While we have officially had our new name for over a year, it has been a work in progress to transition from the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington, to the Lillian and Albert Small Capital Jewish Museum. When we began to plan for the museum we were looking to build a different kind of museum, and to design a new and exciting core exhibition.
The new Capital Jewish Museum will showcase the rich history of the Jewish community in DC, how the proximity to power in capital city made this Jewish community different from others in the country, and how this community interacted with other ethnic and religious communities in the Nation’s Capital.
Our goal is to do all this in a way that is different and highly interactive. Our new museum will be a “third space” outside of both the home and traditional religious space, where local families, school groups, teenagers, and visiting tourists can grapple with issues and learn from one another in a non-religious, cultural context. Our exhibits will encourage visitors to think about identity and the spaces around them through a series of hands on exhibits that urge the visitor not only to touch but to interact with other visitors around them. The pictures here demonstrate two ways in which we are thinking about these ideas. The Core Exhibition rendering shows a participation table, where visitors can see different ways they can participate in democracy. The idea is to have a manual and interactive table which is a visual representation of the various ways one can participate in democracy. The rendering of the orientation gallery shows an experience where visitors can learn about our historic 1876 Synagogue, all while putting together puzzle pieces to literally build the community.
We want to provide a space where we can have difficult conversations and learn new ways to connect to each other and the world around us. In this way we hope to create a history museum that is different than any history museum you have been in. We look forward to welcoming visitors mid 2021!