Open today: 12PM - 4PM

Past Exhibits

Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans During WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties

February 18 – May 29, 2022

Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties examines the terrifying period in U.S. history when the government scapegoated and imprisoned thousands of people of Japanese ancestry. It tells the story of the forced removal of 120,000 Japanese American citizens and legal residents from their homes during World War II without due process or other constitutional protections to which they were entitled. This multimedia exhibition illustrates the impact this fear-based rebuke has on those who experience it firsthand and the lasting repercussions on the generations that followed. The exhibit featured imagery by noted American photographers Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams, alongside works by incarcerated Japanese American artist Toyo Miyatake and artifacts from the Chicago-based Japanese American Service Committee collection

Click here to learn more about Then The Came for Me.

Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling

October 8, 2021 – January 30, 2022

For over 200 years, discarded metals, rags, paper, and animal hides have provided economic opportunities for immigrants and native-born Americans who collected, stored, brokered, and sold them – scrappers. The work was grueling, scrappers were stigmatized, and the industry was criticized as a source of social and environmental ills. Still, generations of individuals and families gravitated toward the work—including many Jewish scrappers, who made up seventy to ninety percent of the industry for at least half of the 20th century.  

Click here to learn more about Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling.

Brother, Can You Spare A Dime: Jewish Artists of the WPA

June 17 – September 5, 2021

The everyday worker, like the artist, is critical to national infrastructure. This comparison and connection is visually evident in one of the most devastating periods of US history – the Great Depression. The convergence of these notions and the artwork it generated by artists of diverse backgrounds, many of them Jewish, were part of the foundation for the establishment of the Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) visual arts arm, the Federal Art Project from 1935-1943. 

Artists of disparate beliefs and upbringings participated in and were impacted by the WPA. Regionalism assisted in identifying an artist’s provenance – whether an urban backdrop depicting a neglected New York tenement, rustic midwestern farms, boats docked at coastal ports, or laborers hard at work in sundry settings. Featuring work by Jewish artists in local and regional collections, this exhibit will explore individual and collective contributions and their WPA-Federal Art Project legacies. 

Click here to learn more about Brother, Can You Spare A Dime: Jewish Artists of the WPA.

To Paint is to Live: The Artwork of Erich Lichtblau-Leskly

February 19 –  May 30, 2021

The exhibition highlights the life and works of Erich Lichtblau-Leskly, a Czech Jewish painter from Moravia whose peaceful life with his wife Elsa and promising career as a commercial designer were shattered following the Nazi partition and subsequent invasion of Czechoslovakia. Following the invasion, they moved to Prague and were eventually deported to Theresienstadt.  

Though imprisoned and forced into slave labor, Leskly continued to use art to express himself, document life around him, and make sense of the horrid situation. His satiric, cartoonish representations of daily life in Theresienstadt juxtapose shocking scenes of banal brutality with a light, ironic style, exposing the absurdity and audacity of his and other’s experience while remaining jarringly human. Miraculously kept secret and saved by his wife, view Leskly’s originals collected and displayed next to restored, further detailed pieces from the artist’s life in Israel after the war. 

Click here to learn more about To Paint is to Live: The Artwork of Erich Lichtblau-Leskly.

Luba Lukova: Designing Justice

September 17, 2020 – January 31, 2021

Internationally recognized designer and artist Luba Lukova creates images that she hopes will catalyze action and change the world. Through 34 posters, tackling a range of social justice topics, including income inequality, immigration, gender inequality, the environment, and more, Lukova’s work resonates on a global level. Along with these vivid, captivating works, visitors will encounter multimedia and interactive components, inviting them to become participants in creating their own experiential journeys. Whether pinpointing essential themes of humanity or succinctly visualizing social commentary, Lukova’s work is undeniably powerful and thought-provoking.

Click here to learn more about Luba Lukova: Designing Justice.

Shakespeare’s in the Alley: A Tribute to Bob Dylan

September 17, 2020 – January 31, 2021

The concurrent exhibit, Shakespeare’s in the Alley: A Tribute to Bob Dylan, will further explore the theme of social justice. A series of hand-stenciled fabric banners of varying lengths suspended from above create an immersive ‘virtual forest’ experience that pays tribute to the lyrics, poetry and socially-minded musical contributions of Jewish-American singer-songwriter and Nobel Prize in Literature recipient, Bob Dylan.

Click here to learn more about Shakespeare’s in the Alley: A Tribute to Bob Dylan.

