The museum was founded in 1987 by its former director Aron Neuman who, together with his wife Viola, provided the funds necessary to get the museum started.
The stated aims of the museum were to show
- the history of the Swedish Jews
- the adaption of the Jews to life in Sweden and their contribution to culture, art, literature, trade, industry etc
- the culture and religion of the Jews, their manners and customs, in the synagogue and in their homes
The museum, which was the first Jewish museum in the Nordic countries, is a member of the Swedish Association of Museums and of AEJM (Association of European Jewish Museums). Since 1992 the museum has been located in Stockholm at Hälsingegatan 2, where the premises consist of an entrance hall and three rooms. Two of the rooms are used for exhibition purposes, one of them for the permanent displays and the other for special temporary exhibitions. The permanent displays include a number of showcases, in which the artefacts are presented mainly in terms of categories such as Torah, Sabbath, Circumcision etc. A museum theatre features multi-media performances about Jewish life from the cradle to the grave, Swedish Jewish history and the Holocaust. The films and multimedia performances have been specially produced by the museum. An interactive installation about Swedish Jewish history is presented in the permanent exhibition hall and there is a touch-screen for seeking information about Sweden and the Holocaust. A cupboard houses a display honouring people involved with the rescue operations to help Jews to escape to Sweden from occupied Norway and Denmark, as well as from the concentration camps in Europe at the end of World War II. The museum has produced a number of special exhibitions covering different aspects of Jewish life in Sweden. Please see under exhibitions.
The museum has met with a lively response from the general public. The number of visitors amounts to about 12 000-16 000 a year which is very satisfactory for Swedish conditions. About 35 percent of our visitors consist of school-classes.
Supporting the museum there is a Friendship Association with about 1 100 members.
Along with the dedicated exhibition activities, the museum also engages in informative activities. This is done mainly through lectures about the Swedish Jews, their history and their relations with society, as well as about Jewish culture and religion. These lectures are given in conjunction with demonstrating the exhibits.
Numerous seminars and debates on a vast range of topics are organized by the museum and held on the premises.
The museum has received substantial grants from the Swedish Parliament and Stockholm County Administration as well as from the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, the Friendship Association, Clas Groschinsky´s Foundation, while the Jewish Community gives generous annual support to the museum. The museum relies greatly on grants from private donors. Exhibitions, projects and special programs are all separately financed with support from the Municipality of Stockholm, Swedish Arts Council, Claims Conference and other foundations and organizations depending on the subject to be presented.