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Jewish Museum London announces new Chair and ‘Object Lending Library’

  • Nick Viner appointed as Chair of Jewish Museum London
  • Appointment comes as Museum’s digital programming reaches over 32,000 since lockdown
  • New funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to enable the Museum to bring unseen objects out from the collection into a wide range of community spaces.

Nick Viner, Jewish Museum London Chair[9 July 2020; London] Jewish Museum London announces its new Chair, Nick Viner. Nick brings exceptional experience to the organisation from his work in both commercial and charitable organisations. As founding Chief Executive, he oversaw the development of JW3, London’s award-winning Jewish Cultural and Community Centre. He spent 20 years at The Boston Consulting Group, assisting clients around the world on strategy, business development and leadership, and co-founded Circle Sq., a network organisation for people over 50, aimed at harnessing their wisdom and experience. He has also served as a trustee of a number of charities with a strong commitment to education and the arts including Alexander Haus eV, the Institute of Imagination, the Architectural Association, Belsize Square Synagogue and JW3.

Nick Viner’s long-standing predecessor, Lord Young, stepped down in May after 10 years, during which the Museum became a valuable part of London’s cultural offering and built its award-winning exhibitions and learning programmes. Tanya Persey, Treasurer of the Museum, served as Interim Chair during the process of this appointment.

The appointment comes while the physical Museum is closed to the public, and has refocused its programme online with an emphasis on its award-winning education offer, after schools requested ongoing support in teaching religious studies.

While the Museum’s outstanding Designated Collection cannot be physically accessed onsite, a new initiative, the Object Lending Library, will for the first time enable individuals, groups and organisations to borrow an object for a specific purpose and period of time. Thanks to funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Museum will be bringing unseen objects out from the collection into a wide range of community spaces. Community partners such as schools, care homes and places of worship will have the opportunity display and learn from objects, and connect to the Museum and the wider collection, in their own environment.

The scheme will enhance the work done online to continue to engage audiences while the Museum is physically closed. Full digital programming was launched on 25th March, including livestreamed object talks, weekly family sessions, digital activity packs and Virtual Classrooms. The Museum’s online teacher and student portal has seen a 188% increase in visitors compared to the previous year. Overall engagement through virtual and digital programming has been over 32,000 since lockdown began.

The Museum has also undertaken a restructuring programme to put the organisation on a more sustainable financial footing following its departure in January from the Arts Council England National Portfolio, and due to the added pressure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the leadership of Nick Viner and Interim Director Frances Jeens, the Museum will be drawing up plans for a phased reopening, taking into account the safety requirements of its staff, volunteers, audiences, and the intergenerational nature of its work.

Nick Viner, Chair of Jewish Museum London, said:
“With its incredibly diverse collection and amazing archive, alongside its outstanding digital education platform, the Jewish Museum has a key role to play both in the Jewish Community and in the wider world. I am honoured to have been appointed as the new Chair, and very much look forward to working with Fran and her team, and with the Board, to enable the Museum to realise its full potential. Since lockdown began, I have been really impressed by the Museum’s ability to shift seamlessly and expertly towards a virtual environment, and now it is very encouraging that it has received generous funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to bring unseen objects out from the collection into a wide range of community spaces. I believe the Museum has a real opportunity at this time to deepen and broaden its links with the Community, and strengthen its position as a vital resource and source of inspiration.”

Frances Jeens, Interim Director of Jewish Museum London, said:
“We are thrilled to announce Nick’s appointment as our new Chair. His experience both with Jewish institutions and in the commercial sector will be invaluable as we enter a new chapter in the life of the Museum. I would like to thank Tanya Persey for overseeing our successful transition to a fully digital programme during lockdown in her role as Interim Chair. We are excited now to plan for reopening but we are mindful that people of all generations and all faiths come to our building to enjoy and learn, and we cannot reopen our doors until we can ensure everybody’s safety. In the meantime, however, our new Object Lending Library creates a remarkable opportunity for communities to interact with objects from the Museum’s collection daily, in their own spaces. While our audiences cannot yet come to the Museum, we are committed to finding ways for the Museum to come to them.”