Looking Back at One Year of the Jewish Museum’s Young Patron Program

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Resonating through the Jewish Museum’s collection of 26,000 objects is the powerful story of continuity — the connections across time and place that have shaped the history of Jewish culture and art for centuries. Continuity is just as important to the Museum itself: It has thrived for more than 110 years thanks to generations of supporters who have recognized the importance of the institution and its mission, and in this past year, we have been very excited see the important role Young Patrons are playing at the Museum.

Now celebrating its first anniversary, the Jewish Museum’s Young Patron Program is a dynamic group for young professionals and art supporters, ages 21-40, interested in art and Jewish culture. Members enjoy the rewarding experience of curated events and programs, such as gallery visits, curator-led exhibition tours, Shabbat dinners, and a calendar of social gatherings.

In our inaugural year, the Young Patron Program has created a cohesive community of more than 130 young professionals who are passionate about celebrating Jewish heritage and gaining a better understanding of art within and outside of the Museum. Looking back at the year of events, we spoke to a few members about some of their most memorable moments and what inspires them to continue their support of the Jewish Museum.

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Last spring, our Young Patrons joined artist Chantal Joffe for a private viewing, reception, and talk about her exhibition Night Self-Portraits at Cheim & Reed. The event coincided with Chantal Joffe’s solo exhibition Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings: Chantal Joffe at the Jewish Museum, a series of 40 portraits of notable 20th century Jewish women.

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Later that summer, Young Patrons traveled to the Hamptons for lunch at the home of a collector, followed by guided tours of the premier contemporary art fair Art Southhampton.

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Coinciding with our fall 2015 exhibitions The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film, Becoming Jewish: Warhol’s Liz and Marilyn, and Masterpieces & Curiosities: Alfred Stieglitz’s The Steerage, the Young Patron Program began a new tradition of Shabbat dinners. The tradition continued this spring with a dinner and private view of Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History and gallery tour of Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernist, led by Assistant Curator Rebecca Shaykin.

Young Patron member Harrison Fischer joined the community because he has always been passionate about furthering Jewish causes and wanted to learn more about art and culture: “I especially love the Shabbat dinners. It is a chance to meet some great people. The Jewish Museum’s members are some of the coolest and most passionate people I have ever interacted with, and they are the reason I keep coming back.”

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For the 25th anniversary of the New York Jewish Film Festival in January, a partnership between the Jewish Museum and Film Society of Lincoln Center, Young Patrons of the Jewish Museum teamed up with the Young Patrons of Lincoln Center and the New Wave Film Society for a private wine reception and screening with Gabriel Lichtmann, director of the film How to Win Enemies.

Earlier this spring, Young Patrons were treated to a special sneak peek of the first major painting retrospective of Tom Wesselmann in New York since the artist’s death in 2004, at Mitchell-Innes & Nash. In a discussion led by Jeffrey Sturges from Tom Wesselmann’s estate, members examined Wesselmann’s role as a great innovator of the American Pop generation. “We learned that Tom Wesselmann was featured in The Harry N. Abrams Family Collection exhibition at the Jewish Museum in 1966,” said Jenna Scheider, who recently joined the Young Patrons program earlier this year. “The fact that the Jewish Museum was interested in promoting awareness of Jewish Pop Artists in the early 1960s, prior to when Wesselmann’s career was at its height, really shows how innovative and forward thinking the Museum curatorial program has been, and remains today.”

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Most recently in conjunction with Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History, Isaac Mizrahi himself led a tour through the exhibition spanning the American fashion designer, artist, and entrepreneur’s prolific three-decade career. For Young Patron Jonathan Silverman, “it was chance to hear a legend talk about the personal meaning of his work. With the Young Patron Program, I can continue to engage my creative side with exclusive events dedicated to art and artists.”

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Throughout the year, Young Patrons also supported the Museum’s special events as host committee members. By joining our event host committees for events such as the Purim Ball After Party, Shabbat dinners, and Vodka Latke, our Young Patron Leadership Circle members have been instrumental in fostering a community of young professionals who are interested in a deeper engagement with the Museum as a cultural touchstone as well as a social hub.

Hillary Reinsberg, co-chair of the Purim Ball After Party, joined as one of the Museum’s first Young Patrons and has been involved since the inception of the program: “I was excited about the idea of a new, official group that was starting from the ground floor, and embodied the Museum’s ideals. I really believe in the Museum’s direction…I admire Director Claudia Gould’s vision, from the addition of Russ & Daughters to the fantastic, boundary pushing exhibitions.”

In the coming year, Young Patrons can look forward to events such as a trip outside of New York City, visits to private collections, and a tour of an artist’s studio. We are also planning to offer several of last year’s most celebrated events, such as the Shabbat dinners, the next one of which is scheduled for November 18.

We thank all of our Young Patrons for their generous support and look forward to continuing the momentum in the year ahead as we develop a community of New Yorkers who will serve the Museum and its legacy for years to come.

To learn more about the Young Patron Program at the Jewish Museum or to join, visit TheJewishMuseum.org/YoungPatrons, join the Young Patrons Facebook group, or contact Jacqueline Spar, Development Coordinator, Major Gifts at YoungPatrons@thejm.org.