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Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling

Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling
Quote from Danny Chudnow. Photo courtesy Dick Chudnow.
Louis Paley Scrap Yard at 612 Vliet Street. Image courtesy Harold Paley and Phil Paley.
Wisconsin Salvage Collectors Union, 1942. Image courtesy Dan, David, and Robert Chudnow and Lois Infeld.
Recycling Today Cover. Image courtesy of Arnie Peltz.
Alter Trading Corporation, 2021. Image courtesy Cassie A. Sacotte.
Milwaukee Materials Recovery Facility (#TheMRF).

October 8 – January 30, 2022

A peddler calling “Junk man! Any rags, any bones, any bottles today?”  
The clatter of cans pouring into a baler. 
The grinding of a building-sized car shredder. 
The whistle of a cargo ship carrying obsolete computers to sorting facilities around the globe.

These are the sounds of scrap recycling: an industry that turns waste into raw materials, has given millions of people a livelihood and a community, and has propelled American industry and innovation for centuries.  

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.  

Extend your learning by:
 – Visiting the Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling website created by Jewish Museum of Maryland.
 – Reading one of the books about scrap, recycling or climate change suggested by Milwaukee Public Library.

Click here to plan your visit to see Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling.  
Comprehensive virtual tours and creative workshops are available to support this exhibit. Contact Ellie Gettinger for more information. 


Public Programs for Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling

Virtual Opening Preview of Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling
Thursday, October 7, 7:00 PM

Virtual LOMED Book Club: All-of-a-Kind Family
Tuesday, October 12, 7:00 PM

Built on Scrap Part I – Wisconsin History and the Scrap Industry (Virtual)
Tuesday, October 19, 12:00 PM

Community Electronic Recycling Day
Sunday, October 31, 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Environmental Justice: Exploring the Intersection of Waste, Race, and Health (Virtual)
Wednesday, November 3, 7:00 PM

Community Textile Recycling Day
Sunday, November 7, 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM

A Greener Chanukah: Virtual DIY Upcycled Menorah Workshop
Sunday, November 7, 1:00 PM

America Recycles Day
Monday, November 15, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Free Museum Admission

Junkyard Planet with Best-Selling Author Adam Minter (Virtual)
Thursday, November 18, 7:00 PM

Picking Up the Pieces: Milwaukee Holocaust Survivors and the Scrap Industry  
Thursday, December 9, 7:00 PM

Recycle for Good with Department of Public Works (Virtual)
Wednesday, December 15, 12:00 PM

Built on Scrap Part II – Scrapping Stereotypes: Perceptions of the Industry in Pop Culture  
January TBD

Click here for a full list of programs at Jewish Museum Milwaukee.   


Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling was created by the Jewish Museum of Maryland and is accompanied by a Wisconsin-focused section curated by Jewish Museum Milwaukee.

Presenting Sponsor:
Alter Trading Corporation

Magnate
Brico Fund
Mellowes Family and Charter Manufacturing Company
Wisconsin Humanities*

Entrepreneur:
Anonymous Fund of the Milwaukee Jewish Community Foundation
Suzy B. Ettinger Fund of the Milwaukee Jewish Community Foundation
Frieda and William Hunt Memorial Trust
Jason & Susan Pelz, Mara & Gary Lappin, Danny & Shara Pelz, and David & Allie Pelz

Groundbreaker:  
WE Energies Foundation 
Jeff Schuster and Marcia Schuster

Trader
Harry Pelman in Memory of Pete and Luba Pelman  
Sam and Jen Essak

Dealer:
Susan Callen
Richard Chudnow and Jennifer Rupp
ComedySportz Milwaukee
Max and Anneliese Dickman
Cindy and Mark Levy
Karen Schapiro and Douglas Frazer in honor of Maurice Mixer

Media Sponsor:
Wisconsin Public Radio 90.7 | The Ideas Network

*Funded in part by a grant from Wisconsin Humanities, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the State of Wisconsin. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Wisconsin Humanities strengthens the roots of community life through educational and cultural programs that inspire civic participation and individual imagination.