After the recent and very successful opening of our latest exhibition “It’s a Family Affair”, I decided to have a chat with our Curator, who was of course the driving force behind it, and see how she felt now that it is up and running.
Alex explained to me that she wanted to demonstrate the diversity of the Jewish community in this exhibition. After all, the community is made up of individual families and individual people. This is of course true of all minority community groups.
With this in mind, she chose nine families (who are referred to in our collections or archives) to represent different parts of the Jewish story. Each family came from a different part of the world, for a different reason to settle in Manchester. They had various levels of religious observance, different political beliefs and did not all share the same social standing.
Wherever possible contact was made with members of the families either still living in Manchester or in other parts of Britain. This made it possible to find out more details and even to borrow or acquire objects to use in the exhibition. Our Curator found this was a really enjoyable exercise as she was truly engaging with the community, as these families as much a part of the present they are of the past.
On the opening night Friends, Volunteers and supporters were joined by individuals and families who had helped with the research. The Alliance family were not only represented by members living in Manchester, but also by relatives who happened to be visiting from Los Angeles. It was a very lively crowd.
Our Curator normally tries to avoid making public speeches but as our new CEO had only just joined us, she had no choice but to introduce the exhibition herself. She overcame her nerves, and delivered the introduction with great authority and charm, and would now be willing to tackle such a challenge again.
Refreshments were served once the exhibition was declared open. To celebrate the first appearance of summer we supplied fruity jugs of Pimms and lemonade and cream cakes. We threw open the doors to the exhibition room and let the evening summer air circulate around.
The curator felt that the exhibition was very well received and hopes it will translate into positive visitor figures over the next 6 months.