THE MUSEUM'S EXHIBIT PROGRAM
The primary goal of the exhibition program is the promotion of the Museum's mission, which is to collect, preserve and interpret the Jewish experience in Florida since 1763. Community involvement and tolerance education play fundamental roles in the exhibition program. The Museum seeks to draw in as many participants from both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities as possible and by diversifying the exhibition topics and relating all themes to a multi-cultural audience, the Museum has succeeded in attracting a wide cross section of visitors. The Museum exhibition program offers suitable tolerance education to all age groups and cultural backgrounds by relating thematic cores of each exhibit to universal experiences shared by all peoples.
The types of the exhibits considered must meet the Museum's mission in that they illustrate "the richness and diversity of Jewish life and the unique ways in which Florida Jews influence and are influenced by the historic and cultural dynamics of Florida, the nation, and the world." In the core exhibit, stories reveal the universal immigration story. It speaks of one ethnic group and its challenges to balance retaining cultural identity with the tendency or need to assimilate - a challenge faced by all groups. Similarly a balance is sought in the creation of temporary exhibits to attract a varied audience.
The Jewish Museum presents at least two exhibits at all times: the core exhibit and a temporary one.
The museum's core exhibit, MOSAIC: Jewish Life in Florida, tells the story of nearly 250 years of Jewish life in Florida. The story is presented through four exhibit elements:
A. Timeline Wall of Jewish history in Florida, placed in the larger framework of U.S. Jewish history and world Jewish history.
B. The Mosaic core exhibit, with more than 600 photographs, documents and artifacts and identifying text blocks and captions and a fiber optic map that indicates in periodic years the countries of origin and places of settlement in Florida of Jews.
The exhibit is organized according to the following themes:
1. Who are Florida's Jews? (immigration, origins, early period and post WW II).
2. Life Cycles and Jewish Rituals (birth, daily and weekly rituals; bar/bat mitzvah, weddings, holidays, death and grieving).
3. Building Community (cemeteries, synagogues, Jewish education, organizations, facilities for the elderly, Zionism).
4. Discrimination against Jews.
5. Land of Opportunity (retail, agriculture and ranching, food and beverage industry, banking, politics and law, architects and developers, science and medicine, the arts and sports, boarding houses and hotels, education).
6. Acculturation (settling in, interfaith, speaking out, war, identity).
7. History and Mission of the Museum (research and development, the MOSAIC traveling exhibit, museum planning and development, new acquisitions).
C. Three audio-visual presentations: 1) "Synagogue to Museum," an 18-minute film presentation of Florida Jewish history, the history of the MOSAIC project and the restoration process of the 1936 synagogue that now houses the museum.
2) "Jewish Settlement in Florida," an 18 minute film presentation on four Jewish families from diverse cultural and geographic backgrounds, who made their way to Florida during the last two centuries settled in different parts of Florida and made a living in a new environment while contributing to the State.
3) "L'Chaim: To Life," film that depicts life and holiday cycles of Jewish tradition, created from personal family archival footage.
D. The building itself, a 1936 historic structure with 77 stained glass windows, marble bimah, Art Deco chandeliers and sconces and other architectural details.
E. Then in 2005 the organization purchased three contiguous properties [their leased building (301), the original synagogue next door (311) and the parking lot] and began plans to expand. In 2007, after a one-year restoration, the Museum opened their second space, which housed the first synagogue on Miami Beach and expanded the Museum Store. During 2008, the two historic buildings were connected by a skylighted Bessie’s Bistro for casual dining. The Museum has invested $4 million in restorations/construction of their properties as of 2010.
Temporary exhibition topics are selected that expand on themes in the core exhibit and that relate to all of Florida's population and all peoples. They depict Jewish history, art and culture – sometimes global, and always with a link to Florida. Some are produced by the Museum and some are rentals from other museums. Continue to check with us about what materials we are seeking for future exhibits.
The Museum travels many of its exhibitions (see Traveling Exhibits section).