Opening Night Address by Board President Gideon Kline

July 27, 2023

Marie-Luise Skibbe, opening night of CHAGALL, Jewish Museum of Australia, 2023.

Good evening to you all. Welcome to the Jewish Museum of Australia: Gandel Centre of Judaica – and this wonderous event – the official opening of CHAGALL.

I would like to thank everyone who has joined us tonight. All our friends, creative practitioners, our Museum team, our board of directors. Welcome. A special welcome to David Southwick MP, and Karine Mauris – French Cultural Attaché from the French Embassy in Australia. Regrettably, Mr John Gandel AC, our steadfast and leading supporter is unable to be here. He and Pauline Gandel wish everyone well. And to Larry and Mark Light, a special welcome.

My name is Gideon Kline and I serve the Museum as its Board President. But tonight, I am the MC…standing for mega censored. Instructions are as follows:

    1. Keep it short
    2. Keep it light
    3. Keep it moving


I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, the Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation. I pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging and recognise  their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities.

Tonight is important for this institution.

With this exhibition we pay tribute to our visionary founding director the late Dr Helen Light AM z’l, who passed away last year, and her inaugural 1995 exhibition Chagall and the Bible – the first in this very place.

I welcome Helen’s family, Larry, Mark and Anna, and friends and hope tonight befits her legacy and great standing in this place and across our community. Her colleague and friend, and our Governor and longest serving director, Zelda Rosenbaum will lead a tribute to Helen at the conclusion of formal proceedings and before we head into the exhibition.

And we gather today in the Dina and Henry Krongold Gallery. Dina passed away recently. She and Henry were founding patrons of the Museum. I pay my respects to her memory and the continued service of her grandson Adam Krongold, who was been on our board for over 10 years.

We will hear next from Noè Harsel, our Acting Museum Director and CEO, about how this exhibition came into being – the vision of our recently retired director, the exceptional Jessica Bram, who also learned the craft with Helen.

I commend the creative leadership that has delivered CHAGALL in all its glory, and the themes and creative journey behind the exhibition. We have been very fortunate to have in our midst the creative powerhouse that is Jade Niklai – our dynamic Exhibition Curator for CHAGALL, ably supported by our curatorial team at the Museum (thank you Mark Themann) and I look forward to hearing from Jade shortly.

And tonight, we unveil the Museum’s first Contemporary Australian Artist Commission by Archibald Prize-winning creative practitioner Yvette Coppersmith. Titled, Carnelian, it is her interpretation and response to Marc Chagall’s story, themes and practice. Yvette will also speak tonight and we welcome you back to the Museum.

And a special mention and thanks to our exhibition partners and supporters and to the many donors and others who give their time and passion to this important institution.

In a time of growing intolerance and rising anti-Semitism, our Museum provides a reason to come together, share ideas and exchange perspectives. A place of learning, creativity and multi-generational experiences, we’re proud to create opportunities that strengthen social cohesion, combat prejudice and share the wonders of our collective similarities and differences – a place to share the Australian Jewish experience.

We are so proud and excited to launch CHAGALL. It gives me great pleasure to invite our Acting Museum Director, Noè Harsel to address you. Noè has led this exhibition’s development and has been with the Museum for over two years. She’s an accomplished arts industry professional and in addition to her countless hours with the Museum, she also finds time to host her own podcasts, mother two boys and Chair Writers Victoria. Please welcome Noè.