The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU (JMOF-FIU) is the only museum dedicated to telling the story of 250 years of Florida Jewish heritage, arts and culture. MOSAIC: Jewish Life in Florida, the Museum’s core exhibit, depicts the Florida Jewish experience through photographs, artifacts, documents and oral histories from pioneer families to the state’s most recent arrivals. The exhibition was an 8-year statewide grassroots collecting effort, led by JMOF Founding Executive Director Marcia Jo Zerivitz. MOSAIC traveled to 13 cities from 1990-1994. The traveling exhibit generated so much interest that by 1995, MOSAIC evolved into the Jewish Museum of Florida and the traveling exhibit became the Museum’s core exhibit, which is continuously updated to reflect Florida’s growing history.
JMOF-FIU collects, preserves and interprets the material evidence of the Jewish experience in Florida that began in 1763 in Pensacola, when Jews were first allowed to live in the state. Since opening in 1995, the Museum has mounted and hosted more than 65 world-class temporary art and history exhibits, and regularly attracts visitors from all over the world. JMOF also presents cultural and educational programs, houses a Collections & Research Center reflecting Florida Jewish history and communicates Jewish history, values and issues to Jews and non-Jews alike in an informal manner.
The Museum is located in two former adjacent synagogues that housed Miami Beach’s first Jewish congregation, Beth Jacob. Both synagogues, built in 1929 and 1936, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The latter building, which underwent a two-year restoration from 1993- 1995, was designed by architect Henry Hohauser and boasts art deco features, a Moorish-style copper dome, marble bimah and 80 stained-glass windows. The 1929 original shul was renovated in 2007. In 2008, Bessie’s Bistro made its debut as a center court and interior connection between the two buildings and the Orovitz Museum Store was expanded. The Jewish Museum of Florida spent $4 million on restorations to adapt the historic structures to create a stateof- the-art museum space. JMOF-FIU is accredited by the American Association of Museums, an honor awarded to less than five percent of the nation’s museums.
JMOF-FIU has been recognized with many accolades, including being named the “Jewel of South Beach,” and “Best Museum” by Miami New Times. The Museum has become a leader in the field, initiating such projects as legislation for an annual Florida Jewish History Month in January and a national Jewish American Heritage Month celebrated each May.
In Fall 2012, the Museum became part of Florida International University. The historic partnership strengthens awareness of JMOF’s internationally recognized institution, broadens its academic offerings and increases scholarly research of its collections. FIU will utilize the Museum’s facilities and collection to implement an academic plan consistent with JMOF’s and FIU’s shared educational, research and outreach missions.
The Jewish Museum of Florida is located at 301 Washington Avenue in South Beach. Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Mondays, civil and Jewish holidays. Admission: Adults/$6; Seniors/$5; Families/$12; Members and children under 6/Always Free; Saturdays/Free; Wednesdays and Fridays/Free for Miami Beach residents with valid ID. For more information: 305- 672-5044 or www.jewishmuseum.com.