Former Israel Museum Director to Lead New York’s Jewish Museum

James S. Snyder, the former director of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, will be the next leader of New York’s Jewish Museum, where he will commence his post in November.

The current executive chairman of the Jerusalem Foundation, Snyder is best known for having led the Israel Museum from 1997 to 2016, a 19-year-long tenure during which he vastly expanded the institution’s campus and collection. After departing the top post there, he served as international president of the Israel Museum for another two years.

Snyder also has experience in New York museums, having served as deputy director of the Museum of Modern Art from 1986 to 1996.

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When Snyder left Israel’s largest national museum, he faced controversy over receiving what one news blog called “double pay,” with another salary simultaneously coming from the organization American Friends of Israel Museum, which said that it was a separate entity from the Israel Museum. Snyder said the report contained “slanderous claims and false accusations.”

The Jewish Museum said that the claims in the report from 2017 “misrepresent” the picture surrounding Snyder’s compensation. “As an American working in Israel on a B-1 visa,” the museum said, “the bulk of his salary was paid from the U.S. by the American Friends, and a nominal portion was paid by the museum in Israel for the purpose of employee benefits. Approval of this structure was confirmed in a statement by the Israel Museum in response to the original reporting.”

At the Jewish Museum, Snyder succeeds Claudia Gould, who directed the institution from 2011 to this past June. She announced her departure last year.

“I feel honored to join the Jewish Museum to advance its celebrated history in both the art and Jewish museum worlds,” Snyder said in a statement.

He added, “In addition to its deep and far-ranging collections, dynamic exhibition programming, and professional expertise, what drew me to the Museum is the opportunity it offers to anchor Jewish world culture in the context of the times and places where it has flourished globally. In so doing, we can lead the way as a model for museums which focus on specific cultures to demonstrate how those cultures resonate with the diversity of communities and audiences around them and foster an understanding of a more interconnected world—advancing a mission that could not be more timely today.”

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