A Love Letter to Help You Imagine Your Home as a Museum

May 10, 2020

After weeks of isolation and as the weather cools, I wonder if you are missing the magic of museums as much as me? The layering of artworks, objects and stories; the promise of being immersed and excited.

I love the idea that, as we wait for these worlds to reopen, we’ve the chance to look at our private spaces anew and imagine our homes as museums filled with mementos, personal and priceless.

And so this week’s Love Letter – penned by our team – celebrates Judaica, the excellent and everyday relics found in Jewish homes. I hope it helps you feel inspired while inside.

Jessica Bram
Director & CEO

Conjuring Your Museum

To help you envision your home as a museum, we’ve curated a selection of Judaica you may find familiar – or fascinating.

Amulet Holder: Inscribed with the words ‘the name of God,’ this silver object served as a talisman. Jews have used amulets for centuries to attract good and repel evil; do you have any good luck charms at home?

Havdalah Set: Havdalah refers to the ceremony at the end of Shabbat that separates the holy day from those that follow. It is a multi-sensory experience of fire, spices and wine, hence the tower, candlestick holder and cup in Mary-Lou Pittard’s magnificent set.

Yahrzeit Glasses: This piece consists of six Yahrzeit vessels, which house candles lit in memory of the dead. Sandy Saxon created it to explore rituals that relate to death, and her mother’s passing on the day before Yom Kippur. When and why do you light candles in your home?

Mezuzot: On this work, Iris Saar Isaacs writes: ‘The mezuzah is placed on the threshold of the Jewish home, differentiating it from the outside world. Entry ways are ambiguous and embody opposites: open and closed, inside and outside, security and vulnerability. These mezuzot question the meaning of home.’

Yad: A pointer used to follow text during a Torah reading, this yad was crafted by Edith Fishel for our Australian Contemporary Design in Jewish Ceremony I, II and III exhibition series. Might you have a special ceramic in your home?

Caring For Your Treasures

This time is ripe for rediscovering treasures. If you’re Jewish, these may include the above as well as ketubot and siddurim; travel documents and photographs; kiddush cups and tallilot. To care for these, we suggest:

Being gentle. Enjoy and recount the stories of each object, but don’t overly handle. Make copies of documents and photographs instead of displaying originals.

A stable environment. Historical objects will last longer when kept in a clean, well-ventilated and balanced space. Cold or hot temperatures and direct light will cause stress to fragile or composite objects – and, in turn, fading, distortion or breakage.

Cleaning carefully. You may be concerned about tarnish on your chanukiot, but it is important not to clean or polish too often or use harsh abrasives or chemicals.

Contacting us. We can offer advice on how to keep historical artefacts, recommend storage materials, and connect you with accredited conservators if required.

Share a Shelfie

Once you’ve taken a moment to marvel at and care for the objects in your ‘museum,’ share them with us. Snap a pic and email it to us or post it Instagram with the hashtag #jewmushelfie and a line about why it’s important to you, and we’ll repost. Together we can inspire hope and resilience during this time of isolation.