The Museum: The Form of Art or Judaism?

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Course description

Term:  First semester (October 10, 2021 – January 14, 2022)

Lecturer: Prof. Maya Balakirsky Katz

Type:  Online (zoom) lecture accompanied by power point presentations; the course site available on moodle

Language of instruction: English



Jewish life is on exhibit in hundreds of museums around the world.  The modern institution of the museum has played a significant role in our understanding of Jewish history, religion, and culture.  The museum mediates the Jewish story through its own historical context.  The very notion of “Jewish culture” relies on the rise and development of modern museums devoted to organizing Jewish life into material and visual categories. 

The course explores the vast and complex Jewish visual tradition preserved, constructed, and contested by museums in Israel, Europe, and America.


The students will gain an understanding of the various meanings that Jewish objects assume in the process of public display. They will gain an understanding of the importance of the visual image and the material experience to historical analysis.

Teaching and Learning Method:

The course encourages critical analytic skills as they apply to the disciplines of Jewish studies and visual culture.  The students gain familiarity with seminal studies on museology and Jewish visual culture.  They learn how to build museum skills and writing skills through multiple stages.

Students will be expected to write an analysis of an art museum as a meta-object that collects, preserves, and exhibits art using the analytic and historical skills that will be developed in the course. The essay length: 5-7 pages.



Tuesday 10:00-11:30

12.10. / 19.10 / 26.10 / 2.11 / 9.11 / 16.11 / 23.11 / 30. 11 / 7.12 / 14.12 (no class)/ 21.12 / 28.12 /

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