We are saddened by the loss of the Jewish Museum’s Milwaukee President Barbie Blutstein. Barbie unexpectedly passed away on September 28. She was knowledgeable, vivacious, positive, and a natural connector of people and ideas. Barbie’s natural inclination toward inclusiveness, her passion for the Jewish Museum, her belief in people and her boundless energy was a source for inspiration for those who worked with her and were touched by her kindness.
Barbie was instrumental in so many ways. From mentor, to idea generator, to natural connector she impacted the mission of the Museum immeasurably. She secured important donations for the archives, identified people to serve on committees, introduced new audiences to Museum programs, suggested exhibitions and programs, met with stakeholders, connected people, served as a sounding board for staff, and so much more.
Her community history and memory were essential to the Museum. After the merger of Brynwood Country Club and the Wisconsin Club, Barbie found out that Brynwood was throwing out the old pictures and memorabilia. She grabbed the Museum’s archivist, Jay Hyland, and picked up these items, which became the basis of the exhibit, “Exclusionary Measures: Mount Sinai Hospital and Brynwood Country Club.” She and I had the opportunity to talk about the exhibit on Milwaukee Public Television’s I Remember Milwaukee. Her verve comes through this interview and it was so exciting to hear her explain her experience with both organizations.
As we mourn Barbie – the Museum’s president, committed volunteer, cheerleader, advocate and friend – we will miss most her warmth and care. May her memory be a blessing.