Jewish Museum: Bookstore – Change Causes Fuss

Der Standard, July 6, 2017

German Original:

Protest via Online Petition – Director Spera: „Normal Procedure“

The bookstore Singer is not just known as a simple business, but as a meeting point and the place to go for literature and information on Jewish history and contemporary Jewish life in Vienna and around the world. The store has been housed on the first floor of the Jewish Museum in Vienna’s Dorotheergasse; besides literature, sound carriers, non-fiction, cultural items and souvenirs, the store also sells the museum’s exhibit catalogs.

Many customers count on the expertise of the store's operator, Dorothy Singer. However, Singer has now made public via Facebook that the Jewish Museum is planning on cancelling the demise charter by the end of the year and the bookstore Singer therefore will soon be history. Singer declined to provide further information upon request by Der Standard. Meanwhile, there has been substantial commotion on the Internet; an online petition calling for the survival of the bookstore quickly garnered more than 1,000 signatures.

Not Enough Catalogs sold

Danielle Spera, director of the Jewish Museum, cannot follow the excitement. During a conversation with Der Standard, Spera wants to calm things down: there will of course be a bookstore inside the museum; however, the lessee will change. „And that is a perfectly normal procedure in the museum business,“ Spera said.

According to Spera, the change does not come overhasty nor unfounded. The main reason lies in the museum catalogs not being advertises enough. „It was more like a shop next to the museum and not so much for the museum. But that is exactly what it should be,” explains Spera, who said she tried in vain to reach an agreement with the operator. In addition, the comptroller’s office has recently criticized that the store has not been selling enough exhibit catalogs with regard to the museum’s economic efficiency.  

In the future, Spera envisions a store that highlights the achievements of the museum, “a bookstore that is not run next to the museum, but with the museum, in close coordination with the exhibits,“ says Spera. In addition, the museum plans to add design items from Israel and crafts by Jewish artists in addition to the selection of books.