• Unseen Untold: Our Curious Collection
  • Unseen Untold: Our Curious Collection
  • Unseen Untold: Our Curious Collection
  • Unseen Untold: Our Curious Collection

Unseen Untold: Our Curious Collection

28 March - October 2018


At the heart of the Sydney Jewish Museum is a collection of 9,000 artefacts which shapes and informs exhibitions, research and education programs. Only a small fraction of this material is on display in our permanent exhibitions.

To mark the Museum’s 25th anniversary and celebrate 25 years of collecting, the Curators have gone behind-the-scenes, delved into the archives to showcase some never-before-seen quirky, precious and curious objects, each with a unique story to tell.

Prepare to be moved, provoked and enlightened.

The collection

The collection began with the Australian Association of Holocaust Survivors. They canvased their members looking for objects to form the new museum. Each item they collected became a touchstone to an individual’s story. From this humble beginning the collection has grown to include Judaism and Australian Jewish history. Defining these areas is complex and has led to many healthy debates: How do you represent Judaism? What encompasses Australian Jewish history? When does the story of the Holocaust begin and end?

Whilst there is a Collection Policy to guide us, it is not an exact science; more often than not we overlook artistic aesthetics or rarity, seeking instead the story of the item, that which transforms an inanimate object into a conduit of narrative. Thus our collection is unique in that it reflects what is important to the Sydney Jewish community and over the years it has grown to include some unexpected items. The collection continues to expand and flourish, shaped by the generosity of the community who entrust their memorabilia to us, sharing their family histories and heritage.

What I love about this exhibition is its breadth, its diversity, and most of all, its unusual quirkiness. It’s really not what you’d usually see. The things you see, as well, are really just the tip of the iceberg. The most simple things have such stories behind them, and that’s what gives them their meaning and their richness. 

– Nick Tobias, Architect and Art Collector

Exhibition generously supported by:

Major Sponsor
Karen and Michael Gutman OBE in honour of Margaret Gutman OAM

Other Sponsors
In memory of Eugene Kleibert
In memory of Meta Boehm
In memory of Major General Paul Cullen AC CBE

Sydney Jewish Museum Curators: Roslyn Sugarman, Shannon Biederman and Rachel Mensforth.