Fired Up: The Pottery of Abe Cohn

Virtual Exhibit
May 2020

Paying tribute to a man who taught, encouraged and flamed the creative spark of countless individuals was what blues musician and clay enthusiast Steve Cohen had in mind when he shared his idea for an online exhibit about renowned Wisconsin potter, Abe Cohn. With Steve’s collection of Abe Cohn’s work and recollections of the iconic pottery mentor as a jumping-off point, other of Abe’s friends and family members shared their memories and photographs of his work.

Click here to see Fired Up: The Pottery of Abe Cohn.

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

January 24 – August 30, 2020

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.

Click here to learn more about The Girl in the Diary: Searching for Rywka from the Łódź Ghetto.

Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini

September 26, 2019 – January 5, 2020

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 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.

Click here to learn more about Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini.

Chagall’s Le Cirque

June 14 – September 8, 2019

For Marc Chagall, the circus stage was the ideal setting for the dreamlike, extraordinary acts ever-present in his art. In Le Cirque, he summoned the spectacle of the circus experience in all its colorful variety — clowns, acrobats and women riding bareback, stands brimming with onlookers — as a vivid metaphor for the sometimes precarious artist-lifestyle he had decided to lead. With time, the circus came to lie at the very heart of his personal mythology and became symbolic of the human condition.

Le Cirque consists of 23 color and 15 black-and-white lithographs published in 1967 by Tériade Éditions. The whimsical prints will be accompanied by a display that explores Wisconsin’s grand circus history, and celebrates the tradition of Milwaukee’s Great Circus Parade.

Click here to learn more about Chagall’s Le Cirque.

Pictures of Resistance: The Wartime Photographs of Jewish Partisan Faye Schulman

March 29 – May 26, 2019

The lives of partisans depended on their ability to remain unseen, undocumented and unidentifiable. But one fighter, Faye Schulman, had a camera.

The only known Jewish partisan to capture the World War II experience on film, Schulman’s rare collection of images captures the camaraderie, horror and loss, bravery and triumph of the rag-tag, tough partisans – some Jewish, some not – who fought the Nazis and their collaborators.

Click here to learn more about Pictures of Resistance.

Blacklist: The Hollywood Red Scare

October 12, 2018 – February 10, 2019
Extended to March 10 by Popular Demand

Blacklist: The Hollywood Red Scare is a multi-sensory exhibit that explores the intersection of politics, art, economics, and the social dynamics that impacted the American First Amendment rights of speech, religion, and assembly during Hollywood’s Red Scare. Through personal narratives of those who were blacklisted, members of House Un-American Activities Committee or HUAC, and film executives, Blacklist examines the shifting definition of what it meant and means to be a patriotic American.

Blacklist: The Hollywood Red Scare is originally curated by Jewish Museum Milwaukee and is available for travel.

Click here to learn more about Blacklist: The Hollywood Red Scare.
Click here to learn about bringing the exhibit to your venue.

Stitching Histories From the Holocaust

April 8 – September 16, 2018

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 Histories 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 Histories 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.

Click here to learn more about Stitching Histories From the Holocaust.
Click here to learn more about the original Stitching History From the Holocaust exhibit and the story of Hedy and Paul Strnad.

Allied in the Fight: Jews, Blacks and the Struggle for Civil Rights

January 19 – March 25, 2018

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.

Learn more about this exhibit>>

The Seventh Day: Revisiting Shabbat

September 13 – December 31, 2017

In an era when technology and culture have eroded the boundaries separating work, play, and repose, their works invite us to delve into the possibilities and new definitions of renewal symbolized by the ‘day of rest.’

Thirty international artists explore one of the pillars of Jewish practice and belief: the sanctity of the Sabbath through provocative works of art. The Seventh Day explores how the Sabbath is observed from a perspective of diversity including various religious traditions, mindfulness practices, and the back to nature movement.

Learn more about this exhibit>>

Moments & Markers: An Adolph Rosenblatt Retrospective

June 16 – August 27, 2017

Celebrate the creative contributions, imaginative mind and indelible legacy of the beloved artist, teacher, Milwaukee community member and consummate observer, Adolph Rosenblatt. From paintings and drawings, to bronze cast works, ceramic figures, sculptural tableaus and large-scale installations, Adolph’s pieces offer a unique window into both historical and contemporary life. The layers of visual depth which comprise his work reveal the expressive spontaneity of his philosophy and process.

Moments & Markers, a retrospective exhibit, explores the people, places and unscripted occurrences that make Milwaukee exceptional, as well as the headlines and global events Adolph captured for perpetuity through his unique vision and lens.

