Laureates 2020

2020 Past - Cultural Preservation and Revival

Prof. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett

Barbara Kirshenblatt Gimblett Photo credit Marta KusmierBarbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, a University Professor Emerita and Professor Emerita of Performance Studies at New York University, currently serves as the Ronald S. Lauder Chief Curator of the Core Exhibition at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw

As the child of Polish Jews who immigrated to Canada, Prof. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett always felt deeply connected to the history of this vibrant community and the civilization they created. She made it her mission to recover the memory of a lost world and transmit the legacy of that world to future generations.

A prolific writer, Kirshenblatt-Gimblett’s books include Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage; Image before My Eyes: A Photographic History of Jewish Life in Poland, 1864–1939 (with Lucjan Dobroszycki); They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust (with Mayer Kirshenblatt), winner of two book awards, The Art of Being Jewish in Modern Times (with Jonathan Karp), and Anne Frank Unbound: Media, Imagination, Memory (with Jeffrey Shandler), among others.

She was honored for lifetime achievement by the Foundation for Jewish Culture, received the Mlotek Prize for Yiddish and Yiddish Culture, honorary doctorates from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, University of Haifa, and Indiana University, and the 2015 Marshall Sklare Award for her contribution to the social scientific study of Jewry. She was decorated with the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland for her contribution to POLIN Museum. She was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

She serves on Advisory Boards for the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Council of American Jewish Museums, Jewish Museum Vienna, Jewish Museum Berlin, and the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow. She also advises on museum and exhibition projects in Lithuania, Albania, Israel, and the United States.

She considers herself “fortunate to have been able to bridge the academy and the world, to carry out research and share it beyond my students and colleagues, and, through my work, to both honor the legacy of Polish Jews and foster dialogue in the spirit of mutual understanding and respect.”