Sydney Jewish Museum to expand by 2027

23 MARCH, 2023

This week, Sydney Jewish Museum announces that, with bipartisan support from NSW’s Liberal and Labor parties, it will open an expanded museum precinct by 2027, housing two museums in one.

The expanded museum, at its original Darlinghurst site, will include a Centre of Contemporary Jewish Life and a Sydney Holocaust Museum.

The Museum was founded in 1992 by the generation of Holocaust survivors who made new lives in Sydney after the war. It was opened in Darlinghurst’s historic Jewish War Memorial Hall, and it became a place for survivors to share their memories, commemorate the 6 million Jewish people who were murdered, and provide important messages to future generations about tolerance and inclusion.

Today, the SJM welcomes 55,000 visitors each year, including 28,000 school students, to learn about Jewish cultural life and heritage in Sydney, and to hear the messages of Holocaust survivors.

Racism and antisemitism are on the rise in Australia and antisemitic incidents in 2022 were 40% higher than in the previous two years. Whilst the Museum’s educational programs directly aim to respond to this alarming trend, their ability to grow the number of students who attend is restricted by the capacity of the current building. As such, the Museum is planning to expand its footprint to ensure it has an even greater impact in the fight against intolerance, racism and antisemitism. The proposed design is sensitive to the heritage importance of the buildings and in the coming months, the SJM will seek development approvals for the reconfiguration.

The Museum expansion project will aim to attract nearly twice as many visitors by 2032, growing from 55,000 to 100,000 a year. The new, expanded museum site will include programming that celebrates Jewish life and culture, strengthens the museum as Australia’s leading Holocaust museum, and responds to a changing world with programs that actively challenge racism and antisemitism.

In the past few weeks, both Liberal and Labor parties have each committed to supporting this expansion with funding in the vicinity of $10 million, if re-elected.

On the need for the Museum’s expansion and the bi-partisan support for the project, Museum President, Greg Shand, said:

“Since its founding 30 years ago, the Museum has sought to inform and educate visitors about the Holocaust, as well as about Jewish life and culture. The Holocaust survivors who, in many cases, have volunteered at the Museum since its inception, have dedicated their lives to telling their stories to those who have come to the Museum, all with the aim of ensuring that the tragedy of the Holocaust is never to be repeated.  The recent upsurge in antisemitism only serves to highlight the importance of the Museum seeking to double its impact by doubling the number that visit annually. The support from both major parties, for which the Museum is enormously grateful, will contribute in a material way to creating a larger, state-of-the-art facility, and will greatly assist the Museum in achieving this objective.”

Museum CEO, Kevin Sumption, adds: “It is gratifying to receive the news that both the Liberal and Labor parties will commit significant funding towards this expansion project. It signals that racism and antisemitism have no place here, and that the vision of our survivors will live on well into the future.”

Image: Architectural render
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