Wednesday, June 12, 2024
Philly Jewish history museum offers extended free entry.

Philly Jewish history museum offers extended free entry.

Most Prominent American Jewish History Museum Extends Free Admission Program

The most prominent American Jewish history museum is extending a free admission program that began when it reopened following the pandemic. The elimination of ticket fees through at least the end of 2023 reflects a vote of confidence in Philadelphia’s Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, which was fighting to survive three years ago.

From Bankruptcy to Reopening

Confronting a construction debt of $30 million, the museum declared bankruptcy right as COVID-19 hit and shuttered cultural institutions worldwide. However, a large donation from shoe designer Stuart Weitzman the following year allowed the museum to buy back its building and provided it with an eight-figure endowment. When it reopened in May 2022, a $500,000 grant from the Jane and Daniel Och Family Foundation enabled the museum to provide free admission.

Continuation of Free Admission

Thanks to a follow-up grant of $300,000 from the Jane and Daniel Och Family Foundation and a $200,000 donation from the Sofia and Mikhail Segal Foundation, the museum will continue its free admission policy.

Increase in Visitor Numbers

The museum first experimented with free admission during the summer of 2019 and found that the policy increased the number of visitors by 37%. A set of 500 exit interviews conducted by the museum with visitors also revealed that the vast majority of visitors that season were not Jewish. However, during the rest of the year when admission was not free, 75% of museum-goers identified as Jewish.

Rising Attendance Numbers

This year, the museum’s attendance numbers are rising, though they aren’t yet at pre-pandemic levels. In May and June 2023, more than 6,600 people visited the museum. This is an increase from the 3,700 visitors from the museum’s reopening date in May 2022 to the end of June. In May and June of 2019, the museum attracted 8,000 visitors.

Using Museums to Combat Antisemitism

Misha Galperin, the museum’s president and CEO, stated that the free admission policy aims to combat prejudice. Galperin is on the board of governors of the Combat Antisemitism Movement and consulted on the White House strategy to combat antisemitism, which recommends education in museums as a tool to combat anti-Jewish bigotry. He emphasized that tangible connections with stories of real Jews provide an antidote to antisemitism and help cultivate empathy and promote civil discourse.

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About Thaddeus Tran

Meet the incredible Thaddeus Tran, an esteemed author on our blog with a passion for history and heritage. Thaddeus delivers captivating posts that take readers on a journey through time. With his wealth of knowledge and impressive research skills, he offers valuable insights and fascinating stories that shed light on the past and inspire a deeper appreciation for our shared heritage. Follow him to discover the secrets and treasures of history!

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