9,000 square feet of permanent and changing exhibition space
Spanning thirteen states and three hundred years, the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience’s core and rotating exhibitions explore the diverse relationships, experiences, and environments encountered by Jewish communities in the American South from the Colonial era to today.
Gallery 1: From Immigrants to Southerners
The story of the Southern Jewish experience begins thousands of miles from American shores. Tracing the major migrations of Jews to the American South beginning in the 1700s, this gallery explores how Jewish immigrants journeyed to American ports and navigated into the interior of the South. From establishing stores to synagogues, From Immigrants to Southerners touches on themes including merchant life, social institutions, and religious practice.
Gallery 2: Foundations of Judaism
Foundations of Judaism focuses on the diversity of Jewish beliefs and practices, from holidays and life cycle events to the values that are foundational from Jews from the American South and around the world. This interactive gallery includes an art installation of reproduction stained-glass windows from nearly twenty synagogues across the American South.
Gallery 3: Entering a New Era
The final core gallery investigates Southern Jewish experiences during World War II and the Holocaust, the civil rights movement, suburbanization of the rural American South, and Southern Jews in popular culture. The gallery concludes with a review of Southern Jewish life today and the Community Quilt Interactive, which provides a creative space where visitors can explore their own identity and community while reflecting on the diverse experiences of Jewish communities in the American South.
Special Exhibition Gallery
“Shalom Y’all: A Snapshot of Southern Jewish Life”
Over thirty years ago, the original Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience in Utica, Mississippi, launched an ambitious initiative with project director Vicki Reikes Fox and photographer Bill Aron to capture images of rural and urban Southern Jewish communities. One trip turned into a fourteen-year-project, resulting in a unique time capsule of Southern Jewish life in the 1980s and 1990s.
For the inaugural exhibition in the Special Exhibition Gallery at the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience in New Orleans, Bill Aron and Vicki Reikes Fox returned to this rare collection of photographs and worked with MSJE curator Anna Tucker to create a retrospective exhibition of over forty selections with themes ranging from “Sacred Connections” and “Earning a Living” to “Changing Communities” and “A Sense of Place.”