Education Initiative at the Jewish Museum of Australia

November 17, 2010 Agencies
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Melbourne’s The Jewish Museum of Australia (JMA) has announced its new Adult Education Program as part of a move towards elevating education to one of its core functions…and has discontinued its Melton program.

Rebecca Forgasz and Leah Justin

The Jewish Museum of Australia and The Florence Melton Adult Mini-School, a project of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem have agreed to end their partnership that brought Melton to Melbourne in 1996.This partnership will end next month.

In an internal communication Rebecca Forgasz, newly appointed CEO of The Jewish Museum of Australia said as follows;

“It is not without regret that this decision was made. The quality of the Melton program and the impact it has on students is without question, and we hold the Mini-School, the curriculum developers and, of course, the Hebrew University in the highest regard. Many of us, including me, have learnt a great deal and been inspired by our engagement with Melton. However, it is simply no longer viable for the Museum to operate Melton, and we must forge ahead with an adult education program that is sustainable, builds on our own capacities and resources and is relevant to our audiences”

Dr Yonatan Mirvis, The International Director of The Florence Melton Adult Mini-School added: “We are grateful to the Jewish Museum for having brought Melton to Melbourne and for all the years of a mutually beneficial relationship. The hundreds of Melton graduates in Melbourne bear testimony to the high impact of our mutual endeavor. The Museum has been an outstanding partner with its high quality of education ensuring that Melton in Melbourne has ranked among the best in the world.

The Museum has undertaken an evaluation of its adult education offerings, and now plans to continue with a program of short courses only. Consequently, the Board has decided that they will no longer operate the two-year Melton program.

For recently appointed Museum Director Rebecca Forgasz, education is intrinsic to the Museum’s future. “There is a real thirst for Jewish education in our community. People are looking to connect and engage with Jewish culture, and the Jewish Museum is ideally positioned to address this need. Museums today are not places of static exhibits and dusty old artefacts, but places that promote discussion of ideas and active participation in culture and community. Education is one of the most important ways in which we can fulfil that purpose.”

The decision to focus on a more flexible program of short courses was made in light of feedback received from a survey undertaken earlier this year. JMA Adult Education Coordinator, Leah Justin says, “Now anyone interested in Jewish learning may enrol directly into our Adult Education Program, all to be held at the Jewish Museum. The dedicated teaching faculty and the wide range of courses will continue to stimulate and challenge and we look forward to also offering a range of courses that provide engagement with the Museum’s beautiful and inspiring collection.”

“The Museum has the most wonderful educational resources within its walls: our permanent and temporary exhibitions and our vast and unique collection of art, artefacts and historical documents reflect our stories and identities. The Adult Education Program will provide direct access to these riches, with the guidance of academics, curators and artists. It is a real honour to open our doors in this capacity. ” Rebecca says.

The Museum’s Adult Education Program will be drawing on the expertise and scholarship of Melbourne’s leading scholars and educators. Associate Professor Mark Baker, Director of the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University says, “Our lecturers have always been supportive of the Museum’s Education Program and we look forward to continuing to work with them in a collaborative capacity.”

The 2011 JMA Adult Education Program details will be available next month. Courses start in February 2011.

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