Dr. Bernard Heller Museum

About the Museum

The Dr. Bernard Heller Museum in New York is at the forefront of exhibiting the creativity of contemporary artists of all faiths exploring Jewish identity, history, culture, and experience through exhibitions, educational programs, and publications that interpret core Jewish values, texts, and beliefs, foster a deeper appreciation for Jewish heritage, and advance multiethnic and interfaith understanding. It is the leading generator of traveling exhibitions of Jewish themes to venues throughout North America and around the world.

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Current Exhibitions

Alan Falk, Echad - One, 2017, Oil on canvas; 24" x 18"
January 26 - May 18, 2023

Tzedek Boxes: Justice Shall You Pursue

Contemporary artists offer their vision for the Tzedek box, a new Jewish ceremonial object for a new ritual aimed at encouraging us to answer the Jewish call for justice. When we complete a meaningful act of social justice, we write a diary entry about the experience and insert it into a Tzedek Box. This ritual regularly prompts us to reflect on what we have learned -- and what we still need to do -- as we seek to build a more just world. Once a year on Yom HaTzedek, we open the box and review its contents as a form of sacred accountability.

Heller Museum One Nation
January 26 - July 2, 2023

One Nation

Contemporary artists illuminate the diverse and vibrant identities comprising American society and express their aspirations for equity, inclusion, and justice.

Current Exhibitions

Alan Falk, Echad - One, 2017, Oil on canvas; 24" x 18"
January 26 - May 18, 2023

Tzedek Boxes: Justice Shall You Pursue

Contemporary artists offer their vision for the Tzedek box, a new Jewish ceremonial object for a new ritual aimed at encouraging us to answer the Jewish call for justice. When we complete a meaningful act of social justice, we write a diary entry about the experience and insert it into a Tzedek Box. This ritual regularly prompts us to reflect on what we have learned -- and what we still need to do -- as we seek to build a more just world. Once a year on Yom HaTzedek, we open the box and review its contents as a form of sacred accountability.

Upcoming Exhibitions

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Heller Museum Frank Stella Chad Gadya

Frank Stella: Had Gadya September 7, 2023 - March 1, 2024

Inspired by El Lissitzky's 1919 illustrations of the Passover song "Had Gadya," Frank Stella embarked on a two-year process of creating the vivid abstractions of this print series using a combination of various printmaking techniques – lithography, linoleum block, silkscreen, and rubber relief with collage elements and hand-coloring.

Heller Museum Haggadah

THE HAGGADAH: January through June 2024

The Passover Haggadah has inspired artists through the centuries up to our own day. This exhibition features illustrated Haggadot from the collections of the Heller Museum and Klau Library in New York.

Traveling Exhibitions

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Holy Sparks: Celebrating 50 Years of Women in the Rabbinate

Illuminating the creativity, commitment, and vision of 24 women rabbis who were “firsts” in their time in portraits by 24 leading contemporary Jewish women artists.

TERRA inFIRMA

An art exhibition that focuses on climate change and global warming through the lens of Jewish values and contemporary social activism. (Aileen Bassis. Submerged City: Manhattan, 2018.)

HOME(LESS)

Forty contemporary artists explore the meaning of home and the loss of home in works reflecting personal experience, historical and contemporary events, cultural diversity, the current immigration and refugee crises, and the universal human condition.

Heller Museum Ben Shahn

From the Collection: Artist Ben Shahn

Sigmund R. Balka gifted the Heller Museum with an encyclopedic survey of the major European and American Jewish artists and themes of Jewish art created during the 19th and 20th centuries. The collection of over 200 works represents the creativity of leading Jewish artists, including this work by Ben Shahn, created for the U.S. War Production Board, alerting the American public to the dangers of the Nazi-collaborationist Vichy regime in France.

Museum Information


As a university/seminary museum, the Heller Museum’s mission is to:

  • Showcase the creativity of contemporary artists of all faiths exploring Jewish identity, history, culture, and current issues;
  • Feature exhibitions and programs that interpret core Jewish values, texts, and beliefs and that foster a deeper public education regarding Jewish heritage;
  • Enrich the academic and professional training of students and serve as a resource for faculty;
  • Offer traveling exhibitions and professional museum guidance to synagogues, museums, and other Jewish cultural venues throughout North America.

Since its founding in 1984 as the Joseph Gallery under the leadership of Reva Godlove Kirschberg, z”l, the museum expanded to become the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum and was dedicated as the Dr. Bernard Heller Museum on September 6, 2018 with a naming gift from the Dr. Bernard Heller Foundation. The Museum has mounted over 150 exhibitions at our New York campus including seminal shows for emerging artists; surveys of leading mid-career and elder artists; cutting-edge exhibitions illuminating Jewish issues, including contemporary artistic responses to the Holocaust, the history of African-American and Jewish relations, the impact of family violence reflected in the works of contemporary Israeli and American women artists, the sexuality spectrum, home and homelessness, and the current environmental crisis; landmark exhibitions establishing new directions for contemporary Jewish ceremonial art; group exhibitions reflecting new interpretations of Biblical text; and exhibitions of significant private collections, reflecting Jewish identity and consciousness, which have advanced the definition of Jewish art in the 20th century.

It has published scores of exhibition catalogs that are accessible online and preserved in major art museums and university libraries worldwide. The Museum has organized more than thirty traveling exhibitions that are presented in Jewish museums, university art galleries, synagogues, and community centers that reach communities throughout North America and beyond each year. The Museum has developed an art collection of over 2,500 works spanning the 20th and 21st centuries. Docents lead adult and school groups throughout the year, and an internship program mentors highly qualified high school, college, and graduate students. During the course of the past 38 years, the Museum has offered powerful learning experiences for over a million visitors to our museum and to our traveling exhibitions.

