Arts & Affairs Features

The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU

Photo courtesy of The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU

The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU (JMOF-FIU) is the only museum dedicated to telling the story of more than 250 years of Florida Jewish history, arts and culture, with a growing collection of more than 100,000 items. Housed in the original Art Deco-styled buildings of Congregation Beth Jacob, the first synagogue in Miami Beach, JMOF-FIU presents a vibrant schedule of thought-provoking exhibitions.

The original synagogue was built in 1929, and the second, built in 1936, was designed by Art Deco Architect Henry Hohauser and features 80 stained-glass windows, a copper dome and a marble bimah. The two buildings are joined together by the Bess Myerson Gallery, named after former Miss America, Bess Myerson.

JMOF became part of FIU in 2012, creating a historic partnership that leverages the resources of the museum and FIU to ignite a new era of interdisciplinary education and research. Using the lens of the evolving immigration experience of Jewish people in Florida, JMOF-FIU serves as a forum to promote tolerance, further global understanding and create connections to Jewish culture, history, arts and contemporary civic life for diverse audiences. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, JMOF-FIU has achieved a standard of excellence in its methodology for research, collecting, conservation, archiving, storing and interpreting its holdings.

The museum’s dynamic array of programming includes lectures, workshops, family activities and presentations on topics of Jewish studies worldwide, with international scholars and presenters and local movers and shakers. Popular special events and programs like the South Beach Jewish Walking Tours give visitors an opportunity to see Miami Beach through a unique lens and get an overview of more than 100 years of Jewish history on Miami Beach.

“Arnold Newman: A Retrospective”

“Arnold Newman: A Retrospective” looks at six decades of his photographic portraits. From the 1940s to the early 2000s, Newman photographed many Jewish public figures who have made a significant impact in their respective fields including artists, entertainers, scientists, philosophers and politicians.

Arnold Newman was one of the world’s most prolific, innovative and distinguished portrait photographers. He is considered the “father of environment portraiture,” a style that places its subjects in a carefully composed setting that captures the essence of their work and personality. Each portrait is captioned with personal anecdotes by Newman on the sitting and its famous subject. Using the camera as his tool, Newman viewed his subjects through heart and mind, the result being a very personal and intimate look. 

Newman photographed for many publications, including “Life,” “Harper’s Bazaar,” “Look,” “The New Yorker” and “Holiday.” Early in his career, Newman chose photography as the medium for finding his own direction and self-expression. His images for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) shared the same qualities of immediacy and humanistic sympathy as the photographs of Dorothy Lange and Walker Evans. Newman was given his first solo exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1945, published over 14 books, taught and continued to work until he passed away in 2006.

Portraits in the exhibition include: Yaacov Agam, Shmuel Agnon, Woody Allen, Ehud Barak, Saul Bellow, David Ben-Gurion, Leonard Bernstein, Abe Burrows, Marc Chagall, Gen Moshe Dayan, Abba Eban, Otto Frank, Felix Frankfurter, John Garfield, Chaim Gross, David Halberstam, Isser Harel, Al Hirschfeld, Menashe Kadishman, Louis Kahn, Danny Kaye, Mayor Teddy Kollek, Ibram Lassow, Senator Herbert Lehman, Carlo Levi, Likud Former Prisoners, David Lilianthal, Jacques Lipchitz, Norman Mailer, Stanley Marcus, Golda Meir, Arthur Miller, Zero Mostel, Louise Nevelson, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Dr. Arno Penzias, Abraham Ribicoff, Jerome Robbins, Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Madame Helena Rubinstein, Sacred Object, Shofar and Jerusalem, Jonas Salk, George Segal, Meyer Shapiro, Yeheil Shemi, Moses and Raphael Soyer, Isaac Stern, Alfred Stieglitz, The Wall, Gen. Ezer Weitzman, Simon Wiesenthal, Rabbi Stephen Wise and Yigael Yadin.

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