The Newest Spark in the Jewish Community

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On February 2nd of 2011, the Mizel Museum opened its first permanent exhibit to the public.

On February 2nd of 2011, the Mizel Museum opened its first permanent exhibit to the public. The new exhibit called ' 4,000 Year Road Trip: Gathering Sparks' is about the journey of the Jewish culture through time. Located at 400 S. Kearney Street, the museum is a small building, but the space is well used. No corner was overlooked in the creation of this 4,000 year road trip.

 

During the opening weekend celebrations, I attended a Havdalah Celebration at the Mizel Museum. I took a tour of the new exhibit, smelled spices which represent the "sweetness of the day", and listened to music performed by Hal Aqua and The Lost Tribe. A woman from Uzbekistan, Bluma, spoke about how when she a young girl, her family practiced Judaism even though they weren't supposed to. One of the first exhibits was of suitcases depicting items that Jewish immigrants would have brought with them, which showed what the family valued most.

 

The next exhibits covered other biblical stories, such as Noah's Ark. The following rooms showed all the different Jewish holidays. There was Shabbat , which is the most important Jewish holiday, as well as Hanukah, which was represented by a display of menorahs from all over the world. Also in that room were giant spice boxes that held artifacts.

 

Other segments of time depicted the exile of the Jews from Spain, Israel, and Eastern Europe. Representing the Holocaust were portraits drawn by Deborah Howard, which were of child Holocaust survivors drawn in their present form. There were no graphic pictures to represent the Holocaust, which was a nice touch because it was such a dark time, and finding a simple way to show the depth of that time is hard to do.

 

There is also a small library with books on the Jewish culture. Technology really plays a part in this new exhibit. It makes it more interesting for children to interact with history. A 'Spark Bike' which you can ride (it was not in use when I attended) allows you to record and digitalize your ideas and thoughts on how to make the world a better place. iPads featured in this exhibit as interactive tools to help with the understanding of Jewish history. The iPads contain videos about the Jewish Community, Continuity, and Immigration. You can even leave comments about the videos.

 

The director of education at the Mizel Museum, Jan Nadav, is hoping to have kids make digital art in the future. Denver artist, Scott Lyon, did a lot of work on this exhibit. He found a way to repurpose objects the museum already had. Many of the displays are in shadow boxes because Mr. Lyon does shadow box art. Mr. Lyon is not Jewish, so I had the opportunity to ask him "How did working with Jewish art change your perspective as an artist?" He said he was commissioned to make art about something he didn't know about and that it was a "new thing" for him. Mr. Lyon said he had to spend a lot of time learning about his art and he would have to go read books about Jewish traditions before creating the piece.

 

It is interactive and a cool museum for kids. This museum is not really a museum. It is more of an artistic history exhibit. Not everything is behind glass, there are some digitally interactive parts (the iPads and 'Spark Bike'), and there isn't too much reading. This museum is not just for those of the Jewish faith. Anyone can come and enjoy this museum. Their hope is to create a community of cultural understanding. They will have summer camps for ages 3 to 6th graders, with lots of guest artists. For example, in the up coming summer camps, Lost and Found Creation Station will have children finding objects at home that tell a story about them and their families. Go to www.mizelmuseum.org for more information about the museum, the exhibit, and camps.