The origin of the Museo Sefardí’s collections dates to 1911, when the Marquis of Vega-Inclán (1858-1942), royal commissioner of tourism, proposed creating in the El Tránsito Synagogue a small museum of mudejar art and a library of Hebraic studies. In 1915, at the suggestion of the Ministry of Public Instruction’s Expert Board of Archives, Libraries, and Museums, some tombstones with Hebrew inscriptions from the old Jewish cemetery in Toledo were moved to the synagogue. These pieces were found in the city’s Archaeological Museum, which was closed to the public.
After the creation in 1964 of the Museo Sefardí, defined in its foundational decree as the National Museum of Hispano-Jewish Art, the collection was started with pieces requested in trust from different museums in Spain as well as from private individuals.
From the 1980s, the museum started a policy of fundraising to be able to have its own collection as well as carrying out a campaign to produce copies of existing Jewish artifacts in Spain. In addition, there was an increase in the purchase of books in Hebrew, while a basic library of material related to the Museum was started.
Between the 1990s and the start of the 21st Century, the collection continued to grow thanks to various routes. Among these, it is worth mentioning the purchases of the Ministry of Culture and the reception of numerous donations, such as those of the Association of Friends of the Museum. New loans of archaeological and historical objects were received, coming from national and international institutions, as well as ceremonial pieces that belonged to Sephardic families, which allowed the collection to be completed with the living history of the Jewish people. Finally, it is necessary to mention the contributions from the museum’s excavations – the last of which was completed in 2020 – which provide valuable information about the archaeological environment of the synagogue.