MAJOR GIFT ENABLES NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN JEWISH HISTORY TO DIGITIZE ITS CORE EXHIBITION
November 15, 2021
New Virtual Tour – Created by an Israeli Multimedia Producer – Is Now Accessible Worldwide
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (November 15, 2021) – The National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) has just released a comprehensive virtual tour of its acclaimed core exhibition, thanks to a major gift from Jewish philanthropist George Blumenthal. Released on the 11th anniversary of NMAJH opening its iconic location on Philadelphia’s Historic Independence Mall, the virtual tour explores more than 360 years of American Jewish life, from the earliest days of European settlement until the present day.
View the virtual tour here: nmajh.org/virtual-tour
“George’s generosity over the years and especially with this project has been incredible,” said NMAJH CEO Dr. Misha Galperin. “Thanks to his support, we have been able to expand the reach of our award-winning exhibition content–including our baseball and Leonard Bernstein exhibitions previously–and the stories and objects of American Jewish life to audiences across the globe.”
Blumenthal, a pioneer in the cellular radio telephone industry in the United States and Italy, shares his passion for education through arts and culture by funding major digitization projects at religious and cultural institutions throughout the world. He’s worked with Ardon Bar Hama, an Israel-based, internationally recognized digital photographer, on many endeavors from photographing the Dead Sea Scrolls and treasures of the Vatican to digitizing the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, as well as more than four million pages of historical documents at the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
“Ever since I became involved with NMAJH to help digitize the 2014 special exhibition, Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American, I’ve been interested in expanding access to the Museum’s core exhibition,” George Blumenthal said. “As a Jewish American, I know how important it is to tell the story of our people in this country. Now, NMAJH will be able to reach a larger audience than ever before. The sky’s the limit.”
As NMAJH works to open its galleries to the public following last year’s pandemic-induced shutdown, reaching a broad audience of Jews and non-Jews around the country and the world remains central to NMAJH’s mission. Digitizing its galleries was important to NMAJH, which already offered virtual versions of special exhibitions and an earlier-generation digital core exhibition through Google Arts and Culture. When the pandemic forced all Museum content online, staff made it a priority to produce this new, expanded virtual tour.
“When I started at NMAJH 25 years ago, we used informal photographs to document a portion of our artifacts and exhibitions,” said Claire Pingel, Chief Registrar and Associate Curator at NMAJH. “We worked hard to digitize and augment these images over the years, but now we’re taking a huge leap forward thanks to George Blumenthal and Ardon Bar Hama. Their efforts greatly expand NMAJH’s ability to bring the story of American Jewish history to school groups, synagogues, and researchers anywhere in the world.”
Using special gear including a 360-degree camera combined with close-up photography, Bar Hama filmed and photographed each gallery, exhibition case, and artifact in NMAJH’s core exhibition. Within the virtual tour, visitors will find panoramic views of the galleries and can zoom in on the contents of each case, read documents, watch films, view the backs and sides of items, and listen to podcasts recorded in the galleries. This virtual offering is a resource for researchers and curious people everywhere since the tour enables audiences to zoom in on details of artifacts that aren’t accessible in person.
The tour creates expanded access and new virtual visit opportunities for schools, synagogues, and other groups, especially those that are unable to come to Philadelphia to visit the Museum, and docents will be trained to use the virtual tour to offer enhanced online experiences for groups around the country and world.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN JEWISH HISTORY
Established in 1976, and situated on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, the National Museum of American Jewish History is the only museum in the nation dedicated exclusively to exploring and interpreting the American Jewish experience. NMAJH presents educational programs and experiences that preserve, explore, and celebrate the history of Jews in America. Its purpose is to connect Jews more closely to their heritage and to inspire in people of all backgrounds a greater appreciation for the diversity of the American Jewish experience and the freedoms to which Americans aspire. http://nmajh.org