Learn more about this exhibit>>

Holocaust by Bullets

April 20 – May 23, 2017

Places can be deceiving. Where grass and trees now grow were once scenes of unspeakable horror — killing grounds where more than 2 million human beings were murdered solely for their religion or ethnic heritage. Without our memory, those places and times will be forgotten. In conjunction with Yahad – In Unum (Together – In One),  the Milwaukee Jewish  Federation presented Holocaust by Bullets, a special exhibition detailing the work to preserve the memories and places in the former Soviet Union where the Nazis killed more than 2.2 million Jewish and Roma people.

Learn more about this exhibit>>

Fabric of Survival: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz

February 17 – May 26, 2017

Esther Nisenthal Krinitz was 15 when she defied Nazi orders, separating from her family as they and the other Jews of their Polish village reported to a nearby train station. Making their way to a village where they were unknown, Esther and her younger sister survived the war by posing as Polish farm girls. They never saw their family again.

Fifty years later, determined to show her daughters the family she had lost, Esther turned to needle and thread to create a series of 36 hauntingly beautiful, exquisitely detailed works of fabric collage and embroidery – a legacy born of love, loss, and the sheer force of memory.

Learn more about this exhibit>>

Once & Again: Still Lifes by Beth Lipman

September 14, 2016 – January 8, 2017

Inspired by seventeenth-century Dutch still-life paintings, Sheboygan-based artist Beth Lipman creates large-scale, three-dimensional interpretations in glittering glass. We are delighted to bring this mid-career retrospective to Wisconsin to celebrate a local Jewish artist with national reach. Organized by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.

Learn more about this exhibit>>

Project Mah Jongg

June 2 – August 28, 2016

Since the 1920s, the game of mah jongg has ignited the popular imagination with its beautiful tiles, mythical origins, and communal spirit. Come learn the history and meaning of the beloved game that became a Jewish-American tradition. Jewish Museum Milwaukee is excited to bring this acclaimed traveling exhibit for its Midwest debut. This exhibit was curated and circulated by the Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, New York.

Learn more about this exhibit>>

Arthur Szyk: The Art of Illumination

February 7 – May 15, 2016

Considered the greatest 20th century illuminator, in the originally curated exhibit, Arthur Szyk: The Art of Illumination, Jewish Museum Milwaukee explored Szyk’s career as a leading political caricaturist in America during World War ll. Through this survey of Szyk’s impressive and eclectic body of work, JMM addressed aspects of important Jewish historical events and highlighted the capacity of art to affect social change.

Learn more about this exhibit>>

Southern Exposure: Jews of Argentina

October 4, 2015 – January 17, 2016

This exhibit, curated by Jewish Museum Milwaukee, explored how Jews came to Argentina, focusing on the similarities and differences to Milwaukee’s history. We demystify the Jewish experience in Argentina and provide historical context for immigration, community development and anti-Semitism.

Learn more about this exhibit>>

Chasing Dreams

June 10, 2015 -September 7, 2015

Chasing Dreams celebrated baseball and the many fans, players, and characters who helped shape our American story. Every triumph and defeat, every hero on and off the field, has become another chapter in the history we all share. And for immigrants and minority groups especially, it has played a crucial role in understanding, and sometimes challenging, what it means to be American. Jewish Museum Milwaukee celebrated baseball with a core interactive exhibit from the National Museum of Jewish American History in Philadelphia and locally borrowed memorabilia.

Learn more about this exhibit>>

Founders & Visionaries: Wisconsin Jewish Artists from the Milwaukee Art Museum

March 15 – May 31, 2015
Image from Founders and Visionaries exhibit at Jewish Museum Milwaukee

This exhibit explored four Jewish artists whose work as both teachers and artists changed the Wisconsin art scene.Whether it be Joseph Friebert’s social realism, Fred Berman’s introduction of abstract expressionism into a Regionalist-dominated Midwest, Aaron Bohrod’s rediscovery of still-life art for his generation, or Alfred Sessler’s lithographs and innovative “reduction block” method, Wisconsin’s twentieth-century Jewish artists made their mark as true founders and visionaries.

Stitching History from the Holocaust

September 14, 2014 – March 1, 2015

Prague 1939: A True Story of Talent Lost. Paul and Hedy Strnad are trapped as the Nazis close in. Can Hedy’s dress designs and their cousin in Milwaukee help them to get to the United States? All efforts failed. Hedy and Paul perished in the Holocaust, but their memory lives on in the letter and sketches which form the core of this haunting exhibit. Come and experience Hedy’s designs brought to life. This blockbuster exhibit was covered in The New York Times and an award-winning documentary was created by Milwaukee Public Television. The exhibit received the American Association of State and Local History History in Progress (HIP) Award, one of three awarded nationally.

