Danielle Spera as New Director of the Jewish Museum

Austrian Press Agency (APA) (11/30/2009)

Vienna – Moderator for ORF Daniella Spera (52) will take over as director of the Jewish Museum in Vienna beginning July 1, 1010. As Councillor for Cultural Affairs Andreas Mailath-Pokorny and Deputy-Mayor Renate Brauner officially revealed at a press conference, out of the fourteen persons applying for the position, Spera convinced the selection board with her concept, her personal background and her experience in public relations and journalism.

The Museum should do more to open its doors to a wider public, revealing the real “treasures” of the institution. Her contract runs for five years. “I have followed the development of the Museum with great enthusiasm from its very beginning but was only sad that I was mostly here alone as a visitor,” said the future Museum’s director, who succeeds Karl Albrecht-Weinberger.

With her focus on opening the Museum up for a new public, Spera outrivaled other prominent competitors like filmmaker Ruth Beckermann or director of the new Jewish Museum in München Bernhard Pruin. She fails to bring the experience which the Museum mentioned as desirable in the announcement; however, she will use her high profile in the service of Vienna’s museums,” emphasized Brauner. In the future a visit to the Jewish Museum will “be a self-understood matter,” particularly for tourists.

Spera, for whom Jewry in view of its culture and religion is a “very personal matter,” would first of all like to deliberate with the Museum’s team; moreover, she is already in negotiation over an increase in subsidies from the City of Vienna in terms of the budget (currently at 3.8 million Euros). With its 15,000 objects, the Museum is “a well-sorted bookshop” with an “excellent team of curators” managing the institution but “only unfortunately, almost at the exclusion of the public,” said Spera.

It is “her passion” to change this by attracting new groups of society, particularly those among the non-Jewish population, and allowing them “to experience Jewry,” by “removing their initial fears”, speaking to young people by way of school projects and offering stronger attractions for tourists by creating the opportunity for them “to look for traces and roots” in Vienna. “Tourists looking for Jewish Vienna should not just by chance visit the Museum,” said Spera, who would also like to have more internet coverage, a weblog and have the Museum participate in more social networks.

The journalist, who has “very good contacts” with the Jewish Community in Vienna as well as with that in Miami, Los Angeles and New York, with international Jewish museums is planning for more cooperation. Likewise she would like to work more closely together with the film archive, Ö-1 archive, and with the Zoom Children’s Museum. The motto will be to “not only exhibit objects, but also use the museum for events and discussion as a platform for Jewish life in Vienna. She, herself, wants “her presence felt” in the Museum, explained Spera.

Daniella Spera was born on August 10, 1957 in Vienna as the child of Jewish parents, studied journalism and political science in Vienna, receiving her PhD in 1983, and has been working with ORF since 1978. Following her work as an advisor to the editing staff as well as a foreign correspondent, she became in 1988 a moderator to one of the most influential personalities of “Zeit im Bild.” In addition, she was, among other things, author of the book, “Nitsch – Life and Work,” and journalist for the Jewish cultural magazine, “Nu.”

Congratulations were received, also from the opposition party. Head of the neo ÖVP party Christine Marek was very happy that one “selected a highly competent woman”: I am convinced that she will contribute greatly with her commitment and passion in order to strength a valuable and significant institution in Vienna.”