The Secret Life of Museum Objects

A man and a woman looking at silver objects in a glass case

One of the most exciting things about working in a museum is the sense of wonder and discovery you experience when uncovering stories behind historic objects.

As curators, we tend to think we know the objects in our museum fairly well, but over the last two years new in-depth research has yielded surprising results and reminded us there will always be new things to learn.

A gold ring with embellishment on the top

The research carried out focused on our Judaica collection which was given the status of Designated Outstanding Collection by the Arts Council England, reflecting its unique nature within the UK and its standing as one the finest Judaica collections in the world. It includes synagogue textiles, illuminated manuscripts and fine ritual silverware.

Put as it were, under a microscope, a number of our most mysterious objects were rigorously researched. Questions around their provenance (when and where they were made) and usage (what makes this object Jewish?) were some of the most pressing questions on our minds.

Decorative silver objects

Now, for the very first time, we are sharing the results of this research through an intervention in our Judaism Gallery. New information is displayed alongside our historic captions so you can directly compare the old information with what current research has uncovered.

A goblet made from a brown wooden shell

It is a core value of the Jewish Museum London to be continually questioning both what we ourselves are doing but also the world around us. Through this new display, we invite you to join us in questioning the status quo and everything we think we already know.

Black text in a circle next to a larger group of black text