Inside Creating Community

A Brief History of The Breman Museum

In 1983, an exhibit was organized under the auspices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta called Jews and Georgians: A Meeting of Cultures, 1733 – 1983. That exhibit contained wonderful memorabilia and artifacts from Jewish families, businesses, synagogues and organizations. It was a terrific success, and helped the Jewish community feel proud about its contributions to Georgia and surprised that "junk" from their attics was actually interesting. Then, when the exhibit closed, those materials had to be given back. The dismantling of that show highlighted the need for a permanent space dedicated to the interpretation and preservation of the Jewish experience. The Breman Jewish Heritage & Holocaust Museum is the physical reality that grew out that awareness.

Between 1984 and 1992, The Federation allowed the staff, which included a director, an archivist, and an administrator, to create what became components of the present museum. These included a community archive (then housed in a closet), a Holocaust Resource Center and exhibition, an oral history project, special exhibitions, and programming. The Holocaust Resource Center was located in the basement of the Jewish Community Center, between the Mizrachi Women's Canteen and the pool. When it didn't smell like chlorine, it smelled like hamburgers.

In 1992, William Breman gave the lead gift, ensuring the creation of The Breman Jewish Heritage Museum. In 1996, the Museum opened at The Selig Center on Spring Street, and includes two signature exhibitions, Creating Community: The Jews of Atlanta from 1845 to The Present, and Absence of Humanity: The Holocaust Years, and the Marlene J. and William A. Schwartz Special Exhibitions Gallery. The Breman Museum includes the Ida Pearle and Joseph Cuba Archives and Genealogy Center, The Weinberg Center for Holocaust Education (part of The Breman's Education department), and a library of secondary research materials.


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Bill & Elinor Breman, at the opening of The Breman Jewish Heritage & Holocaust Museum in 1996.

Bill & Elinor Breman, at the opening of The Breman Jewish Heritage & Holocaust Museum in 1996.