Jewish Museum

July 12, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Posted in General, London, museum, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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London’s Jewish Museum has been closed for 2 years while refurbishment and modernization work takes place.

I didn’t go to the old version so I can’t comment on the changes but what’s there (in a limited physical space) is rather impressive.

When we visited the museum had a special exhibit on “Illuminations” showing a number of Jewish books and texts with intricate calligraphy, illustrations and histories. For instance, many had been collected by Christian scholars for their artistic and religious merits.

Working our way down we learnt about the Jewish experience in the UK, from their arrival in 1066, expulsion, re-admittance, the World Wars, the formation of Israel and modern life.

There is also a section on the Holocaust, which was done really well. The curators traced one British Jew’s experience as he was taken to a death camp, eventually freed by American soldiers and his life back in Britain. My only complaint about this gallery is the lack of seating for the 22min film. Consequently I didn’t each much of it.

The first floor is devoted to the religious faith and cultural practices that make up the Jewish faith. It provides a very useful primer.

The museum has made  wonderful use of technology, which help to maximize the available space. For example:

  • touch screens abound with the option to learn more about specific topics
  • various buttons to bring up video/audio content, such as an introduction to Jewish theatre,
  • a touch table to find out more about modern Jewish life in the UK. I tried to explain how to use it to a couple of older ladies but was only partially successful

It’s a shame that after a pleasant time and friendly staff my last encounter was with a rather condescending staff member/volunteer who ‘explained’ how to exit the building.

Despite that on the whole its an informative and well presented museum that is particularly useful for those unfamiliar with Judaism, especially the UK experience.

The museum is located in Camden and costs £7 for adults.

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