National Museum of American Jewish History files for bankruptcy

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The National Museum of American Jewish History has filed for bankruptcy, citing debt from the construction of its building as the reason why.

The 100,000 square foot museum on 5th and Market streets was purposefully built next to Independence Mall. Its CEO says the mission is to tell the story of strength and survival from the perspective of an American Jew.

"Americans Jews wanted to be able to talk about what America has done for them and what they have done for America," said Dr. Misha Galperin, the interim CEO of the National Museum of American Jewish History.

Galperin, however, says the $150 million construction cost to open the museum in its current location is still burdening debtors.

"We needed to get the courts to help us because we could not carry the burden of debt anymore," said Galperin.

On Sunday, the museum filed for bankruptcy. The 14-page filing lists $30 million of debt to bondholders.

It's a revelation that had neighbors and visitors in one of the city's highest tourist corners buzzing.

"I don't know, I thought they were doing pretty good, but evidently, I guess people have problems," said Dwayne Cooper, who lives in Old City.

"That's sad. I find it sad that museums can't support themselves because I think it's important for people to learn about history," said Judy Holton, a tourist visiting Philadelphia with her family.

Galperin says he hopes the courts and donors will intervene and the help will make the museum stronger. In the meantime, he says the museum will continue to operate on its normal schedule and move forward with its regular promotions, including free admission this month.

"The revenue we get from sales or visitors is a relatively small portion of a museum's revenue stream, so we would welcome the public's support," said Galperin.
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