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“Well designed and informative museum”

National Museum of American Jewish History
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Philadelphia Hop-On Hop-Off City Tour
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Day Trip from New Haven CT to Philadelphia by Rail
Ranked #8 of 450 things to do in Philadelphia
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: The Museum offers tickets for Adults (ages 22-64) $12, Youths (ages 13-21) $11, Children (12-under) free, Active Military (with ID) free, Seniors (65+) $11. This museum offers dynamic and always intriguing exhibits. The history and evolution of the American Jewish community from colonial times onward is chronicled.
Useful Information: Wheelchair access, Activities for young children, Food available for purchase, Bathroom facilities, Activities for older children, Stairs / elevator
New York
Level 4 Contributor
36 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Well designed and informative museum”
Reviewed August 11, 2011

We visited this museum on a Sunday morning. This was a great time to tour the museum; other than a couple of groups following guides, it was not crowded. There was much to see and read, far too much for the two hours we had to spend there. The 'competing' tour guides made it difficult for us to read and listen to the films on the 4th floor, so we quickly moved to the next level to better concentrate. The exhibits truly inform and educate. The combination of text and video enhanced our experience. This is a museum to re-visit.

Visited August 2011
Thank PhillyFanNewYork
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Worth seeing!”
Reviewed August 10, 2011

The museum is right in the thick of things. If your interested in the history of Jews in America since the mid 1600's, and the contributions they've made in every facet of American life then this is definitely the place for you. The museum is still in it's infancy with great potential.

Thank DrFRM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newark, Delaware
Level 4 Contributor
29 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 80 helpful votes
“A comprehensive history of Jews in America”
Reviewed August 1, 2011

I was fortunate enough to recently visit this great new museum located right on Independence Mall. It features three stories of exhibits that can easily take three or more hours to finish. The exhibits are organized both chronologically and thematically. I learned a lot here that I had no idea about: for example, the first Jewish community in North America came from Brazil! The exhibits are also very good at presenting unvarnished history, both good and bad aspects. If there's any criticism, it's that the museum sometimes becomes too much of the general immigrant story. Your understanding of the exhibits will also depend on your background and how much you know about Jewish history and custom (many aspects of the different sects of Judaism are not fully explained). Still, you're not going to get a better record of Jewish life in America anywhere else, so I would highly recommend taking a visit!

Visited July 2011
2 Thank UATraveler22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 4 Contributor
30 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Interesting, educational, personal, and extremely well designed”
Reviewed July 25, 2011

Jews will appreciate this; however, anyone could attend as this covers the experiences of immigrants which were common to so many of our American ancestors. It does focus on America, not Europe or the middle east.
The museum layout is what I liked the most. All types of experiences are available - watching video, listening, interactive, reading, viewing - and they are nicely dispersed. There was a mix of sitting to watch vs. standing to read vs. walking. As soon as I started to get tired, there was an interesting video to watch. My favorite use of video was the one that showed the activities in the US and the activies in Europe, leading up to and during WW2, side-by-side. The comparison was an angle I had never considered.
I was surprised by how child-friendly the museum is. There are specific areas designed just for children, at lower heights, which are still interesting to adults. The children's areas are very interactive.
Make sure to leave time to watch the "hall of fame" movies on the street level. I think there are 18 mini-movies, and they seemed to be about five minutes each. I wish I had had time to see all of them.
The restaurant was affordable and the food was good - the mixed fruit I got was fresh and in season, I believe the soups are made from scratch.
The gift shop had unique items at what I felt were reasonable prices, there is a nice collection of mezuzahs.
The museum is in the same block as the common Philadelphia landmarks, and the metro stop is right at the museum entrance.
The museum was affordable, sparkling clean, had inspiring content, and was a highlight of my trip to Philadelphia. An unexpected jem.

Visited July 2011
1 Thank Living_strong
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level 4 Contributor
20 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
“Museum about Jews in America is really about liberty”
Reviewed July 4, 2011

I live in Washington, DC, where the Holocaust Museum details the systematic persecution and destruction of Europe's Jews. But an engaging and substantive museum in Philadelphia demonstrates how American freedom allowed Jews to achieve and contribute in this country, despite a good deal of anti-Semitism and misunderstanding along the way. The museum's chronicling of the Jewish experience in America, with its challenges of discrimination and assimilation, is one that visitors of many backgrounds will recognize and Jewish families will treasure.

The first wonderful thing about the museum is its location across from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. This makes a public statement about the role of American Jews in U.S. history, but also sends a message that liberty can and should provide immigrants with protection and opportunity. Also impressive is the museum's use of multimedia, which manages to be high-tech without being flashy. The technology serves the story.

The museum is structured chronologically. It's recommended that you start on the 4th floor, which is devoted to early Jewish settlers in colonial America and Jewish participation in the nation's first century. Before you enter the galleries, you are struck by the expansive views from a wall of windows facing onto Independence Hall and National Historical Park, which sets the stage to learn how the history of Jews in the United States is a very American story. Nearby, a short multimedia presentation provides a foundation for what is on that floor. Each level of the museum begins that way: with the view and the intro. The multimedia shows on the 4th and 3rd floors are especially impressive.

The 4th floor galleries themselves display an array of artifacts and documents about a period of time when Jews came to America for the same variety of reasons as other groups and made their way all over the emerging nation. We see how America and this very small minority population came to deal with each other. I found the material about Jewish participation in the Civil War particularly interesting.

The 3rd floor begins in 1880 with the mass migration to the U.S. of Jews from Eastern Europe, then relates the Jewish experience after the crackdown on immigration in the 1920s, and gives the American Jewish perspective through two world wars. Because of the sheer number of Jews who arrived during this period, this is the back story of most of the Jewish families in the United States. So, while the outlines of this experience may be familiar to many visitors, the museum adds richness and detail using evocative historical objects, period environments and cutting-edge interactive technology. Fun activity: line up at Ellis Island and see if you can win admission into the United States.

The 2nd floor, covering 1945 to the present, focuses on a period in which America's freedoms allowed Jews to integrate into national life on a level Jews have experienced very few times in their history anywhere in the world. It shows Jews following the lure of suburbia, advancing to the highest positions in many professions, and confronting questions of how to observe and preserve Judaism in modern America. It examines the creation of the state of Israel and its impact on American Jews. Most significantly to me, there are depictions of Jewish involvement in postwar culture and counterculture, especially the struggle for civil rights, worker rights and, in general, the extension of freedom not only to Jews but to all peoples. After the galleries, guests can enter booths where a clever exhibit lets them videotape for posterity their reactions to the museum and the stories of their own families.

Back down on the first floor, you can rest in front of an exhibit called Only In America. On the surface, it's a kind of Jewish Hall of Fame. But with historical objects and multimedia presentations, it explores the background of a number of famous American Jews in the context of their lives as Americans. Within a few steps of each other, you can see Steven Spielberg's first Super 8 camera, Irving Berlin's amazing transposing piano, Isaac Bashevis Singer's Yiddish typewriter, and other cool artifacts. Then have a nosh at the small cafe and browse through a nice museum store.

We probably spent five hours touring the museum, since there were thousands of artifacts on display accompanied by well-written explanations. But even if you only have an hour, you can enjoy the understated design and engaging multimedia. Children will have fun discovering the many kid-height nooks and crannies which their parents and grandparents may have walked right by.

Congratulations to Philadelphia (and the museum staff) for creating this first-class museum.

Visited June 2011
4 Thank calligcat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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