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Upcoming Special Exhibits

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


Allied in the Fight: Jews, Blacks and the Struggle for Civil Rights
January 19 – March 25, 2018
Opening Preview: Thursday, January 18, 7 pm

Allied in the Fight explores the partnership between Jewish and African American leaders in confronting systematic racism in the United States. The exhibit addresses Black-Jewish collaboration within the Civil Rights Movement and the complicated nature of Jewish contributions to the Civil Rights movement through artifacts, archival materials and information from a national perspective.

Allied in the Fight is a part of the Milwaukee-wide initiative, “200 Nights of Freedom,” commemorating the 50th anniversary of the city’s 1967-68 Open Housing Marches. These marches took place over 200 consecutive days in support of the passing of a fair housing bill and were sponsored and organized by the Milwaukee NAACP Youth Council, its Commando unit, and Alderwoman Vel Phillips along with other supporters.

Artifacts and other materials from American Jewish Historical Society, Leo Baeck Institute, and Yeshiva University Museum, the University of Wisconsin – Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Black Historical Society, and the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Crossing the Line display.


Stitching History from the Holocaust
April 8 – September 23, 2018
Opening Preview: Thursday, April 18, 7 pm

After traveling to venues across the country, this highly acclaimed original exhibit returns to Jewish Museum Milwaukee. With this reinstallation, JMM is expanding the discussion around immigration and cross-continental communication, including two new stories of families attempting to flee the Holocaust.

At its core, Stitching History From the Holocaust tells the story of Hedwig Strnad and her husband Paul through the letters to their Milwaukee cousin and the dress designs they sent in the hopes of getting visas. Hedy and Paul were ultimately killed in the Holocaust, but her dress designs survived. The centerpiece of this exhibit is 8 dresses lovingly created by the Milwaukee Repertory Theater Costume Shop. These dresses provide visitors with a tangible connection to the loss of talent in the Holocaust.

Accompanying Stitching History are two more family stories of immigration:

  • The Oelsner family ends up fleeing to Japanese-occupied Shanghai in 1939, the only place that they could go without a visa. Their daughter Edie was born there and this collection reflects the family’s journey from Nazi Germany, to war-torn Shanghai, and ultimately to the United States.
  • While Mary and George Stern escaped to the United States in 1938, Mary’s mother Sara Spira chose to stay in Germany. Mary and George settled in Racine, Wisconsin and maintained communication with their family trapped in Europe. Sara was deported from Germany to Poland, where she continued to send postcards updating her children on the hardships she faced from the Gorlice Ghetto. Sara perished in the Holocaust.

Each of these stories push visitors to examine interconnected family relationships and the challenges around immigration through the Holocaust.


Blacklist: Hollywood’s Red Scare
Fall 2018 – Spring 2019

The freedoms of speech and assembly are central to the idea of American democracy, but what happens when the rights associated with these freedoms are impacted? How did and does the American public, government, and industry respond to these encroachments. The exhibit will highlight the effects of this intersection of art, politics, and economics and its impact on individuals and the country more broadly.

The people regarded as “Un-American” were disproportionately from minority backgrounds—Jewish, immigrants, gays, and African American.  One person’s subversion is another’s biting commentary on the American experience. This exhibit will explore the factors which led to the Hollywood Blacklist, a time in which these first amendment freedoms and what it meant to be patriotic became central in a cultural battle, one that Americans continue to replay with new and different issues.

Organized and curated by Jewish Museum Milwaukee.