Melissa Martens Named New Director of Exhibitions at Museum of Jewish Heritage

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Melissa Martens Named New Director of Exhibitions at Museum of Jewish Heritage
Melissa Martens at the opening of the Project Mah Jongg exhibit which she curated. Photo: Melanie Einzig.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust (MJH) announced yesterday that Melissa Martens has been named Director of Collections and Exhibitions. Martens, who has worked at the Museum since 2008, was previously the Senior Curator for Exhibitions and created the widely acclaimed Project Mah Jongg exhibition in 2010.

“Since Melissa arrived, she has distinguished herself as an invaluable colleague, a brilliant and versatile curator, a skillful and insightful manager, and an enthusiastic supporter and promoter of our mission,” said Deputy Director Ivy Barsky.

Martens said, “The Museum—with its rich collections and meaningful location—is an ideal forum in which to explore the richness of Jewish history and heritage. We have an amazing opportunity here to share new cultural stories and perspectives with diverse audiences.”

Before arriving in New York City, Martens was the Curator of the Jewish Museum of Maryland for 10 years, where she curated exhibitions about Jewish department stores, Jewish fashion and beauty, synagogue architecture, and Jewish vacation culture. She has also worked at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, the Newberry Library, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. She has been in the museum and library profession for twenty years, and serves as the Vice-Chair of the board of the Council of American Jewish Museums.

At the Museum of Jewish Heritage, she directed the exhibition The Morgenthaus: A Legacy of Service and curated Project Mah Jongg, which begins its national tour in fall 2011. Her next exhibition is about Emma Lazarus and the Statue of Liberty; it will open on October 26, 2011.

Her recently published articles include “Working Together, Playing Together” for the American Association of Museums Brooking Paper on Creativity in Museums competition, and the exhibition catalog essay; “The Game of a Thousand Wonders,” published in Mah Jongg: Crak, Bam, Dot, by 2wice Arts Foundation, 2010. She has also contributed numerous articles to other catalogs and journals.

The Museum’s exhibitions educate people of all ages and backgrounds about the rich tapestry of Jewish life over the past century—before, during, and after the Holocaust. Current special exhibitions include Last Folio: A Photographic Journey with Yuri Dojc, on view through late summer; Fire in My Heart: The Story of Hannah Senesh, on view through August 7, 2011; and The Morgenthaus: A Legacy of Service, on view through September 5, 2011. It is also home to the award-winning Keeping History Center, an interactive visitor experience, and Andy Goldsworthy’s memorial Garden of Stones. The Museum offers visitors a vibrant public program schedule in its Edmond J. Safra Hall and receives general operating support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

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