The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded a $250,000 grant to the National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) in support of the forthcoming exhibition, Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music. On view March 16 – September 2, 2018, the exhibition will celebrate the centennial birthday of one of the 20th century’s most influential cultural figures. It will feature more than 100 one-of-a-kind historic artifacts, sound installations, and interactive media to explore how Bernstein leveraged his love of learning and teaching, public celebrity, and musical talent to inspire social change.
“This show of support by the NEH is reinforcement of the scholarly, public value of our work and confirmation of our strong programmatic track record,” said Ivy Barsky, NMAJH’s CEO and Gwen Goodman Director. “A vote of confidence from the discerning NEH is valuable leverage for securing other prospective donors. We are delighted to have this recognition—in order to do justice to the legacy of Leonard Bernstein.”
One of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States, the NEH awards grants to top-rated proposals examined by panels of independent, external reviewers. The $250,000 NEH grant will support NMAJH’s implementation of Leonard Bernstein, including exhibition fabrication, installation, and media production. The NEH also awarded NMAJH a $40,000 planning grant in April 2016 to support the exhibition’s early development.
Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music is the first large-scale museum exhibition to illustrate Bernstein’s life, Jewish identity, and social activism. Audiences may be familiar with many of Bernstein’s works, notably West Side Story, but not necessarily with how he responded to the political and social crises of his day. Visitors will find an individual who expressed the restlessness, anxiety, fear, and hope of an American Jew living through World War II and the Holocaust, Vietnam, and turbulent social change—what Bernstein referred to as his “search for a solution to the 20th‐century crisis of faith.” The exhibition will explore his Jewish identity and social activism in the context of his position as an American conductor and his works as a composer. It will feature more than 100 historic artifacts, including Bernstein’s piano, marked-up scores, conducting suit, annotated copy of Romeo and Juliet used for the development of West Side Story, personal family Judaica, composing easel, and a number of objects from his studio.
The Museum is honored to receive the NEH’s continued support and recognition of its exhibition programming. In addition to the grants for Leonard Bernstein, NMAJH previously received a $325,000 NEH grant in August 2016 for 1917: How One Year Changed the World and a $300,000 NEH grant in July 2013 for Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American.
For more information on Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music, visit NMAJH.org/Bernstein.