The Jewish Museum Appoints James S. Snyder as Director

Tuesday, August 15, 2023
The Jewish Museum Appoints James S. Snyder as Director

The Jewish Museum announced the appointment of James S. Snyder as its next Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director. He will start at the Museum in November.

Snyder is widely recognized for his transformative 22-year tenure as the Israel Museum’s Anne and Jerome Fisher Director, where he led the Museum through the most dramatic period of growth since its founding and secured its stature as one of the world’s foremost museums. Under Snyder’s leadership, the Museum more than doubled its annual attendance to nearly one million visitors and increased its endowment more than fivefold to $200 million. He also realized a series of successful initiatives to upgrade and enhance the experience of art and architecture across the Museum’s 20-acres campus, culminating in its comprehensive $100 million, 300,000 square-foot expansion and renewal.

In recent years, the Jewish Museum’s reputation for programmatic excellence has elevated its visibility locally and in the international art community. Its exhibition program has broadened to integrate contemporary art in new ways, presenting Judaica through a modern-day lens, and growing its audiences through its embrace of architecture, fashion, and design. Exploring the breadth of diversity across the global Jewish community has also become an important component of the Museum’s program, along with examining how this diversity resonates with the experience of other communities in the U.S. and worldwide.

“As a highly esteemed leader with deep roots in both the museum and Jewish philanthropic worlds, James embodies the spirit of our mission and is the ideal Director to lead the Jewish Museum at this time,” said Robert A. Pruzan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Museum. “He will help us leverage the impact of our innovative exhibition programming, advance our connections with the Jewish community across the global cultural landscape, and continue our DEAI efforts to be more inclusive across all areas of the Museum. We look forward to welcoming James into the Museum’s family, and take this opportunity to thank Claudia Gould for her 11 years as Director and acknowledge with gratitude her role in fostering the Museum’s growth.  We also want to thank Senior Deputy Director and Susan & Elihu Rose Chief Curator Darsie Alexander for serving as Acting Director during this interim period.”

“The search committee undertook a rigorous and expansive process.  At its conclusion, James stood out as a visionary leader who understands what Jewish identity means today, in its varied expressions and in relation to other cultures,” said Harriet Schleifer, who co-chaired the Board of Trustee’s search committee with fellow Board member Sander Levy. “As a well-known relationship builder, he will grow our engagement with artists, institutions, and communities here in New York and increase our visibility and impact globally.”

“I feel honored to join the Jewish Museum to advance its celebrated history in both the art and Jewish museum worlds,” said Snyder. “In addition to its deep and far-ranging collections, dynamic exhibition programming, and professional expertise, what drew me to the Museum is the opportunity it offers to anchor Jewish world culture in the context of the times and places where it has flourished globally. In so doing, we can lead the way as a model for museums which focus on specific cultures to demonstrate how those cultures resonate with the diversity of communities and audiences around them and foster an understanding of a more interconnected world – advancing a mission that could not be more timely today.”

Since 2019, Snyder has served as Executive Chair of the Jerusalem Foundation, Inc., working closely with the Foundation’s leadership to champion its vision to promote the city’s role as an urban model for communal coexistence across the social, cultural, and economic spectrum and for the benefit of the diverse communities that live and work there.

Jerusalem Foundation Chair, Alan Hassenfeld, said, “We have greatly appreciated James’ leadership in advancing the Foundation’s work in Jerusalem and on behalf of its many and diverse communities. He has been an important part of our progress over these past more than four years, during which we have made significant advances in our mandate to serve our beloved Jerusalem. We wish him all the best in his new role, serving the world Jewish community in ways that resonate with our goals in the Foundation.”

Snyder distinguished himself early in his career at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, including ten years as Deputy Director. During his time at MoMA, Snyder oversaw major capital and programming initiatives, as well as its exhibition program in New York and internationally.

In recognition of his leadership in the arts, Snyder has been awarded the Commendatore dell’Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana (Commander of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity) by the Republic of Italy and the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) of the French Republic. He was awarded the Jerusalem Foundation’s Teddy Kollek Award for Significant Contribution to Jerusalem, and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat conferred on him the title of Honorary Citizen of Jerusalem.

Image : James S. Snyder, Courtesy IMJ, by Elie Posner

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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