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Jewish Museum closer to saving 300-year-old silver hanukah lamp

The Jewish Museum has been awarded several large grants towards the purchase of the ‘Lindo lamp’, the earliest known English Hanukah lamp, which is one of the most important treasures of British Jewish heritage in the museum.

The museum has raised grants totalling £250,000 towards the sum of £300,000 needed to purchase this unique piece of 18th-century silver Judaica from its current owners. The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) has agreed to contribute £145,000 while independent charity The Art Fund and the MLA /V&A Purchase Fund have awarded £75,000 and £30,000 respectively. However, the museum still needs to raise the remaining £50,000 from private sources in order to secure the future of this outstanding item and to prevent it from being removed from the public sphere.

The Hanukah lamp has been on loan to the Jewish Museum since the 1930s and has been on display for over 70 years. It was commissioned from silversmith John Ruslen in 1709 on the marriage of Elias Lindo to Rachel Lopes Ferreira. The Lindos were prominent members of the early community of Spanish and Portuguese Jews in London and founder members of Bevis Marks Synagogue, established in 1701. Elias’s father, Isaac Lindo (1638-1712), fled the Inquisition in the Canary Isles and settled in London in 1670. The backplate of the Hanukah lamp is chased with the figure of Elijah fed by the ravens in a play on the patron’s Hebrew name.

The Jewish Museum is currently undergoing a major £10m Development Project, part funded by a £4.2m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and plans to reopen in early 2010. The expansion will triple the space at the museum’s Camden Town premises, bring together the collections, displays and activities of its two former sites and create new education facilities and exhibition galleries with hands-on displays for children and families.

The lamp will be on public display in the newly developed gallery, Judaism: A Living Faith, housing the museum’s magnificent collection of Jewish ceremonial art which has been awarded Designated status by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council in recognition of its outstanding national importance.

Rickie Burman, Jewish Museum Director, said: "We are delighted to receive these significant grant awards which bring us closer to securing the future of the Lindo lamp as part of the permanent collections and new displays at the Jewish Museum. We now urgently need to raise the remaining £50,000. It would be tragic if this gem of Anglo-Jewish heritage vanished from public view in this country. The acquisition of the lamp would be an excellent way to mark this outstanding object’s 300th birthday this year."

Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the NHMF, said: “Hanukkah lamps are central to Jewish celebrations and the Lindo lamp is particularly special as it is the first one known to have been made in England. It is witness to 300 years of Jewish history in this country and it’s wonderful that the National Heritage Memorial Fund is helping to save it for future generations.”

Andrew Macdonald, Acting Director of The Art Fund, said: “Not only is this lamp historically important, it is also linked to a family who were great patrons of the arts, chiming with The Art Fund’s core purpose as an independent charity dedicated to saving works of art for the nation. We therefore strongly support the Jewish Museum’s bid to acquire the Lindo lamp.”

Janet Davies, Head of Regional Liaison & Purchase Grant Fund V&A Museum, said: ”Competition for Purchase Grant Fund support is intense but there was no hesitation in wishing to support this acquisition as a very fine piece of 18th-century silversmithing of great historical importance and one which has been central to the Jewish Museum’s public displays for 76 years. “

Contact: Dina Wosner on 020 8371 7371 or marketing@jewishmuseum.co.uk

Notes to editors:

The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF)

The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) was set up to save the most outstanding parts of our national heritage, in memory of those who have given their lives for the United Kingdom. It currently receives £10m annual grant-in-aid from the Government.
For more details, please contact Dervish Mertcan, NHMF Press Office, on 020 7591 6102. www.nhmf.org.uk.

The Art Fund

The Art Fund is the UK’s leading independent art charity. It offers grants to help UK museums and galleries enrich their collections; campaigns on behalf of museums and their visitors; and promotes the enjoyment of art. It is entirely funded from public donations and has 80,000 members. Since 1903 the charity has helped museums and galleries all over the UK secure 860,000 works of art for their collections. Recent achievements include: helping secure Titian’s Diana and Actaeon for the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery, London in February 2009 with a grant of £1m; helping secure Anthony d’Offay’s collection, ARTIST ROOMS, for Tate and National Galleries of Scotland in February 2008 with a grant of £1m; and running the ‘Buy a Brushstroke’ public appeal which raised over £550,000 to keep Turner’s Blue Rigi watercolour in the UK. For more information contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit www.artfund.org.

The Art Fund is a Registered Charity No. 209174

MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund

The MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund is a government fund that helps regional museums, record offices and specialist libraries in England and Wales to acquire objects relating to the arts, literature and history. It was established at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in 1881 and continues to be part of its nationwide work. The annual grants budget, currently £900,000, is provided by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). Each year it considers some 250 applications and awards grants to around 100 organisations, enabling acquisitions of around £4m to go ahead. For more information visit the website: www.vam.ac.uk/purchasegrantfund.

Monday 28th March, 2011

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