A new, prestigious museum of Jewish art is scheduled to be opened by 1997 in the heart of Paris.
Paris already has a Museum of Jewish Art, created in 1948 and situated in the northern Montmartre section of the French capital. But that museum has suffered financial straits and a lack of space.
The idea of creating a larger Jewish museum and placing it in a historical Jewish area was broached in 1980 by Leon Abramowicz, an art historian.
The project got official impetus in 1986, when Jack Lang, a Jew who was then minister of culture, got together with the Paris municipality to plan construction of the new museum.
The museum will be housed in the Hotel Saint-Agnan, a XVIIth-century mansion now being renovated. The building is located in the Marais, the historical heart of Paris, which is also the site of the city’s ancient Jewish quarter.
Announcement that the museum would be opened by 1997 was officially made by Paris Mayor Jacques Chirac. Postponement of the museum’s opening has been caused by the high cost of renovation still to be carried out: 195 million francs, about $34 million. The museum, which will have about 36,000 square feet of space, will include a large permanent collection from the existing Jewish museum, as well as a famous Strauss-Rothschild collection of Jewish ritual objects which has until now been in storage in the Museum of the Middle Ages of Cluny, in Paris.
Besides ever-changing temporary exhibitions, the new Jewish museum will include a documentation center and an auditorium.
Jacques Toubon, the current French minister of culture, said the new Jewish museum of art shows “France’s desire to put the culture, artistic expression and history of France’s Jewish communities in their rightful place among France’s museums.”