Willesden Jewish Cemetery shortlisted for prestigious museum award

Willesden Jewish Cemetery now a place to explore or relax. Picture: Michael Eleftheriades

Willesden Jewish Cemetery now a place to explore or relax. Picture: Michael Eleftheriades - Credit: Archant

A Jewish cemetery in Willesden has been shortlisted for a museum award.

Willesden Jewish Cemetery’s House of Life heritage experience has been shortlisted for the ‘Untold Stories’ category in the Association for Heritage Interpretation’s 2021 Engaging People Awards.

The awards celebrate the best heritage, nature, culture and science experiences in Britain and Ireland.

The cemetery, in Beaconsfield Road, is up against well-known names including the British Museum and the Museum of London.

The 'Untold Stories' category is for projects telling the story of groups, communities or events that have been overlooked or excluded in the past.


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Steven Wilson, the United Synagogue’s chief executive, said they were all "so proud" that the project has been shortlisted. 

"Our beautiful and historic cemetery is the final resting place for so many of our community’s loved ones and charts the history of London Jewry going back nearly 150 years," he said.

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"The award is testament to the hard work of the House of Life team and the enormous amount of time and effort they, and our many volunteers, have put in to creating a quite unique visitor experience.”

House of Life presents a 150-year view of Willesden Jewish Cemetery, dubbed "the Rolls-Royce of London's Jewish cemeteries" because of the people buried there.

They include pioneering chemist Rosalind Franklin, whose work was central to the understanding of DNA, and Tesco founder Jack Cohen.

House of Life is a visitor experience located outdoors and in the funerary buildings with information and installations across the site including a visitor centre, walking tours and memorials.

Visitors have access to information as they walk around the still active cemetery, information on who the Jewish community were who were buried there in the 1800s and learn about Jewish burial customs.

In 2019 the little known story of the cemetery was revealed for the first time in an exhibition in Willesden Library

The winners for each award will be announced on November 17 and 18, 2021.

More information about Willesden Jewish Cemetery and the House of Life experience visit www.willesdenjewishcemetery.org.uk/

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