– Museum to leverage the power of art and history to foster a message of shared values, education, and dignity –
Portland, Oregon (June 7, 2017) – The Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (OJMCHE) is celebrating the grand opening of its new location in the heart of the Pearl District in Northwest Portland. The expanded facility will allow the museum to reach new audiences while using the Jewish lens to teach new generations the history of the Holocaust, discrimination in Oregon, and about Oregon Jewish life while fostering a message of shared values, education, and dignity.
”Today our work matters more than ever. Whether we are teaching students why it is important to resist injustice and to support their peers in need, or creating exhibits about discrimination, the Holocaust, and the Oregon Jewish experience for our new museum, we believe strongly in the power of education and in the inspiration of creativity,” said Judy Margles, OJMCHE Executive Director. “At OJMCHE we teach how to recognize the roots of hate, how to instill values of inclusion and respect, and how to participate in an inclusive, vibrant democracy built on understanding and embracing differences.”
The move to Portland’s North Park Blocks doubles the museum’s footprint to the current 15,000 square feet and places OJMCHE in the heart of a district rich in cultural and arts-based institutions. The expanded facilities for OJMCHE include galleries for nationally and internationally touring exhibitions and space for core exhibitions.
“The grand opening of the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education comes at a poignant time,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. “The horrific event on our MAX train on May 26, in which two people were killed and one seriously injured, has torn through our community’s heart and been a cause of great reflection.
“It’s my hope we can learn from our past while underscoring the need to reject hatred and violence in all forms,” Wheeler continued. “It is institutions like this that will help us teach new generations about the need to uphold democratic values and to foster dignity and understanding.”
The museum’s new space also includes a 100-seat auditorium, gift shop, and café with Jewish inspired fare. Most importantly, the expanded footprint allows the museum to better serve its educational mission, which includes Holocaust education and leading tours of the Oregon Holocaust Memorial in Portland’s historic Washington Park.
Successful Community Fundraising Campaign
When the space, the former location of the Museum of Contemporary Craft, came on the market in the spring of 2016, a visionary group of 30 OJMCHE supporters raised $5 million over the course of 45 days, which provided the necessary capital for OJMCHE to purchase its new home from Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA). The fundraising effort was led by two foundational $1 million gifts for the building purchase, from Renee and Irving Holzman Leonard and Lois Schnitzer and another $1 million gift from the Harold & Arlene Schnitzer Family Fund of OJCF/Arlene Schnitzer and Jordan Schnitzer to fund OJMCHE’s building endowment.
On July 6, 2016, OJMCHE announced the purchase of the building and the launch of community capital campaign, which includes funding for core exhibitions, and operating support for a total campaign of $7.5 million. As of the opening of the new facility, the campaign has raised $7.15 million with over 400 donors to date.
The Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education is located at 724 NW Davis Street in Portland. OJMCHE opens to the public on Sunday, June 11, 12:00-4:00 p.m. Admission is free for the day. Regular exhibition schedule begins on Tuesday, June 13, Tuesday–Friday, 11am-5pm, Saturday and Sunday, Noon-5pm.
Four Grand Opening Exhibits
As a part of the grand opening, the inaugural exhibition features the work of internationally celebrated Russian Jewish artist Grisha Bruskin. ALEFBET: The Alphabet of Memory features visually stunning large-scale tapestries alongside the artist’s preparatory drawings and related gouache paintings. The exhibition of this landmark body of work marks the first North American appearance of the exhibit. “The decision to open with work of this importance clearly articulates Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education’s new role in the artistic and cultural exploration of Jewishness on a national and international level,” said Bruce Guenther, curator of OJMCHE’s inaugural year of exhibitions.
OJMCHE is also unveiling three core exhibitions that anchor the museum: Discrimination and Resistance, An Oregon Primer, curator Janice Dilg, which identifies discrimination as a tool used to affect varied groups of people over the history of this region; The Holocaust, An Oregon Perspective, curator April Slabosheski, OJMCHE Holocaust educator, a history of the Holocaust that employs the stories of Oregon survivors; and Oregon Jewish Stories, curator Anne Levant Prahl, OJMCHE curator of collections, that examines Oregon Jewish life and the historical influences of the broader racial landscape that made a distinctive Jewish identity possible.
New Lefty’s Café in Portland’s North Park Blocks
The museum is proud to open with Lefty’s Café, which will serve Jewish pastries, sandwiches and small bites, along with Portland roaster Nossa Familia coffee. Local cook, author and teacher Harriet Fasenfest, formerly of Groundswell Café, Harriet’s Eat Now, and Bertie Lou’s diner has designed the menu, coordinated the locally sourced products, and will oversee the café. Fasenfest is a Portland cook, gardener, food preserver, householder, and backyard economist. The café is among many named spaces in the museum and the Rosemarie F. Rosenfeld Family named it in memory of Lloyd “Lefty” Rosenfeld.
Collections and Archives
OJMCHE holds the largest existing collection documenting the experiences of Oregon Jews. Included are major collections of organizational records, family papers, manuscript collections, photographs, and ephemeral materials dating from 1850 to the present. In addition OJMCHE maintains the communal history of 165 years of Jewish life in Oregon in the form of audio and video oral history interviews. In 2014 the Oregon Jewish Museum and the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center merged to become the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education. A rich collection of Holocaust survivor materials entered the museum collection, including 100 oral history interviews of survivors and the American soldiers who helped liberate the concentration camps, their personal papers and photographs of the camps and the survivor’s lives once they resettled in Oregon.
About Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education
The mission of the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education is to interpret the Oregon Jewish experience, explore the lessons of the Holocaust and foster intercultural conversations. The Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education features, along with core exhibitions, national and international changing exhibitions that showcase Jewish contributions to world culture and ideas, issues of Jewish identity and the forces of prejudice. OJMCHE also offers programs, films, lectures, and concerts covering a wide range of topics relating to Jewish art, culture, and heritage, which stimulate dialogue about identity, culture, and assimilation. Education programs embrace the Jewish experience and explore the lessons of the Holocaust. The organization is the steward of the Oregon Holocaust Memorial, located in Washington Park, and of the Archives and Artifact Collection documenting Oregon Jewish life. Tours of the Oregon Holocaust Memorial are free and available by appointment. For more information, visit www.ojmche.org, facebook.com/OregonJewishMuseum, twitter.com/ORJewishMuseum, instagram.com/_ojmche, soundcloud.com/oregonjewishmuseum and flickr.com/photos/ojmche/. #NewHome #OJMCHE #OpeningDay