About Us

Berenbaum Jacobs Associates (BJA) was established by Michael Berenbaum and Edward Jacobs following successful collaboration on a variety of projects. The firm was conceived in order to provide a comprehensive and integrated solution for designing Museums, Special Exhibitions, Memorials and Educational Centers.

BJA has garnered demonstrable expertise in all areas of concept articulation, planning, design, media production and fabrication. As educators and designers, BJA sees the Museum experience as a unique educational opportunity to engage, broaden and deepen the visitor’s perspective through powerfully immersive experiences.

The fields that BJA specializes in are narrative historical, sociological and Identity Museums which contend with some of the most difficult and controversial subject matter facing humanity today. These fields include Human Rights, Genocide, Tolerance, Ethnic Heritage as well as Historic and Identity narratives. BJA has been involved in consultation, design and fabrication of numerous Museums and Memorials and is currently working on various large scale projects in the US and in Europe.  Given its long and diverse experience, BJA knows how to work with the Museum’s professional staff, associated scholars and curators as well as board and campaign leadership to conceptualize and implement a project and ensure its intellectual rigor.

First and foremost we are educators. We intimately understand the pedagogical process. It is this knowledge that we bring into the world of Exhibition Design.

BJA’s Methodology begins with listening: listening to the stakeholders/clients and to their goals and aspirations; listening and reading from the factual data, histories and personal narratives that are meant to be realized in the exhibition. As historians we then employ our own research methodologies to insure that the scholarship is the most current and that the foundational account is as expansive and deep as possible. We then craft a holistically integrated conceptual narrative in which the connections between topics and chapters create a seamless, organic and contiguous narrative trajectory.

A Museum must primarily be a storytelling institution. Unlike most artifact-centered Museums which tell the stories of the artifacts they possess, BJA believes that a Museum, both in design and exhibition—must be driven by the story it has to tell as integrated into the ethos of contemporary society. On the basis of that story, artifacts are collected, photographs gathered, diverse media—film, video, narrative tale- compiled, text composed, and the exhibition designed.

Unique to BJA’s approach and methodology is the use of artistry and inventiveness in exhibition design. While artifacts, objects, images and text are the all-important tools for creating an exhibition, BJA excels in using these elements in distinct and imaginative presentations. BJA attempts to create Exhibitionary environments in which the artifacts and objects buttress the overarching narrative. Museums and exhibitions are created as a statement of the times and place they are created in. BJA believes that when appropriately executed, artistic and imaginative approaches  enhance underlying educational content as well as overall visitor experience. They amplify the exhibition’s educational impact by creatively enhancing its environment. The goal is to layer information and create an Exhibition that is intellectually informative and emotionally compelling. Museums are not encyclopedias on the wall and few people take the time to read in depth while walking through them. A Museum must provide information on multiple levels. The result must be an experience that engages the casual visitor and more deeply informs the already engaged and even the highly knowledgeable visitor.


Michael Berenbaum

Partner

Dr. Michael Berenbaum is a writer, lecturer, and teacher consulting in the conceptual development of museums and the development of historical films. He is director of the Sigi Ziering Institute at the American Jewish University where he is also a Professor of Jewish Studies. From 1988–93 he served as Project Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, overseeing its creation. For three years, he was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. He also served as Deputy Director of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust where he authored its Report to the President of the United States, the foundational document of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum to this day. Berenbaum is the author and editor of twenty two books, scores of scholarly articles, and hundreds of journalistic pieces. He was the Managing Editor of the Second Edition of the award winning Encyclopedia Judaica,  a 16 million word, 22 volume compendium of the Jewish history, religion and civilization. He has been producer, executive producer, historical consultant, interviewee and writer for many films, including One Survivor Remembers and The Last Days that won Academy Awards and  Emmys.

Edward Jacobs

Partner

Edward Jacobs is a designer who focuses in the fields of Interpretive Planning, Conceptual Design and Exhibition Design. Working with Berenbaum, Jacobs has been co-conceptual designer and interpretative planner while spearheading the firm’s Exhibition Design department. Prior to founding BJA with his associate for the last 10 years, Dr. Michael Berenbaum, Jacobs was a principal at the Berenbaum Group where he worked on a variety of experiential projects. Jacobs’ background in Holocaust projects was formulated during the 14 year period when he was a lead advisor to Director of Pedagogy at Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust Center. During that period, Jacobs also operated his own multi-disciplinary, concept and design firm producing renowned projects worldwide ranging from public-space projects, spiritual environments, educational centers, memorial sites, synagogue interiors, industrial and product design, and graphic design. He is a recognized expert in the field of communication architecture, creating unique and creative presentation solutions for his clients.