National Museum of American Jewish History

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Coordinates: 39°57′01″N 75°08′55″W / 39.950288°N 75.148593°W / 39.950288; -75.148593

National Museum of American Jewish History
National Museum of American Jewish History is located in Philadelphia
National Museum of American Jewish History
Location within Philadelphia
Established1976 (1976)
LocationPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
Coordinates39°57′01″N 75°08′55″W / 39.950288°N 75.148593°W / 39.950288; -75.148593
TypeJewish Museum
Collection size20,000
Visitors126,000 (2011)[1]
DirectorIvy Barsky (CEO)
CuratorJosh Perelman
Public transit accessSEPTA.svg 5th Street: Bus transport SEPTA.svg SEPTA bus: 17, 33, 38, 44, 48
Bus transport Philly PHLASH

The National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) is a Smithsonian-affiliated museum at 101 South Independence Mall East (S. 5th Street) at Market Street in Center City Philadelphia. It was founded in 1976.


The new building in 2013

With its founding in 1976, the then–15,000-square-foot (1,400 m2) museum shared a building with the Congregation Mikveh Israel.[2]

In 2005, it was announced that the museum would be moved to a new building to be built at Fifth Street and Market Street on the Independence Mall. The site was originally owned by CBS' KYW radio and KYW-TV. The project broke ground on September 30, 2007.[3] The 100,000-square-foot (9,300 m2) glass and terra-cotta building was designed by James Polshek and includes an atrium, a 25,000-square-foot (2,300 m2) area for exhibits, a Center for Jewish Education, and a theater.[4] The structural engineer was Leslie E. Robertson Associates.

The project, including endowment, cost $150 million.[5] The opening ceremony was held November 14, 2010 and was attended by over 1,000 people, including Vice President Joe Biden, Mayor Michael Nutter, Governor Ed Rendell, and Rabbi Irving Greenberg.[6] The building opened to the public November 26, 2010.[6]


Exhibits use pieces from the museum's collection which includes over 20,000 objects and ranges from the Colonial period to the present day.[7] Exhibits focus on Jews in America. Professor Jonathan Sarna of Brandeis University led the development of the core exhibit for the museum.

To Bigotry No Sanction: George Washington and Religious Freedom

From June 29 through September 30, 2012, the NMAJH held a special exhibition that featured one of the most important documents pertaining to religious freedom in the United States. The letter was written in 1790 to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, addressing the new country's religious freedom.[8] The letter expressed the new government's commitment for religious freedom and equality for all faiths. The exhibition included numerous artifacts as well as early printings of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.[9]

From the Core Exhibition in 2010[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Salisbury, Stephan (3 December 2012). "Amid struggles, Jewish museum strives for broader appeal". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  2. ^ Rothstein, Edward (2010-11-11). "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Identity". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-16.
  3. ^ "The Time has Come for a Groundbreaking Event". National Museum of American Jewish History. 2007-08-01. Archived from the original on 2010-11-19. Retrieved 2010-11-16. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. ^ Saffron, Inga (2010-11-14). "Building and message at odds". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2010-11-16.
  5. ^ "Spielberg group gives $1M to Jewish history museum". Philadelphia Business Journal. 2008-07-02. Retrieved 2010-11-16.
  6. ^ a b Shapiro, Howard (2010-11-15). "Biden among notables attending opening ceremony of National Museum of American Jewish History". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2010-11-16.
  7. ^ Hurdle, Jon (2008-01-12). "Alongside the History of the Nation, the Story of Jewish Immigrants". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-16.
  8. ^ "Bigotry" on the Jewish Virtual Library website
  9. ^ "To Bigotry No Sanction" on the Museum website

External links[edit]