Unseen Untold

March 22, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The Sydney Jewish Museum is launching a new temporary exhibition ‘Unseen Untold: Our Curious Collection’ to mark the Sydney Jewish Museum’s 25th anniversary and to celebrate 25 years of collecting.

The Curators have gone behind the scenes, delved into the archive and will showcase 25 never-before-seen precious and quirky objects, each with a unique story.

The exhibition will be launched on March 28 and will run to October 21.



The Sydney Jewish Museum’s collection of 9,000 artefacts lies at the heart of the institution, and shapes and informs its exhibitions, research and educational and public programs. However, only a small fraction of this material is on display at any one time.

The Museum’s Curators Roslyn Sugarman, Shannon Biederman and Rachel Mensforth are taking the opportunity to lift the lid on the incredibly rich archive that they work with every day, and delight visitors in an exclusive peek-in. They will be revealing some undiscussed, unexplored, unique and unusual stories that are housed within the collection.

The Collection

The Sydney Jewish Museum’s collection began with the Australian Association of Holocaust Survivors. They canvassed their members, looking for objects to form the new museum in the early 1990s. Each item they accessioned into the collection became a touchstone to an individual’s story. From its humble beginnings, the collection has grown beyond the survivor community to include a significant number of objects relating to Judaism and Australian Jewish history.

The collection has a diverse range of objects, documents, photographs, memorabilia and testimony. Whilst there is a Collection Policy to guide the curators, it is not an exact science; more often than not the curators find themselves overlooking artistic aesthetics or rarity, seeking instead the story of the item – that which transforms an inanimate object into a conduit of narrative.

The Museum’s Collecting Campaign

As the window of opportunity is diminishing for collecting undiscovered material from Holocaust survivors and their descendants, the Sydney Jewish Museum is embarking on a collecting campaign. Roslyn Sugarman, Head Curator says “We believe there is still an abundance of material in community hands at risk of remaining undiscovered, and our imperative is to collect now”.

One of the core functions of the Museum is to preserve material culture, stories and histories for future generations. It is the collection that drives exhibitions, research, and educational and public programs.

Prepare to be moved, provoked and enlightened.
Unseen Untold: Our Curious Collection will be launched on Wednesday 28 March and will be open until 21 October 2018.

Entry to the exhibition is included in the general Museum admission fee.

Almost 40 years after Edgar Boehm and his family escaped Germany for Shanghai and later migrated to Australia, he presented his new son-in-law with an unusual, yet meaningful wedding gift: a pair of little red shoes.
For the Boehm family, it would seem that humble footwear was a symbol of something entirely more profound: Survival of the Holocaust, the founding of a family and a new beginning.


The Amazing Mr. Rooklyn sawed people in half, stretched ladies and read minds. Once he predicted the front page headlines of the major Sydney newspapers. The prediction was signed by the lord mayor and sealed in dough and baked; the loaf of bread was displayed in a department store window under guard for two days.
His prediction was correct.


The sketchbook of a Presbyterian Minister, known to his fellow Dutch Underground operatives as ‘the Fox’. This is a story of daring and resistance; of an extraordinary man who refused to look the other way. He spent two years in hiding with his young family in tow. This was the life and times and of Kees Korndorffer.


Olympic Torch from the infamous 1972 Munich Olympic Games; the first held in Germany since 1936, when Adolf Hitler used the event to promote his ideas of racial supremacy on the world stage. On the morning of September 5 1972, eight Palestinian terrorists stormed into the Olympic village killing two Israeli Olympic team members and taking nine hostages.

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