The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary and the Metropolitan Museum of Art are both centers of art, history, and preservation. Today, a new partnership between these venerable institutions permits select treasures from The Library to be displayed among other key artifacts in several upcoming exhibitions at the Met.
The partnership was the result of an existing JTS-Metropolitan Museum relationship with Evelyn Cohen, a consultant for JTS and a fellow at the Met. Though the collaboration took several years to establish, the end result is one that will benefit a broad range of people outside the traditional library audience. "We are thrilled to share several of The Library's treasures with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, easily one of the world's greatest collections of artistic genius. These three pieces open our culture and history, and illuminate our vibrant tradition," said Dr. David Kraemer, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at JTS.
The first object on loan is the Esslingen Mahzor, the earliest dated Hebrew manuscript from German-speaking lands. Created in 1290 and on display until November 2009, the Mahzor is located in the Met's renovated Gallery for Western European Art From 1050 to 1300, sharing space with other examples of significant manuscripts from Italian, western medieval, Byzantine, and Muslim cultures.
After the Esslingen Mahzor display, the Prato Haggadah (Spain, circa 1300), one of the most significant artifacts from The Library, will take its place in a new Met exhibit, Pen and Parchment: Drawing in the Middle Ages, that runs from June 2 to August 23, 2009. According to the Met, this will be the first museum exhibition to examine, in depth, the achievements of the medieval draftsman. Through some fifty examples created in settings as diverse as a ninth-century monastic scriptorium and the fourteenth-century French court, the presentation will consider the aesthetics, uses, and techniques of medieval drawings.
The final artifact from The Library, Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, will arrive at the Met in November 2009 for a one-year loan and will be displayed in the renovated Art of Medieval Europe gallery. JTS is also supplying images for the Met Museum timeline of art history, to be displayed on their website.
With this partnership, JTS becomes an even larger resource for academics, art lovers, Jewish historians, students, and many more. Tradition suggests that Jewish treasures are not meant to be locked away; that their greatest potential as educational tools is when they can be seen and appreciated by all. The collaboration between JTS and the Met ensures that the tradition lives on.