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I liked this story by Penny Schwartz from the Sunday Globe. It’s about the painstaking work of restoring a magnificent synagogue built in the 17th and 18th centuries and destroyed by the Nazis in WW II.

“For the last 10 years, Laura and Rick Brown have been immersed in the art and architecture of Poland’s historic Gwozdziec synagogue. …

“Now, after a decade of research and building small-scale models, the Browns and their international team of 300 carpenters, artists, and students have created a nearly full-scale replica of the the triple-tiered roof and intricately painted ceiling and cupola of the Gwozdziec synagogue, considered one of the most magnificent, well-documented of the wooden synagogues of the era. …

“ ‘They really have done something miraculous,’ said Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, professor of performance studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, who was tapped to lead the museum’s exhibit development team. …

“The Browns’ approach to building, using traditional tools and techniques dating back to the time the synagogue was built, offered something beyond having a copy of the synagogue roof built as a prop, Kirshenblatt-Gimblett said. …

“Both sculptors, the Browns came to the Gwozdziec project as founders and directors of Handshouse Studio, an educational nonprofit in Norwell [Massachusetts] that replicates historic objects using authentic methods. …

“Looking back on the journey, Laura and Rick say they are humbled by the hundreds of people, including many MassArt students and graduates, who have given so much time to this project.

“They are grateful to MassArt for allowing them the flexibility to create courses designed for the project including a series of Lost Historic Paintings’ classes analyzing and replicating quarter-scale, then half-scale models of the Gwozdziec synagogue ceiling panels.

“The 85 percent scale replica represents more than the grandeur of a long ago synagogue, Laura said. ‘This object speaks to a very painful history that is still very alive,’ she said.” More.

Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Artist Rick and Laura Brown at their studio in Hanover, Massachusetts.

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At lunch I went across Fort Point Channel with my colleague Lillian to visit the Children’s Museum. We wanted to see the new exhibit called Boston Black.

It was very nicely done. Lillian was delighted to discover that her AME Zion church was featured in the history part, complete with stained glass Star of David (her church’s building was once a synagogue).

We played all the games but couldn’t seem to operate one that involved connecting circuits — probably because we are not kids. I definitely could have used a kid to remind me how to use the camera on my mobile phone, but Lillian figured out hers and took a photo of the museum’s rendering of her church. (You can’t see the Star of David in her picture, so have a look here at the actual church.)

In addition to the history section, there was a barber shop and hair salon that you could play in, a section on Boston-area Haitians, one on Cape Verdeans, a grocery store with play fruits and vegetables, a magazine stand, quizzes to help you learn about the different cultures, and so on.

One thing we hadn’t realized was that if you come to the Children’s Museum without a child, they hold onto your driver’s license or other picture I.D., and they give you a special pass to wear around your neck in case parents think you seem sketchy. I know I look disreputable, but Lillian is the soul of respectability. 🙂

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