Learn more at our Stitching History From the Holocaust website.  
This is exhibit is also available to travel.

Jews Who Rock: 60 Years of Jews in Rock-N-Roll

April 27 – August 10, 2014
JMM JewswhoRockWebsiteArt

This exciting exhibit examined the Jewish influences in rock and roll and popular music through representational sampling of the countless singers, songwriters, musicians, concert promoters and record company executives who worked on stage and behind the scenes to build a musical foundation and rich legacy which continues to thrive today. This exhibit was created by Art Visions.

Andy Warhol: 10 Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century

December 15, 2013 – March 30, 2014

Depicting noted individuals from various disciplines, these brightly-colored creations feature historical figures and renowned luminaries of Jewish culture. Warhol’s large scale portraits allude to the grandiosity associated with fame while establishing an intimacy between subject and viewer.

From Pushcarts to Professionals: The Evolution of Jewish Business in Milwaukee

August 18 – December 1, 2013

Whether they continued to practice a trade from the Old Country or started from scratch in the New World, Jews made an impact on the business community in Milwaukee. Factors such as the Depression, World War II and the GI Bill affected the workforce and career paths. From the fruit and vegetable filled carts pushed down cobbled streets to major corporations, this exhibit will explore the nearly 170-year history of Milwaukee Jewish business and its diversity through moving stories, artifacts and oral histories. This exhibit was on display from September to December 2013.

Felix Lembersky: Soviet Form, Jewish Context

March 14 – July 14, 2013
JMM Lembersky web art

Felix Lembersky’s art (b. Lublin, Poland, 1913; d. Leningrad, 1970) takes the viewer on a journey through the Jewish experience in the Soviet Union. His canvases capture a complex world where life, faith, and the creative spirit persevere amid war and state-sponsored terror. Educated under both the Soviet avant-garde and the formative years of Socialist Realism, Lembersky realigned realist and modernist forms to create emotionally charged and thought-provoking imagery that served as a viable alternative to state-mandated art.

Revealed: Private Collections from the Jewish Community

December 16, 2012 – February 28, 2013
JMM RevealedFBbgd

Collections provide insight into history, curiosities, experience, personal passions and values. The Jewish Museum Milwaukee showcased fine art, Judaica and memorabilia from local collectors. Many of the pieces on display will make their public debut in this exhibit. See hidden treasures from throughout the Jewish community revealed.

Exclusionary Measures: Mount Sinai Hospital & Brynwood Country Club

August 19 – November 25, 2012

Faced with anti-Semitism, Jewish immigrants created institutions to address employment, health care, education and recreation. This exhibit explored the ongoing legacies of Mount Sinai Hospital and Brynwood Country Club, organizations that affected the Jewish and greater community of Milwaukee.

Mazel Tov! A Celebration of Jewish Weddings

May 13 – July 31, 2012

Tradition and Change – Symbolism and Celebration. The Jewish wedding has been a foundation of Judaic religion and culture since Biblical times. The act of uniting a bride and groom is considered a mitzvah, or good deed and demonstrates the commitment of two people to each other as well as to the Jewish people. While customs central to the wedding date back centuries, younger generations have created new traditions reflective of their lives.

One: Jewish Photographic Portraits by Arnold Newman

December 25, 2011 – March 30, 2012

This exhibit explored the work of Arnold Newman through his Jewish subjects. He is considered to be the father of environmental photography. In his six decade career, he was able to capture people from diverse backgrounds and professions in their element.

Mildred Fish Harnack: The Story of a Wisconsin Woman’s Resistance

August 7 – November 27, 2011
Extended through December 4th by Popular Demand

Through artistic and historical displays, the Jewish Museum Milwaukee presented the life and work of this Milwaukee hero. Come and learn this fascinating story of personal courage and the difference one individual can make by standing up in the face of adversity.

The Children of Israel Journeyed: Selections from the Chagall Bible Series

March 6 – June 6, 2011

The exhibit included twenty-one etchings by Marc Chagall, on loan from the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University and displayed alongside the monumental Chagall tapestry which hangs in the Museum atrium.

Growing Up Milwaukee: Camping

August – December 2010

Growing Up Milwaukee: Youth Groups

August – December 2009