Along New York's storied Fifth Avenue, Temple Emanu-El stands as an architectural, cultural, and religious landmark. The building's expansive dimensions and superb craftsmanship combine to create an imposing edifice that reinterprets the traditional decorative motifs of great historical synagogues of earlier eras. The carefully chosen design elements resonate with the echoes of Jewish history across the ages and seamlessly blend biblical motifs with styles found in the medieval synagogues of Islamic and Christian Spain: the great 12th and 13th century Ashkenazic synagogues in Eastern Europe, and the mid-19th century design Reform Oranienburgerstrasse Temple in Berlin. Romanesque, Byzantine, Moorish, Gothic, Nouveau, and Deco architectural styles are blended artistically through the use of vibrant colors, captivating mosaics, warm stone and tiles, and dazzling stained glass. The successful translation of these diverse architectural styles, both within and without, combines with the sheer vastness of the interior to give rise to the inspirational ambience of this sacred space.

Although exceedingly well maintained, the Temple began to show the vicissitudes of time after three-quarters of a century. The imposing size and height made many surfaces inaccessible for cleaning grime built up over the years. Weather had deteriorated the aging gutters and roof leaders, and intruding water damaged the plaster ceiling and stone-and-tile walls. After more than 70 years of continuous usage, the Temple was in need of an extensive restoration program.

This exhibition features photographs taken by the architects upon the completion of the original construction of the Temple in 1929, presented in dialogue with corresponding images taken during the course of the present restoration, completed in 2006.

The restoration and preservation of Temple Emanu-El has proven to be as much a spiritual regeneration as it has been a repairing and cleaning of masonry, metal, and glass. It honors faithfully the original vision of the founders of the congregation, as well as the builders of this landmark structure. It equips both building and congregation to serve subsequent generations of worshipers. It sharpens our appreciation of the creativity of those who designed and built this great Temple. It revitalizes the strong, subtle beauty of this unique physical space. Most important, it invites us now to renew our sprit by offering new inspiration for those who worship here today.