A new CEO for Melbourne Holocaust Museum

December 5, 2023 by David Marlow
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Following on from its reopening after an extensive redevelopment and rebranding, the Melbourne Holocaust Museum (MHM) has announced that it has appointed Dr Steven Cooke as its new CEO.

Dr Steven Cooke Photo credit: Melbourne Holocaust Museum

Following an extensive search and selection process, the MHM Board has announced the appointment of Dr Cooke, who brings with him over 20 years of managerial experience across the museum and tertiary education sectors. His background includes high-level management roles at important heritage institutions, and leadership within the tertiary education sector, notably
in museum studies postgraduate programs. Steven holds a Ph.D. from the University of Bristol, where his research focused on the history of Holocaust monuments and museums in Britain.

MHM Co-President Mike Debinski said, “Steven’s appointment comes at a crucial time for MHM, especially with the opening of our incredible museum. His in-depth understanding of our institution, and its context – locally, nationally, and internationally – will play a pivotal role in steering MHM through this exciting phase. Welcome Steve!”

Dr Cooke is no stranger to MHM, having contributed to work in various capacities over the last ten years, including co-researching and writing the history of the MHM (then Jewish
Holocaust Centre) in 2015. He co-authored The Interior of Our Memories: A history of Melbourne’s Jewish Holocaust Centre in 2015, providing insights into the development of
the museum. Steven is an Australian delegate to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). He has just been appointed as the 2025 chair of the IHRA Museums and
Memorial Working Group.

This exciting news follows Jayne Josem’s announcement that she will be taking a well-deserved break after over 20 years of service to the museum.

“We would not be where we are today without Jayne’s outstanding leadership. We express our heartfelt gratitude to Jayne and wish her a well-deserved break after
overseeing our comprehensive redevelopment project”, said Debinski.

“Steven recognises the challenges ahead as growing a sustainable and effective organisation becomes all the more important given the recent rise in antisemitism and racism, as well as Holocaust denial and distortion.”

Dr Cooke said, “I would like to congratulate the board, staff, and volunteers of the Melbourne Holocaust Museum on the recent redevelopment and creating a world class museum. In particular, I want to pay tribute to the vision and leadership of Jayne Josem and her work over 20 years. The hope of the Holocaust survivors who founded the museum was that it should be the finest memorial to the victims of antisemitism and racism and we need this message now more than ever. Since 1984, the museum has been a witness to the horrors of the Holocaust, a living testament to the impact that survivors have had in Australia, and played a key role in educating the wider public about the dangers of antisemitism and racism. It’s a privilege to contribute to that work and I’m very much looking forward to joining the team on the next stage of the museum’s now 40 year history.”

Dr Cooke will commence his role as MHM CEO on 22 January 2024.

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