Max Dunbar has been CEO of the Manchester Jewish Museum since 2011, leading it through its recent refurbishment project.
The museum reopened in August 2021, following an extensive refurbishment that saw it doubling its original space, adding a new gallery, studio, kitchen, shop and café. The grand reopening also marked the launch of a new programme, establishing the museum’s mission to use Jewish stories to connect to the world. The Manchester Jewish Museum holds over 31,000 objects and personal histories and tells the story of Jewish Manchester as well as wider stories of migration, community and identity.
Speaking to blooloop about the project earlier this year, he said:
“The museum first opened in 1984, housed in a former synagogue building. I started at the museum about 10 years ago. At that point, there was a sense, having talked to a lot of people, that the building itself was very intimidating, and it didn’t really appeal to many non-Jewish audiences. People would say, ‘I’m not Jewish, so am I allowed to come in?’
“Straight away, we recognised there was an issue. We are a museum for everyone, and our collections explore wider issues around journeys, communities and identities.
“We wanted to address that problem; to invite people in and create a new building that was a more welcoming, open environment. One where everyone would feel welcomed, and also everyone would want to come in. That was a large part of the thinking behind it.”
Prior to his role at Manchester Jewish Museum, Dunbar was project manager of The Everton Collection at Liverpool Record Office, and also previously served as a curator at the World Rugby Museum in Twickenham. He is Chair of the HiDDEN 8 Heritage Network.
Dunbar holds an MA in Museology and a BA in History, both from the University of East Anglia.