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‘Jews, Money, Myth’ exhibition wins 2019 Museums Change Lives Award

The exhibition at the Jewish Museum London, developed in partnership with the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism at Birkbeck, confronts and debunks deeply held stereotypes surrounding Jews and money.

The Jewish Museum London has won the 2019 Museums Change Lives Award for Jews, Money, Myth, an exhibition developed in partnership with the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism at Birkbeck.

The cutting-edge exhibition reflects on over 2000 years of history, drawing together manuscripts, prints, Jewish ritual and ceremonial objects, art, film, literature and cultural ephemera, from board games and cartoons to costumes and figurines. Exhibits from the museum’s collection are complemented by loans from Europe, North America and Israel. A highlight of the exhibition is Rembrandt van Rijn’s painting, Judas Returning the Thirty Pieces of Silver, 1629, that is rarely seen in the UK. Contemporary and newly commissioned artworks, including an archive-based video piece by Jeremy Deller, reflect on the exhibition’s themes.

Described by the judges as “brave, fascinating and timely”, the exhibition is based on ground-breaking new research as well as community engagement. Due to popular demand, it has been extended for three months until 17 October. 

Anthony Bale, Professor of Medieval Studies at Birkbeck, David Feldman, Professor of History and Director of the Pears Institute, and Dr Marc Volovici, Pears Institute Early Career Fellow, acted as academic advisors for the exhibition.

Professor David Feldman said: “We are delighted that the exhibition has been recognised by the Museum’s Association for its efforts to inspire engagement, reflection and debate, particularly amongst such a strong shortlist of nominees.

“Jews, Money, Myth confronts and debunks the stereotypes of Jews’ connections with money and power that give rise to some of the most deeply rooted anti-Semitic images in circulation.”

Morgan Wadsworth-Boyle, exhibitions curator at the Jewish Museum London said: "Winning the Museums Change Lives Award is a huge honour for us and our partners on this exhibition. Jews, Money, Myth was done in close partnership with the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck.

"We are a small museum and the Museums Change Lives Award will help put us on the map for the wider community and help us create more vital projects in the future."

Moira Sinclair, chief executive of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and one of this year’s judges said: “We are all too aware of the divisions that our society is facing – the ability to see and accommodate difference, to empathise and to find commonality is a real issue.

“It was so heartening to hear, through the judging process, how museums across the country are responding.”

The shortlist for the Museums Change Lives Award featured a range of fascinating projects from Glasgow Women’s Library, the Scottish Maritime Museum, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and Time and Tide Museum. 

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