The Museum’s exhibitions and publications are supported by George, z”l, and Mildred Weissman and presented by the Irma L. and Abram S. Croll Center for Jewish Learning and Culture.

The Museum is committed to educating the general public as well as the faculty, students, and staff of the College-Institute. It presents an array of cultural and educational programs, organized in conjunction with exhibitions, which disseminate Jewish history, culture, contemporary creativity, and foster interfaith and multicultural understanding. The Museum welcomes students and instructors from a broad spectrum of Jewish, public, and parochial schools, who benefit from customized docent-led tours of the Museum, as well as opportunities to meet with HUC-JIR faculty and students, attend student recitals, and visit the College-Institute’s Petrie Synagogue and Klau Library. The Museum seeks to strengthen audience development and attract diverse visitors, including school and adult groups, Jewish lay and professional leaders, interseminary students, the arts community, and the general public.

This archive features exhibitions presented in recent years, many of which are currently traveling to other museum venues, which explore the creativity of contemporary artists of all faiths exploring Jewish identity, history, culture, and experience; interpret core Jewish values, texts, and beliefs and that foster a deeper appreciation for Jewish heritage; provide a forum for the exploration of the role of the arts as an expression of Jewish spirituality; highlight the creativity of contemporary Israeli artists and strengthen cultural ties between North America and Israel; showcase treasures of the College-Institute’s library, archives, and museum collections; and celebrate the important role played by collectors in the development of Jewish art and museums.

The Heller Museum offers over 20 traveling exhibitions, originally presented at our Museum or curated on specific themes from our permanent collection, which feature contemporary and 20th-century artists and include 30 to 50 works of various sizes, wall texts, and labels.

Loans for these traveling exhibitions are contracted with a $500 registrar’s fee and require that the borrowing venue cover the costs of round-trip shipping and insurance, and acknowledge in all digital, print, and publicity materials that the exhibition comes from the Dr. Bernard Heller Museum at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York.

Please contact Nancy Mantell, Curator for Traveling Exhibitions, at 212-824-2218 or nmantell@huc.edu

Guiding the Heller Museum are:

  • Director Jean Bloch Rosensaft
  • Curator Emerita Laura Kruger
  • Co-Curator Nancy H. Mantell, Ph.D.
  • Co-Curator Phyllis Freedman
  • Assistant Curator Susan H. Picker, Ph.D.
  • Archivist Susan Rosenstein
  • Research Director Rose Starr, Ph.D.
  • Museum Communications Coordinator Eleanor Berman
  • Ellen Rosenbush, Curatorial Assistant

The Museum has developed an art collection of over 2,500 works spanning the 20th and 21st centuries, much of which is exhibited throughout the public spaces of HUC-JIR’s New York campus and integrated into temporary thematic exhibitions.

Dr. Bernard Heller Museum internships offer extensive hands-on experience working closely with curators, educators, and communications staff. Museum Interns will have the opportunity to develop skills and acquire significant museum experience, including:

  • Interaction with contemporary artists
  • Studio visits
  • Hands-on exhibition design & installation
  • Fine arts research
  • Conservation skills
  • Exhibition catalog production
  • Object registration
  • Marketing and public relations
  • Educational programming

Details:

  • Semester and Summer internships
  • Flexible hours
  • May qualify for academic credit

To apply: Please send a resume and cover letter to hellermuseum@huc.edu

Heller Museum Publications

Illustrations for the Bronfman Haggadah

Illustrations for the Bronfman Haggadah

A revolutionary Haggadah for the 21st century, The Bronfman Haggadah is a provocative and stunningly visual reinterpretation of the Passover story.

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Elements of Alchemy

Elements of Alchemy

Paul Weissman employs multi-layered printmaking techniques that incorporate eponymous elements and metaphorical imagery to examine man’s relationship to basic building blocks of the universe.

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The L.A. Story

The L.A. Story

This exhibition, a selection of work from ten contemporary Los Angeles Jewish artists, investigates the impact of place and the search for artistic community on the creativity of artists who share a religious, cultural and spiritual heritage.

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The Eye of the Collector: The Jewish Vision of Sigmund R. Balka

The Eye of the Collector: The Jewish Vision of Sigmund R. Balka

Sigmund R. Balka has gifted the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion with an encyclopedic survey of the major European and American Jewish artists and themes in Jewish art during the 19th and 20th century.

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Rosalyn A. Engelman: Dry Tears

Rosalyn A. Engelman: Dry Tears

Rosalyn Engelman uses her skills as a visual artist to cast light on the vulnerability of the individual victim.

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Nathan Hilu’s Journal: Word, Image, Memory

Nathan Hilu’s Journal: Word, Image, Memory

Nathan Hilu’s imaginative works evoke memories of his long, multi-faceted life. The phrase art brut, coined by Jean Dubuffet in 1922, best describes Hilu’s style — naïf, or outsider art that does not adhere to the mainstream.

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Leonard Everett Fisher: 70 Years an Artist

Leonard Everett Fisher: 70 Years an Artist

Pulitzer Prize-winner Leonard Everett Fisher’s prolific career embraces contemporary painting, the illustration of more than 200 books, commissions by the U.S. government to design postage stamps, and work as a World War II map maker.

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Judy Chicago: Jewish Identity

Judy Chicago: Jewish Identity

Judy Chicago: Jewish Identity, an exhibition of the works of Judy Chicago, surveys her career, focusing on the impact of her family’s Eastern European Jewish roots and the legacy of their values and political activism.

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Janet Shafner: Dark Prophecies

Janet Shafner: Dark Prophecies

Turning to the Torah for the original sources of human relationships, Janet Shafner engaged with moral issues, ethics, and the unremitting arc of life and death.

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