Hundreds of invited guests and elected officials participated in the grand opening festivities of the National Museum of American Jewish History in Old City over the weekend.
Vice President Joe Biden along with other dignitaries and city leaders dedicated the 100,000 square foot, five story museum located in Old City during an emotional ceremony Sunday.
A star-studded gala was held Saturday night featuring big names in the entertainment industry including Jerry Seinfeld and Bette Midler. One guest grabbing everyone's attention was Barbra Streisand. She posed next to an exhibit featuring the costume she wore in "Yentl" in 1983.
The new museum's mission aims to tell for the first time the complete story of the Jewish experience in America.
Sidney Kimmel, a major donor to the museum, was also in attendance.
"This country offers freedom. If you work hard and get an education or are fortunate to get an education...it represents an opportunity that does not exist in too many other countries," Kimmel said.
The museum takes travelers on an exploration of 350 years of Jewish life in the U.S., and highlights themes of freedom, civil rights, prejudice and assimilation.
The $150 million facility replaces a small brick building a block away that had a scant 40 objects on display when it opened for the city's 1976 Bicentennial celebrations.
On the first floor, an "Only in America" gallery uses video, audio testimonials and personal belongings to examine the contributions of 18 Jewish Americans — chosen by a public vote — including Estee Lauder, Jonas Salk and Steven Spielberg.
Spielberg's first camera is featured as well as Albert Einstein's pipe.
The second, third and fourth floors use films, interactive displays and artifacts to trace the history of the Jewish experience from the arrival of the first Jews to North America in 1654 to the present, while the top floor will host rotating exhibitions and events.
The museum opens to the general public on Nov. 26.