As a Museum of Jewish history the "Joods Historisch Museum" focuses mainly on the religion, culture and history of the Jews in the Netherlands and its former colonies.
The Museum was established in 1930 for the purpose of "collecting and exhibiting that which presents a picture of Jewish life in general and Dutch Jewish life in particular".
This still applies today, although over the years the Museum has devoted more energy to exhibiting the work of Dutch Jewish artists and non-Jewish artists who dealt with Jewish themes as well as Jewish Enterprises and Entrepreneurs in the Netherlands.
Jewish Cultural Quarter
The museum is housed inside a building comprised of four former synagogues (Grote Sjoel (1671), Obbene Sjoel (1685), Dritt Sjoel (1700), Neie Shul (1750/1752)). Throughout the past centuries Amsterdam has been a center of Jewish immigration from many different cultural and historical contexts, making it a natural location for a Jewish Historical Museum. The Museum is located in one of the old Jewish neighbourhoods of Amsterdam, close to the several other landmarks of Amsterdam Jewish history, such as the Portugese Synagogue and the Hollandse Schouwburg (National Holocaust Memorial).
As is well known most of the Jewish population of Amsterdam were tragically deported during the second world war and only a very small portion survived. The museum was closed during this period and robbed of a large part of it's collection. The Museum managed to reopen in 1955 with a renewed focus on the the history and culture of Jews in the Netherlands.
The current collection constitutes more than 16.000 art, ceremonial and historical objects, and a large collection of historical photographs and documents, of which only a fraction can be on display in several permanent and temporary thematic exhibitions.
There is also a children's museum on the premises, aimed at introducing young children to several aspects of Jewish culture.