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The Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, on Independence Mall in Philadelphia, presents educational programs and experiences that preserve, explore, and celebrate the history of Jews in America. Its purpose is to connect Jews more closely to their heritage and to inspire in people of all backgrounds a greater appreciation for the diversity of the American Jewish experience and the freedoms to which Americans aspire.
The Weitzman will be the preeminent national museum creatively teaching, interpreting, and inspiring dialogue about the American Jewish experience in the context of American history. The Museum will be a force fueling the American spirit of courage and imagination, aspiration and hard work, leadership and service, through active engagement with the stories of American Jewish life and tradition.
Established in 1976, and situated on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History is the only museum in the nation dedicated exclusively to exploring and interpreting the American Jewish experience. The Museum was originally founded by the members of historic Congregation Mikveh Israel, which was established in 1740 and known as the “Synagogue of the American Revolution”.
The Museum has long been a vital component in the cultural life of Philadelphia. During the course of its history, a broad regional audience have been drawn to the Museum’s public programs, while exploring American Jewish identity through lectures, panel discussions, authors’ talks, films, children’s activities, theater, and music.
The Museum has displayed more than a hundred exhibitions in its first three decades-plus of existence. As the repository of the largest collection of Jewish Americana in the world, with more than 30,000 objects, the Museum has developed extensive institutional experience in preservation, conservation and collections management supporting the fulfillment of its mission to preserve the material culture of American Jews.
The Weitzman is proud to be a Smithsonian Affiliate. The Museum has access to the Smithsonian Institution’s collections and resources, permitting it to borrow artifacts from the Smithsonian’s estimated 142-million-piece collection – from colonial Judaic artifacts and historic documents to fine art and objects of contemporary significance – to be shown as part of special exhibitions or to be incorporated into our core exhibition.
This affiliation also allows the Museum to take advantage of the Smithsonian’s educational resources and expertise in the areas of conservation, collections care and exhibit development for both staff training and consultation. The Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History is able to call upon Smithsonian experts to present programs on behalf of the Museum, as has already been done with great success. Our members now have the opportunity to become Smithsonian Affiliate members at a minimal additional cost.
Funding for the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History is supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.