Readers who aren't familiar with Spertus might recognize the organization's main campus -- a 10-story glass building at 610 S. Michigan Avenue which cost $55 million, as Blair Kamin reported in the Tribune on Nov. 25, 2007.
The name change is part of an "organization-wide effort to sharpen its mission," according to the Spertus release, which represents a "new identity [that] accentuates the nearly 90-year-old institution’s commitment to providing dynamic learning opportunities for adults. These opportunities are rooted in Jewish wisdom and culture and designed to enable both personal growth and the development of community leaders."
That's a lot of PR-speak, which may not satisfy all Chicagoans that Spertus is moving beyond its embarrassing censoring of Imaginary Coordinates, a 2008 exhibit of Israeli and Palestinian maps of the Holy Land.
Following pressure at the time from unnamed donors, who disapproved of works that were critical of Israel, the exhibit was temporarily, and then permanently closed. "This has nothing to do with censorship," then-Spertus president Howard Sulkin said. "We would like to believe that there be just a blip about that."
It will be interesting to see in the coming weeks and years to what extent, if at all, Spertus -- new name and all -- grapples with timely and relevant topics and themes in its museum, or whether it self-identifies more as a space that celebrates Jewish kitsch.