consulate General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region

Jane and Stuart Weitzman



Richard Avedon: Family Affairs  
April 1 – August 2, 2015
 Avedon Ginsberg
 

Avedon’s striking fashion photography and minimalist, emotion-filled portraiture broke boundaries and, for nearly a half century, helped define Americans’ perceptions of beauty, politics, and power. This exhibition, for which NMAJH will be the first U.S. venue, unites two seminal bodies of work by the influential American Jewish photographer: a series of four portrait murals inspired by the revolutionary atmosphere of the 1960s and early 1970s, and a series of 68 portraits entitled The Family, originally published in Rolling Stone magazine on the eve of the 1976 election.

Exhibition organized by the Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Pictured above: Allen Ginsberg's family: Hannah (Honey) Litzky, aunt; Leo Litzky, uncle; Abe Ginsberg, uncle; Anna Ginsberg, aunt; Louis Ginsberg, father; Eugene Brooks, brother; Allen Ginsberg, poet; Anne Brooks, niece; Peter Brooks, nephew; Connie Brooks, sister-in-law; Lyle Brooks, nephew; Eugene Brooks; Neal Brooks,nephew; Edith Ginsberg, stepmother; Louis Ginsberg, Paterson, New Jersey, May 3, 1970; Photograph by Richard Avedon;© The Richard Avedon Foundation; From the Collection of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Gift of the American Contemporary Art Foundation, Leonard A. Lauder, President, to American Friends of the Israel Museum