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2010 Annual Conference:


2010 Annual Conference

Challenge, Change and Creativity: Jewish Museums in a New Era

2010 Conference Program


CAJM's 2010 annual conference took place in Los Angeles from January 31 to February 3, 2010. Gabrielle Tsabag and Lynette Allen served as Co-Chairs, with Tal Gozani as Host Chair.

Los Angeles

  Primary meeting venues were the Skirball Cultural Center and  
  the Museum of Tolerance, as well as the Japanese American
  National Museum. Against the stunning backdrop of the City of
  Angels, there were thought-provoking sess
ions, stimulating
  conversations, visits to two CAJM colleagues, the Los Angeles
  Museum of the Holocaust and the Zimmer Children's Museum,
  and to other major LA cultural destinations: The Getty, Los
  Angeles County Museum of Art, and Fowler Museum at UCLA.

Following an '09 conference innovation, firms serving the museum field participated in a vendor panel and forum that explored trends in the industry. Specialists in master planning, architecture, exhibition design and fabrication, graphic design, media production, content development, and technical support shared their expertise. Here you will find more about our conference keynote speaker, scholar-in-residence, and benefactors, and can get a taste of conference sessions.


CAJM was honored to have as its conference keynote Rabbi David J. Wolpe, head rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California. A leading figure in the Conservative Jewish movement, Wolpe has been named the #1 pulpit Rabbi in America (Newsweek magazine), one of The Forward's Forward 50, and one of the hundred most influential people in Los Angeles (Los Angeles magazine). Author of six books, Rabbi Wolpe's most recent volume is Why Faith Matters, a response to books about atheism and also a recounting of his battle with illness (he has undergone surgery for a brain tumor and chemotherapy for lymphoma). Rabbi Wolpe has taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the University of Judaism (now the American Jewish University), Hunter College and UCLA. He is a regular contributor to New York Jewish Week, the Jerusalem Post, and the Los Angeles Times. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN and CBS This Morning and has been featured in several documentaries on Biblical topics produced by A&E Networks.


Since 1981, Selma Holo has been Director of the Fisher Gallery, now the Fisher Museum of Art of the University of Southern California. Under her leadership, the Museum has grown steadily in reputation and attendance. Its schedule includes regular year-long exhibitions from its renowned permanent collection, as well as changing exhibitions ranging from Old Master artists to contemporary works by local, national and international artists. In her role as head of USC's International Museum Institute for Advanced Studies and Practice, Holo has become increasingly interested in international museology - the study of museums themselves and their influences on the shaping of our culture. She has been actively involved with the American Association of Museums and has taken leadership positions on issues critical to the future of museums around the world. Holo earned MA and Ph.D. degrees in Spanish art history, and she has published and lectured extensively in Spain and Latin America about the future of museums in those regions. Dr. Holo has published and lectured in Spain and Latin America extensively about t he future of museums in those regions. Her list of publications reflect her expertise in Goya, Picasso and Ribera, three of Spain's most significant artists. Her books include Beyond the Prado (1999) Oaxaca at the Crossroads: Managing Memory, Negotiating Change (2004) and, as c o-editor , Beyond the Turnstile: Making the Case for Museums and Sustainable Value (2009). Prior to coming to USC, Holo was Curator of Acquisitions at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, where she assisted Simon between 1977 and 1981 in hisdevelopment of that museum's superb collection of painting and sculpture. These luminaries were among dozens of presenters and workshop leaders who challenged those in attendance with fresh ideas and insights.


CAJM is grateful to the following donors and grantors for their support of the 2010 conference:  Skirball Foundation . David Berg Foundation . Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles . Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles . Mizel Museum . Dr. Catherine Glynn Benkaim . Nextbook . Carol Spinner . Ruby Family Foundation . Peachy and Mark Levy . Susanne and Paul Kester . Consulate General of Israel . Virginia Bayer and Robert Hirt . Rina Scott Cowan . James and Ada Horwich Family Foundation . Jean and Jerry Friedman


Quotations from the Los Angeles conference:

"Jewish museums, like Jews, must have an agenda for the world." (Rabbi David Wolpe)

"Exhibit developers are no longer writing for middle school students. This generation of museum visitors are used to media when and how they want it." (Brian Edwards)

"The [Bloch-Bauer] case had tremendous personal meaning for me, not only because of the family connections, but because, like you, I was helping to tell a story that might have been lost." (E. Randol Schoenberg)

"In the 21st century, boundaries between internal and external, sacred and secular, are going to be blurred. Creativity is the new continuity." (Shawn Landres)

"This generation wants to participate, not just stand up and sit down in shul." (Tiffany Shlain)

"It's not about identity. It's about identification." (Ari Kelman)

"We're not concerned about having the biggest Jewish community, but about having the most vibrant one."(Jaime Walman)

"Site-specific programs that incorporate spectacle and play help to build community, but planning for museum participation must start at the top, with the director." (Aaron Paley)

[Speaking about some Idelsohn Society for Music Preservation's exhibitions] "They're about practice and participation. You get involved. You leave with something." (Josh Kun)

"This generation doesn't want to be pigeon-holed. They prefer interdisciplinary programming and screenings at secular venues." (Peter Stein)

"In some cases, we have deeper relationships with our Twitter followers and Facebook fans than with our members. Real dialogue goes on." (Stacy Lieberman)

"Art history training, which emphasizes attribution and connoisseurship, is just part of the preparation for curatorial work, which has as much to do with practical matters, such as schedules for loading and unloading trucks." (Gabriel Goldstein)

"In advocating for their exhibitions, curators must be something between lawyers and salesmen. They must be leaders of conversations and also responders to the larger Jewish-American conversation." (Norman Kleeblatt)

"Ten key values for museums: being worthy of the public trust, keeping collections at their core, staying relevant, being inclusive, finding a niche in a global society; remaining committed to creativity and experimentation, forging new alliances, providing authentic experiences, generating and disseminating knowledge, and communicating well." (Selma Holo)

[Speaking of controversial situations] "If you ask the wrong question, you get the wrong answer." (Michael Berenbaum)

"What function can cultural works have? They can shift relationships radically - radical like love is radical." (Rhoda Rosen)

"We must bring people together through arts and culture rather than fragment them. One way is through short-term programs that are spontaneous and presented in fresh contexts." (Lori Starr)

"In these challenging times, we can find a model of frugality in first- and second-generation Americans." (Akrmi Yano)

"Strategic planning is a fabulous elixir." (Steven Koblik) "To be sustainable, you must place more emphasis on linking to mission than on the mechanics of any dilemma. Respect past paradigms, but don't be afraid of changing the way you do business." (Charmaine Jefferson)

"If you blow in the wide end of a shofar, not much happens. If you do the opposite, everyone hears." (Cynthia Ozick, paraphrased by David Wolpe)