Designing Exhibits at the Jewish Museum

Spotlight Spiel Case

I decided to apply for an internship at the Jewish Museum due to the chance to work with the curatorial department. It is my aspiration to become a Museum Curator and so this opportunity has given me valuable work experience.

As a part of my internship, I have checked the condition of music records, relabelled the shelves in the store, learned how to perform light readings and assisted with the digitisation process of the Museum’s collections. However, the stand out task for me has been exhibition planning.

I have been lucky enough to design two exhibits during my time at the Museum. The first of these was a café display composed of photographs of British Jews at the seaside. I was taught how to use the Museum’s collections database, Adlib, to find the material for the display. After wading through hundreds of pictures, I finally selected twelve photographs to be included. I feel that the ones I chose best display the fun of summer holidays and can inspire people to recollect on their own times at the beach. Once the photos were chosen, I had to write captions for each of them, as well as an introductory text to the whole display.

Seaside exhibition wall text

When everything was approved, it was time to put digital prints of the photographs up in the café (due to the strong natural light in the café only copies can be displayed there). This required deciding on the order I wanted the pictures to be displayed in and then mounting them and putting them in frames. It took time to make them look perfect, but once the pictures were framed they looked even better and I was excited to finally put them up. I had help putting the frames on the wall and once they were all up I felt an overwhelming sense of pride. It is an amazing feeling to know that a project I have worked on can be seen by anyone who comes to visit the Museum.

Cafe gallery display

The second exhibit I worked on was a spotlight case about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. For this, I was able to include real objects, such as a Shofar and a pop-up New Year card, making it different from my previous project. One of the fun things about the spotlight case is that it gives you an opportunity to show objects that may not otherwise be seen by the public. Even members of the Museum’s staff do not know everything that is in the object store and so it is exciting for them to discover what is in there.

As I had done before, my starting point for this project was to search on Adlib for objects relating to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Not all of the objects I selected had images attached to them on the system, so when I found them in the store it was a surprise. For example, I did not know what the fine silk handkerchief looked like until I opened up the drawer it was in and unwrapped it. I instantly knew that I wanted to include it because it is extremely beautiful.

To My Loving Mother hankerchief

Yet again I was required to write a short text about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and caption my objects. One of the most challenging parts of the process of designing the exhibit was making sure everything could fit in the case. Unfortunately, I had to remove a couple of items I was going to use as there was not enough space for them. However, I made sure to include the most interesting and eye-catching objects so I do not feel this badly impacted the display.

My favourite item that I chose for the spotlight case is this floral New Year card. It is from the 1920s and so is nearly one hundred years old. I love the beautiful flowers that cover the front of the card as the colours are so bright and cheerful.

Ceramic Happy New Year

Once again, when the display was finished I felt extremely proud of all my work for the spotlight case and I am very happy with how it turned out.

Spotlight Spiel Case

When I first applied to this internship I had no idea I would be allowed the freedom to create my own exhibits. It means that I can show I am capable of being a curator and will help me immensely when applying for jobs in the future. I have had a fantastic time working at the Jewish Museum and to anyone who is thinking of pursuing a career in curating I highly recommend applying for an internship with the curatorial department!