Before our current exhibition, Recreating the Tapestry, went on display in 2006, another exhibition shined at the Vilna Shul. Continuity: Traditions of Jewish Art and Architecture explored the world of design within synagogue walls, weaving a thread of history from the painted synagogues that once stood gracefully throughout Europe and Russia to the synagogues of America like the Vilna. Curated by Laura and Rick Brown, professors at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and founders of Handshouse Studio, an organization that recreates artifacts nearly lost to history as a way to inspire students into a deeper study of science, art, and culture, it was the first exhibition housed inside the Vilna.
It was also one of the first steps on the journey of a lifetime.
Since then the Browns have had synagogues on their minds. This spring saw the culmination of nearly a decade of research, teaching and fascination with what were, for thousands of Polish Jews, the hearts of their communities: the unveiling of a reconstruction of the Gwoździec synagogue, one of the legendary wooden synagogues that was also home to a stunning array of bright and intricate murals.
We are proud to have supported the Browns and their international effort to reconstruct this treasure of Jewish culture lost during the Holocaust. It made its public debut at Warsaw's much-anticipated Museum of the History of Polish Jews in April and now stands as an inspiring centerpiece in the museum. (Click here to visit the museum's website.)
Since 2006, John Rubin Productions, Inc. and Trillium Studios have been filming a documentary about the efforts of Rick and Laura to reconstruct the Gwoździec synagogue. You can see the details of their efforts at the Trillum Studios website.
For more information on Handshouse studio visit: http://handshouse.org/
The efforts to reconstruct the synagogue have been the feature of many a news article, including a recent one in the Boston Globe. You can find the article here.