New Jewish History Museum Planned for Washington

The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington will use the grant to design and construct a new museum, as well as to relocate and renovate a historic synagogue.

The Jewish Historical Society for Greater Washington has been awarded a grant from the NEH for a new museum. The $250,000 grant will be used to design and construct the new museum, as well as to relocate and renovate a historic synagogue.  The grant is one twenty-nine cultural infrastructure grants awarded in August, 2018 totaling $13.2 million. 

The synagogue was constructed by the Adas Israel Congregation at Sixth and G Streets in 1876. The dedication, just weeks before the Centennial, was attended by President Ulysses S. Grant. By 1908, the congregation had outgrown the building, which had a capacity of 350, and moved to a new building on Sixth and I Streets. The synagogue was converted for commercial use. In 1966, plans to raze the building led to the creation of the Jewish Historical Society, who moved the building – minus its structurally unsound first floor – to its current location at Third and G Streets in 1969. The upcoming relocation will restore some of the building’s context, by allowing it to be oriented facing Jerusalem as originally constructed. The museum will be built on adjacent land.

Designs are being prepared with SmithGroup JJR Architects, whose work includes the award-winning National Museum of African American Culture and History and the adaptive reuse of a refrigerated warehouse as the new Museum of the Bible, both in Washington, DC. The society hopes to begin construction on the museum in Summer, 2019 for a tentative opening date in 2021.