The museum’s permanent exhibit, 4,000 Year Road Trip: Gathering Sparks, is a dynamic journey through art, artifacts and digital media that illuminates, narrates and celebrates Jewish history and culture, which is ultimately a celebration of not only contemporary life but of all humanity. The exhibit encourages an ongoing conversation about where we came from and where we’re going – no matter who we are. Denver Mayor Bill Vidal called it “a new gem in Denver’s cultural landscape.” The exhibit serves as a springboard for programs for adults including social gatherings, art workshops and concerts that encourage a deeper understanding of their own stories and their journeys through life.
The theme of gathering sparks is often understood to be the origin of tikkun olam, or “healing the world.” The myth tells us that when G-d created light it was carried forth in ten vessels that shattered, scattering sparks of divine light throughout the world. Had the containers been able to contain the light of creation and arrive intact, the world would have been perfect. Instead, G-d created people to seek out and gather the hidden sparks wherever they may be. When this task is complete, the broken vessels will be restored and the world repaired.
The exhibition features fine art installations, video, and artifacts from our collection. In developing the exhibition, we present Jewish culture and teach about Jewish values in order to celebrate Judaism, and to encourage all people to celebrate their own personal and cultural identities and journeys. Threading together the themes of journey and gathering sparks encourages visitors to recognize that journeys interweave, so when we work together, we gather sparks for ourselves and for one another.
Gathering Sparks is an interactive exhibition that takes visitors of all ages and backgrounds on an inquiry-based journey, exploring the richness and diversity of Jewish life, culture and history through the use of artifacts, fine art installations, video and photography.
Utilizing art and artifacts from the museum’s collection and borrowed art from around the world, Curator Georgina Kolber developed a historical, educational, yet atypical exhibit. Kolber, together with local artist Scott Lyon and museum staff, replaced the usual displays of historical objects, art and documents with a storyline that is both abstract and visual. The 4,000 years of Jewish stories, culture and symbolism can be connected with on many levels, from the most learned Jewish historian’s to the everyday grade school students.
“The exhibit engages visitors, no matter who they are, not only because it is visually stunning and unique, but because it offers layers of meaning to which people at all stages of their journeys can connect,” said Georgina Kolber, Curator. “The exhibit explores universal themes through the lens of the contemporary Jewish experience, allowing visitors to learn about Jewish culture and simultaneously celebrate their own identities.”
Group tours for classes and organizations can be tailored to the needs and interests of your group with an array of companion programs. Themes running through the exhibit that can be explored during group tours and discussion include immigration, cultural identity, justice, civic engagement, the Holocaust, Israel and more.