No Longer in Exile: Overhaul of Diaspora Museum Reflects a New Zionist Narrative

July 17, 2009

Source: The Forward


Tel Aviv’s Museum of the Jewish Diaspora has announced that it will completely overhaul its exhibitions in an effort to update them to state-of-the-art museum technology with interactive displays and to put Diaspora Jews on an equal footing with those in Israel.


The state-funded museum, which opened in 1978, will soon begin a $25 million project to expand its footprint, redevelop the exhibitions and reopen in 2012 with what essentially will be a new museum, including a new name: the Museum of the Jewish People.


Located on the Tel Aviv University campus, the museum houses permanent exhibitions, a genealogical database and photo archives. Abba Kovner, leader of the Vilna Ghetto uprising, conceived it, and when it opened it was considered a sign of the growing intimacy between Israel and Diaspora communities.


The detailed redevelopment plan was announced at a meeting of the international board of governors at the end of June, 2009. The redevelopment will go forward without the museum closing.


At the new museum, there still will be exhibitions on the establishment of the State of Israel, but there also will be major displays on contemporary Jewish life outside Israel. An international advisory board, comprising members of communities across the world, will be involved in planning them.


The plan will be funded by the government of Israel and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, the central body for Holocaust restitution claims. Donors also will contribute, including the NADAV Fund.

Updated: Aug. 03, 2009