Philadelphia’s Jewish museum on track to November opening

    The new National Museum of American Jewish History at 5th and Market is nearly completed – staff will begin to move in at the end of the month.

    The new National Museum of American Jewish History at 5th and Market is nearly completed – staff will begin to move in at the end of the month.

    The most prominent aspect of the facade is a mesh netting embedded in a 5-story grid of glass. The effect is a veil – letting in light, but not a lot of light.

    The building boasts plenty of natural light, which is enhanced by features such as glass staircases.
    The building boast plenty of naturally light, which is enhanced by features such as glass staircases.

    The interior spaces are distinguished by varying degrees of light. Balconies overlooking Independence Mall are bathed in veiled sunlight, and an atrium opens up the center of the building, creating a column of light from a glass ceiling. Even the staircases criss-crossing the atrium space are made of glass.

    That atrium opens onto four floors of galleries. Exhibit designer Jamie Rains says the architecture is in danger of distracting from the collection.

    The atrium is most difficult to work with. It can overshadow big moments of the story – it’s hard to compete. Instead our stories in that space try to blend in architecturally.

    Each floor has additional galleries that are completely closed off from the atrium and balconies, designed to allow visitors to focus on the material rather than the building.

    More than $150 million is being raised to build the museum, which focus on the lives and accomplishments of Jewish Americans. It is on target for a November opening date.

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