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Jewish Museum showcases an impressive collection of menorahs 

Dating back to the Renaissance, the collection includes menorahs from all over the world.

"Accumulations: Hanukkah Lamps" is part of the Jewish

"Accumulations: Hanukkah Lamps" is part of the Jewish Museum's wider "Scenes from the Collection" display. Photo Credit: Jason Mandella

As Hanukkah nears, the Jewish Museum has amassed more than 80 menorahs from all over the world for its recently launched exhibit "Accumulations: Hanukkah Lamps."

Dating as far back as the Renaissance, the collection contains items from Africa, Europe and Asia, in addition to lamps that are local in origin. 

Arranged according to material, the show features Hanukkah lamps made from copper, tin, lead and clay. 

Made from silicone and stainless steel, Egypt-born American artist Karim Rashid’s series of Hanukkah lamps gives an example of how Judaic designs have evolved across time.

Menorah Memories, a set of eight lamps made from welded steel scraps, is contemporary artist Larry Kagan’s postmodern approach to creating something that pushes past traditional concepts of menorah design.

“The result is something that is so incredibly playful, joyful,” said Susan Braunstein, senior curator at the Jewish Museum. “The pieces have tremendous motion and a dynamic element to them because they incorporate the spirit of the holiday.”

Other exhibition highlights include artist Matheus Staedlein’s silver Hanukkah lamps created in Nuremberg, Germany, during the 18th century and a bronze "Tree of Life" menorah by the French-Russian artist Erté. 

As vast as the exhibit may be, it represents a fraction of the Jewish Museum’s collection of Hanukkah lamps, which amounts to nearly 1,050 pieces.

The exhibit is a part of the museum's wider "Scenes from the Collection" display, which launched in January. Conceived as an innovative way to present its collection of nearly 30,000 items, the third-floor exhibit is presented as distinctive "Scenes": "Constellations," "Masterpieces and Curiosities" and "Personas" are just a few in addition to "Accumulations." With hundreds of artworks and artifacts on display at any one time, at least one individual category changes in subject every six months. 

“A lot of the time museums don’t display all the particular things they have because they tend to focus on their uniqueness,” said Braunstein. “But this time we wanted to show the variation.”

'Accumulations: Hanukkah Lamps' is on view through Feb. 9, 2020, at the Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave., thejewishmuseum.org

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