Jewish Museum London announces Interim Director and future plans

Image of sign over main entrance

  • Frances Jeens appointed as Interim Director of Jewish Museum London
  • Museum to protect its work of countering antisemitism by pausing its exhibition programme and refocusing online, with emphasis on award-winning education offer.
  • Interim Chair Tanya Persey appointed as Lord Young steps down

Jewish Museum London announces its Interim Director, Frances Jeens, and plans to refocus its programme online, with an emphasis on its award-winning education offer. The Museum will work with partner organisations and develop its online learning programme to serve the needs of teachers, families, community groups and mental health charities.

With the closure of the physical museum owing to the COVID-19 virus, the acclaimed exhibitions programme has been temporarily paused. However, with the support of Arts Council England, the Museum will continue to deliver its school programme through its already established online channels and broaden these to increase their reach and impact. This includes launching virtual classrooms, and supporting teachers by delivering Continued Professional Development (CPD) and wellbeing activities. The Jewish Museum reaches over 20,000 students each year, and in the current restrictions schools have reached out to the Museum to request support in teaching these complex subjects.
This follows the Museum’s withdrawal in February from Arts Council England’s National Portfolio to plan for a new business model. In order to put the organisation on a more sustainable financial footing, and due to the added pressure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Museum is also planning a number of redundancies.
Interim Director Frances Jeens has been key to the delivery of the Museum’s Learning programme for over 7 years. Under her leadership, the learning team tripled the number of school visits to the building, and was awarded a prestigious Sandford Award in appreciation of their dedication to providing the highest level of learning experience for both teachers and students.

Additionally, long-standing Chair of the Museum, Lord Young, has stepped down after 10 years, during which the Museum has become a valuable part of London’s cultural offering and has built its award-winning exhibitions and learning programmes. Tanya Persey, Treasurer of the Museum, is serving as Interim Chair until a successor to Lord Young is appointed.

Frances Jeens, Interim Director of Jewish Museum London, said:

“The important work of the museum in countering antisemitism and hatred continues to be as relevant today as it always has been. Since the building was forced to close by COVID-19, schools have called us for immediate support, and so have the care homes we have worked with for years, the families we engage and the interfaith and mental health partner organisations that are working so incredibly hard. The Museum was already preparing a new direction to make the organisation more financially sustainable. In choosing to refocus the work of the Museum on the communities we serve, we have had to make the difficult decision to restructure the organisation, and to make some redundancies. It is a great regret that we cannot retain all our talented staff to deliver the next phase. We continue to seek creative ways in these challenging circumstances to continue our mission, and while the museum building will remain closed for the foreseeable future in line with both government advice and changing audience needs, the museum’s virtual doors remain open. I am grateful to the Board of Trustees for their trust in me to continue and progress our work across communities.”

Tanya Persey, Interim Chair of the Board of Trustees, said:

“The trustees of Jewish Museum London believe that the new engagement model for the Museum, with a greater focus on the learning and engagement programmes, is the best response to the current situation, and will provide the foundation for a resilient and sustainable organisation in the future. As we move to the next phase for the Museum as a digital space, I am pleased to announce that Frances Jeens is our Interim Director. Her track record as senior leadership in the role of Director of Learning and Engagement, combined with her digital technical expertise and fundraising and networking skills, will be essential for the Museum at this time. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Lord Young for his tireless work in support of the Museum following its reopening in Camden in 2010. During his tenure the Museum became widely recognised both for its award-winning exhibitions and its pioneering education programme.”

For further information or images please contact:
David Lasserson
[email protected]
07525 198023


About Jewish Museum London

Our mission at the Jewish Museum London is to surprise, delight and engage all people, irrespective of background and faith, in the history, identity and culture of Jews in Britain. Our exhibitions, events and learning programmes encourage a sense of discovery and aim to provoke questions, challenge prejudice, and encourage understanding.

Since launching our virtual classrooms on April 23rd we’ve taken bookings for 800 students in 3 working days. Our range of online activity including weekly live object talks, Shabbat Quiz and Family activities have engagement total of 8779 since we launched last month.