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Behind-the-Scenes at the Jewish Museum: A Curatorial Intern

A group of people climbing up ladders in front of a colourful wall

My four month part-time Curatorial Internship at the Jewish Museum encompassed a wide range of activities including (but not restricted to) research, collections care and exhibition preparation.

During my first week, I helped with final preparations for the current show Jews, Money, Myth including video transcriptions and preparing objects for display. We then got right into mounting the show which involved installing loaned objects with couriers, as well as the museum’s own works.

I was thrilled to be handed a power drill and was given the honour of closing several display cases.

This was my first sojourn into the world of practical curatorial practice. I was also responsible for evaluating the feedback for the exhibition, which was interesting for me as a young curator, as I was able to see how visitors took in the message of the exhibition.

Further, I gleaned insight into how visitors experienced the displays and objects, how these effected the outcomes of their visit, what the strongest takeaways were for them and crucially, how different visitors regarded the ‘Myth’ itself.

Our next project was the install of the Great British Jews display which celebrates the diverse contributions of British Jews to society.

My tasks for this project were as varied as the achievements and individuals represented; I painted the walls, mounted exhibits for display and assembled interactive objects.

A group of people climbing up ladders in front of a colourful wall

In between these installations, I spent time researching for various upcoming exhibitions.

A woman assembling a wooden item with a screwdriver

I also prepared a Spotlight display case centered on Nina Salaman, a celebrated Hebrew Scholar and Zionist, inspired by the beautiful portrait of her hanging in the museum stairwell.

It was painted by Solomon J. Solomon, who was co-currently the subject of my MA dissertation at the Courtauld Institute of Art.

A painting of a woman in a blue dress

We had several of Salaman’s books in the collection, and the case was positioned with a view to the portrait.

It was exciting to have access to the museum’s collection relating to the specificities of my own research, and to bring a small part of that into a museum display.

A glass case with three books inside it

In my last weeks, I have been preparing a photographic display for the café on ‘Jews on Holiday’ conceding with the summer holidays selecting images from a gamut of time periods, geographic locations and social contexts.

The photographs speak not only to Jewish history in Britain, but also to socio-political and cultural changes in the Western world. I have also been helping with collection photography.

Overall, my experience was overwhelmingly positive. The curatorial staff are all so encouraging and knowledgeable.

I really enjoyed the hands-on experience of object care and research, display installation and exhibition preparation ahead of my new role as a collections assistant in Tel Aviv.