Jewish Museum targets global audience with Jewish Britain: A History in 50 Objects

By Culture24 Reporter | 12 January 2012
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A photo of a colourful banner for The London Jewish Bakers Union
Baking and Jewish heritage unite in a new online display
© Jewish Museum
An 18-month project by the inventive team at London's Jewish Museum has resulted in an impressive online display of 50 key objects from the Jewish community in Britain, stretching back to Medieval times.

A 13th century ritual bath, a 1930s camera owned by East End wedding photographer Boris Bennett, a 17th century Rembrandt portrait of Rabbi and diplomat Menasseh Ben Israel and the proud banner of the London Jewish Bakers' Union are among the highlights of Jewish Britain: A History in 50 Objects, a simple yet detailed site split into six key sections.

Several highlights from the new-look Camden centre's acclaimed collection of Judaica – Jewish ritual art – have been included.

"The Museum holds around 28,000 objects and, as with similar organisations, we are unable to display them all," said Elizabeth Selby, the Curator of Social History at the museum.

"By digitising our collections in this way, we can share our knowledge and passion for British Jewish history with a far wider audience, both in the UK and internationally.

"Each object is a gateway into British Jewish history. We hope that those who visit the online exhibition will gain a better insight into how Jewish people have lived within and contributed to British life over the last 350 years."

Each exhibit shown is enhanced by historical points of references, contemporaneous images and insights into how the object arrived at the museum.

The idea hopes to repeat the success of the museum's Yiddish Theatre in London page and the popularity of the British Museum's A History of the World in 100 Objects.

"This has been a fascinating project to work on," added Selby, who said targeting a "global online audience" represented a "really important progression".

"The main challenge we faced was actually narrowing the selection to only 50, as we have so many exceptional objects here, whilst at the same time ensuring as broad a history as possible was being told."

The exhibition is part of Judaica Europeana, a project presenting Jewish heritage across Europe on the Europeana website. The Jewish Museum is a partner organisation of the European-Commission funded scheme.

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