The National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia is receiving massive financial support from shoe entrepreneur Stuart Weitzman, as the cultural foundation emerges from bankruptcy and is finally seeking to reopen its doors amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organization’s name will be changed to the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History after the designer donated an “extraordinary new gift” to the foundation, NMAJH CEO Misha Galperin books. The amount of the donation was not disclosed at Weitzman’s request.
Weitzman’s investment will allow the museum to buy back its 100,000-square-foot building in the Independence Mall after the foundation was forced to sell it during an 18-month bankruptcy process. The financial commitment will also lead to the creation of the Stuart Weitzman Endowment, which will help support future exhibitions and other activities at the Museum.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Weitzman initially became interested in the museum through a letter written by George Washington to the Jewish community of Newport, Rhode Island, the Inquirer mentioned. The letter was included in a museum exhibit from 2012 on the former president and religious freedom.
Weitzman and his family Donated $1 million to the organization In 2018. Since then, the Museum’s First Families gallery has been named in honor of the Whitsman family.
Introducing … The Weizmann National Museum of American Jewish History 🎉 We are pleased to announce our new name in recognition of the extraordinary generosity of the genius designer, brave businessman, successful businessman, generous philanthropist and true gentleman. Tweet embed. pic.twitter.com/yeBpgKm7Ac
– National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) November 30, 2021
In recent years, the National Museum of American Jewish History has faced significant financial problems, which have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
the museum Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2020 Having had nearly $30 million in debt. Most of the organization’s unpaid payments originated from a $150 million construction project in 2010.
The foundation had planned to remain open during bankruptcy proceedings, but the museum’s in-person operations were halted shortly thereafter due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The museum has not yet reopened since the start of the public health crisis.
As a result of this pandemic, the organization had to lay off most of its employees. Additionally, the museum’s bankruptcy proceedings prevented him from receiving any funding through the federal Paycheck Protection Program.
But the museum managed to get out of bankruptcy in September with virtually no debt after a number of philanthropists forgoed $14 million in loans that the organization had to repay and cover the foundation’s legal fees. The museum was also able to reach a settlement with his bank in which he only had to pay $10.5 million of the $17 million he was on the hook for.
In order to obtain funding, the museum sold its building in the Philly Historic District to former Board Member Mitchell Morgan. Since the sale, the museum has paid Morgan $1,000 a month to rent the building. But Morgan said the museum could buy back its building at the corner of Fifth Street and Market Street any time in the next 42 months.
With more financial stability in the future, the National Museum of American Jewish History hopes to reopen its physical space to the public soon. Since switching to online-only operations, the organization has seen more than four million people interact with its online exhibitions, educational programs, and tours.
The public can provide financial assistance to the organization by contributing to annual fund, which helps support exhibitions, educational activities, and other museum programs.