James S. Snyder

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James S. Snyder
James S Snyder.jpg
Born1952 (age 66–67)
Alma materHarvard University
OccupationArt historian and International President and Director Emeritus of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Museum career[edit]

Snyder served as the Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum from 1997-2016. In 2017, he became Director Emeritus and International President for the Museum's worldwide activities.[1] In this newly created role, Snyder is spearheading the ongoing development of the Museum's extensive international network of Friends organizations, continuing to build the Museum's relationships with sister institutions and collectors worldwide, and supporting the Museum's leadership in strategic planning, professional staff development, and program planning.

During his tenure, the Museum strengthened its regional and international presence with a series of important loan exhibitions in Jerusalem and traveling exhibitions worldwide; expanded its encyclopedic holdings across all of its collecting areas; developed its network of International Friends organizations to include sixteen countries worldwide; increased annual Museum attendance to nearly one million visitors from 400,000 ten years ago; and grew the Museum’s endowment more than fivefold to $200 million.

Snyder also spearheaded a series of architectural upgrades and enhancements to the Museum, culminating in 2010 with its comprehensive $100-million expansion and renewal by James Carpenter Design Associates and Efrat-Kowalsky Architects, designed to resonate with the Museum’s original architectural plan and to unify the visitor experience throughout the Museum’s 20-acre campus.[2]

Throughout his tenure, Snyder was responsible for the overall direction of the Museum’s curatorial program and organized major exhibitions at the Museum and traveled many exhibitions abroad, extending to North and South America, Europe, and Asia. These have included 50th Anniversary year exhibitions such as A Brief History of Humankind (2015), featuring 14 pivotal objects from across the Museum's collection from prehistoric times through the present day, complemented by signature works from the Museum's contemporary holdings, and Twilight over Berlin: Masterworks from the Nationalgalerie, 1905-1945; and, in recent years, James Turrell: Light Spaces (2014); Dress Codes: Revealing the Jewish Wardrobe (2014); Herod the Great: The King’s Final Journey (2013); A World Apart: Glimpses into the Lives of Hasidic Jews (2012); William Kentridge: Five Themes (2011); Looking for Owners and Orphaned Art (2008), two ground-breaking exhibitions on art looted during World War II; and Surrealism and Beyond (2007), which completed major international tours in 2009 and then again in 2014-15.[3]

Under Snyder's direction, the Museum acquired more than 55,000 individual objects, works of art, and collections. Among the notable works acquired during Snyder's tenure are: in Archaeology, the Renée and Robert Belfer Collection of Ancient Glass and Greek and Roman Antiquity[4] and the Demirjian Family European Bronze Age Collection; in Jewish Art and Life, an illuminated Mishneh Torah of Maimonides, acquired jointly with the Metropolitan Museum of Art (ca. 1457);[5] and the restored 18th Century Tzedek ve-Shalom Synagogue from Paramaribo, Suriname; and, in Fine Arts, Nicolas Poussin’s "Destruction and Sack of the Temple of Jerusalem" (1625); Rembrandt van Rijn’s "St. Peter in Prison" (1631), Gustav Klimt’s "Die Medizin (Kompositionsentwurf)" (1897-1898);[6] Jackson Pollock’s "Horizontal Composition" (1949); the Noel and Harriette Levine Collection of Photography; and Gerhard Richter’s "Abstraktes Bild" (1997); together with acquisitions in contemporary art, including site-specific commissions by such artists as Olafur Eliasson, Anish Kapoor, and Doug and Mike Starn.

From 1986 to 1996, Snyder served as Deputy Director of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. During his tenure, he oversaw the Museum’s $60-million, 350,000-square-foot expansion, which was completed in 1984. He also had significant organizational responsibility for such major international loan exhibitions as Pablo Picasso: A Retrospective (1980) and Henri Matisse: A Retrospective (1992).

Snyder is a graduate of Harvard University, a Loeb Fellow of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, and he holds an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Hebrew Union College.[7] He is married to Tina Davis Snyder, a graphic designer, and they have two children: a daughter, Lily D. Snyder, Assistant Vice President, Private Client Group, Sotheby's, New York; and a son, Daniel D. Snyder, Chief Content Strategist, Boredom Therapy, New York[8] .

Honors and awards[edit]

In 2006, Snyder was awarded the Commendatore dell’Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana (Commander of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity) of the Republic of Italy. In 2010, he received the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) of the French Republic. In 2011, he was awarded the Jerusalem Foundation’s Teddy Kollek Award for Significant Contribution to Jerusalem[9] and, in 2012, he was made an Honorary Citizen of Jerusalem, an honor first awarded to Israel's first President Chaim Weizmann.[10]

Published works[edit]

Snyder co-authored Museum Design: Planning and Building for Art (Oxford University Press) in 1993; and he authored the book Renewed: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem (Israel Museum, Jerusalem) in 2011 and 2015 (revised).


  1. ^ "Robin Pogrebin, "Israel Museum's Director to Make Way for Successor"".
  2. ^ "James Carpenter Design Associates, Inc".
  3. ^ "The Israel Museum Exhibitions".
  4. ^ Ula Ilnytzky,“NY antiquities collection donated to Israel Museum”
  5. ^ Carol Vogel,“The Met and Israel Museum Buy Illuminated Jewish Manuscript Before It’s Auctioned”
  6. ^ Eve M. Khan,“A Klimt Work Redeemed”; the Arturo Schwarz Collection of Dada and Surrealist Art; The New York Times, May 22, 2014
  7. ^ "Hebrew Union College".
  8. ^ "About Outside".
  9. ^ "The Jerusalem Foundation". Archived from the original on 2015-12-22.
  10. ^ "Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat confers title of Honorary Citizen of Jerusalem on Israel Museum Director, James Snyder" ArtDaily. Published June 11, 2012

External links[edit]