The Wreck of the Jewish Museum

From its priceless collection of artworks, a foremost cultural institution has harvested mainly inferior examples for display, while submerging Jewish identity in a sea of “universal values.”

A view of “OY/YO,” an aluminum sculpture by Deborah Kass featured in the Jewish Museum’s new exhibition of its permanent collection. Jewish Museum.

A view of “OY/YO,” an aluminum sculpture by Deborah Kass featured in the Jewish Museum’s new exhibition of its permanent collection. Jewish Museum.

Essay
May 6 2019
About the author

Menachem Wecker, a freelance journalist based in Washington DC, covers art, culture, religion, and education for a variety of publications.


A banner identifies the building at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 92nd Street—in one of the world’s most prominent neighborhoods for art—as the city’s venerable, 115-year-old Jewish Museum. Its collection of about 30,000 objects makes this among the most important such institutions anywhere and, according to its website, one of the oldest remaining Jewish museums in the world. Downstairs, at the museum’s outlet of Russ & Daughters café, customers devouring the herring, knishes, and blintzes are assured that everything on the—also venerable—menu is under kosher supervision.

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More about: Arts & Culture, Jewish art, Jewish museum, Museums