When the National Museum of American Jewish History opens at its new location on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall in November 2010, a core piece of its permanent exhibition will be the “Only in America Gallery/Hall of Fame”. The museum has relaunched its Web site including a section asking the public to help select the first 18 subjects for this exhibit.
The website contains a list of 218 candidates, along with biographical information, selected by the museum's team of historians and drawn from the arenas of arts and entertainment; business and philanthropy; literature; performance; politics, law and activism; religion and thought; science and medicine; and sports. The website visitors are asked to choose three names of prominent Jewish Americans in each category. A section is available as well for write-in votes.
The new museum building will include a large gallery on the first floor called the Only in America/Hall of Fame. An innovative combination of multimedia, original artifacts and interactive experiences, it will illustrate the choices, challenges and opportunities a select few individuals encountered on their pathways to remarkable achievement. Through the lives of real people, some well known, others less so, Only in America will weave together compelling stories from the past and present with the larger themes of the Museum's 24,000-square-foot core exhibition.
The Museum views the 218 people featured on the polling website as a representative sample, a starting point, for a rich discussion about major themes in American and American Jewish life during the past 355 years. The information provided about each of the candidates is a rich resource for this discussion.