December 7, 2023

New York’s Jewish Museum introduced Monday that its subsequent director could be James S. Snyder, a veteran chief within the artwork world and Jewish neighborhood with greater than 4 many years spent between the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and the Museum of Trendy Artwork in New York. Since 2019, Snyder, 71, has been govt chairman of the Jerusalem Basis, selling town as a logo of cross-cultural coexistence.

Snyder succeeds Claudia Gould, who stepped down because the Jewish Museum’s director in June after 12 years on the helm. Gould, who beforehand led Artists House, a nonprofit gallery in New York, and the Institute of Up to date Artwork in Philadelphia, helped increase the profile of the Jewish Museum with a dynamic program of crossover exhibitions framing artwork, structure, design and vogue with a Jewish angle and Judaica via a recent lens.

The museum’s chief curator, Darsie Alexander, serves as performing director till Snyder begins his new put up in November.

As many establishments are making generational adjustments on the prime, the Jewish Museum — based within the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1904 and the primary culturally-specific establishment of its type within the U.S. — opted for somebody with a confirmed track-record of museum management and deep ties to the Jewish philanthropic world in New York and globally.

“Operating a museum at present is more durable than it’s ever been and James’s expertise is a big asset for us presently,” mentioned Robert A. Pruzan, the museum’s board chairman, who initially approached Snyder to get concepts for potential candidates throughout the museum’s worldwide search and ended up asking if he would take into account the place himself. “James has a really expansive imaginative and prescient of the chance for the museum, aligned with the board.”

During the last 20 years, Pruzan has gotten to know Snyder as he popped up at nearly each occasion within the Jewish neighborhood, together with his affable, gregarious persona. “He has the vitality of a really younger man,” Pruzan mentioned, dismissing any issues about Snyder’s age.

For Snyder, who not too long ago wrote in regards to the position and accountability of museums within the digital age post-Covid for Sapir Journal, the Jewish Museum holds wonderful potential.

“Variety and inclusiveness is how your tradition has resonated over time with different cultures and in your individual contemporaneous second,” Snyder mentioned in a telephone interview. “Claudia’s years elevated the visibility and presence of the Jewish Museum and so they’re actually poised to prepared the ground as a mannequin.” (Among the broadly interesting exhibits of Gould’s period included “New York 1962-1964,” in regards to the making of the tradition capital; “The Hare With Amber Eyes,” based mostly on the saga of the Ephrussi household, celebrated within the best-selling memoir by Edmund de Waal; and “Louise Bourgeois, Freud’s Daughter.”)

Raised in a small city south of Pittsburgh, Snyder began at MoMA as an intern in 1974 contemporary out of Harvard, having studied literature and artwork historical past. He labored in a number of departments through the years, ultimately assigned with the oversight of MoMA’s 1984 enlargement designed by Cesar Pelli, after which Snyder was promoted to deputy director.

In 1997, Snyder moved to Jerusalem as director of the Israel Museum, based in 1965 atop the Hill of Tranquillity as a common establishment with collections of visible artwork and archaeology spanning epochal instances. “Being on the Israel Museum took the modernist that I used to be and made me understand that there’s a story that begins 1,000,000 and a half years in the past, comes to the current and teaches you ways durations and cultures join globally,” Snyder mentioned.

Throughout his 20 years as director, Snyder stewarded a $100 million enlargement and improve of the museum’s 20-acre campus, greater than doubling annual attendance to just about a million guests and growing its endowment to $200 million.

Snyder continued to function the museum’s worldwide president via 2018, when he returned to New York. In 2019, he was appointed govt chairman of the Jerusalem Basis, the place he has been refreshing the donor base and techniques for social, cultural and financial growth within the advanced metropolis that he “grew to know and love in a really huge manner.”

For the Jewish Museum, Snyder’s wealth of credentials was an ideal match. Pruzan mentioned the board isn’t on the lookout for a turnaround.

“We’re actually pleased with the place we’re at present on the curatorial aspect,” Pruzan mentioned. “The chance is to discover how we will play a management position round societal points like antisemitism and exhibit the significance of culturally particular establishments in advancing the dialogue on these matters via our exhibitions and training programming.”

The Jewish Museum is in good monetary form, with an annual working finances of $24 million and an endowment of $114 million. Its annual attendance has grown steadily because the pandemic and is now at 110,000, nonetheless down from a prepandemic variety of 175,000. The museum depends much less on income from guests than many different establishments do, based on Pruzan, noting the significance of Snyder’s prodigious fund-raising abilities.

Snyder has lengthy been concerned with how web site, setting and structure are key elements to a museum’s success, one thing he discovered from his experiences on the Israel Museum. The 1908 mansion on 92nd Avenue and Fifth Avenue, as soon as residence to Felix and Frieda Warburg, the place the Jewish Museum moved in 1947, “speaks powerfully to the museum’s historical past in New York Metropolis,” Snyder mentioned.

“Its location on Museum Mile paves the best way to reaching out uptown to sister museums like El Museo del Barrio, the Studio Museum of Harlem and the Hispanic Society Museum & Library,” Snyder added, “all of that are additionally culturally particular museums with whom collaboration might be an essential a part of the Jewish Museum’s future.”

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