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Upcoming Special Exhibits

Exhibits at Jewish Museum Milwaukee explore the breadth of the Jewish experience and offer visitors to connect with history, culture and the arts.


Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini

September 27, 2019 – January 5, 2020
Opening Preview: Thursday, September 26

Harry Houdini wasn’t born. He was invented.

The world’s most famous magician began life as Erik Weisz, the son of a Hungarian rabbi. In 1878 immigration to the U.S. transformed Erik Weisz into Ehrich Weiss. It was the first of many transformations for the man who would become the first international superstar.

Inescapable, curated by performer and magician David London, tells the story of how Ehrich Weiss became Harry Houdini and investigates the technologies, marketing prowess and entertainment trends that transformed him into a superstar. On one level, the exhibit is pure fun – incorporating magic, escapes, séances, films, rare artifacts and hands-on illusions.  On a deeper level, the exhibit pulls back the curtain, revealing the story of the man behind the image.

Houdini in Wisconsin shines a spotlight on his appearances in the state where he learned the literal tricks of his trade. Throughout the exhibit, visitors also will have the opportunity to try out some of Houdini’s magic tricks, including the world’s smallest version of Houdini’s biggest illusion – making a five-ton elephant “vanish.”


The Girl in the Diary: Searching for Rywka from the Łódź Ghetto

January 24 – May 17, 2020
Opening Preview: Thursday, January 23, 7:00 pm

In 1945 a Soviet doctor found a school notebook in the liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp. It was a diary written by the teenager Rywka Lipszyc in the Łódź Ghetto between October 1943 and April 1944 — the testament of a Jewish girl who lost her siblings and parents, but never lost hope despite moments of doubt. More than 60 years after its discovery, the diary traveled to the United States to the Holocaust Center of Northern California where Dr. Anita Friedman began the task of trying to locate answers about the notebook and its writer. An international research team was established – all them looking for answers and for Rywka Lipszyc.

Rywka’s diary, a moving memoir of life and adolescence in the Łódź Ghetto, is the starting point for this exhibition. Selected passages are supplemented by expert commentary from historians, doctors, psychologists and rabbis. These commentaries help us to understand the context of the times and events Rywka refers to in her diary. The historical and intimate artifacts displayed in the exhibit, including beads, thimbles, and toys, serve as witness to the personal dimensions of the Holocaust.