Bernstein looks back as Manchester museum looks forward


The contribution to local life of Sir Howard Bernstein, who recently retired as chief executive of Manchester City Council, is highlighted in an exhibition at the city’s Jewish museum. The opening also served as the launch of an appeal to Manchester Jewry to contribute the £500,000 shortfall on the museum’s £5 million expansion project.

As city council CEO for almost 20 years, Sir Howard masterminded the rebuilding of Manchester’s city centre after the IRA bombing in 1996 and was heavily involved in the creation of Manchester’s Metrolink system, the Manchester airport group and the successful bid for the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Speaking to the JC before the opening, he said it was “particularly pleasing” that the exhibition was being hosted by the Jewish museum at an exciting time in its development.

“For me, the museum has the potential to be a hugely influential factor in the continued cohesiveness and economic success of Manchester,” he said.

The revamped premises, expected to open in the summer of 2020, would provide “a world-class permanent gallery bringing to life the social history of one of Britain’s oldest and diverse communities” and a kosher restaurant “encouraging visitors to enjoy traditional Jewish food while also educating them about kosher dietary laws”. It would further offer a learning and community studio for use by schools and for community classes.

“I think what will become increasingly important is the way in which the museum, which has always been a huge local Jewish heritage asset, celebrates the contribution Jewish people and organisations have made to the wider success of Manchester,” Sir Howard added. 

“We want to expand that capability, looking at how we commemorate the Holocaust and Holocaust survivors, and also the contribution which survivors and their offspring have made to the life of the city. 

“That’s important. But so is the way in which we address awareness about the Jewish way of life with other communities, the way in which we support community cohesion and expand our outreach.”

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