Exploring the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art: Tulsa’s Cultural Gem
In 1964, a visionary group of Jewish families attended the World’s Fair in Queens, NY. Struck by the American-Israel Pavilion’s captivating spiral design symbolizing 4,000 years of Jewish history, they pondered – why couldn’t Tulsa, Oklahoma, be home to a dedicated collection and gallery of fine Jewish art? This spark of inspiration gave birth to a reality that stands proudly today: the Sherwin Museum of Jewish Art.
These passionate families established a collectors’ group, fervently
acquiring ancient Judaica relics and ceremonial artifacts. Initially, these precious pieces found a home in the Fenster Art Gallery at Congregation B’nai Emunah. However, the collection’s growth necessitated a more spacious venue, leading to the establishment of the Sherwin Museum of Jewish Art in 2004 within the Jewish Federation of Tulsa. As the museum prepares to celebrate its 20th anniversary, it continues to enlighten visitors with a diverse range of exhibits and stories from the rich Jewish history.
About the collection:
The museum’s Director of Collections and Exhibitions, Mickel Yantz, views the institution as a continually evolving treasure trove. As he puts it, “We have a permanent Judaica section, the largest Judaica section in the southwest, and Jewish items from synagogues here in Oklahoma dating pre-statehood.”
But the Sherwin Museum of Jewish Art isn’t just about preserving artifacts; it also serves as a beacon of unity, enlightening visitors about painful periods in history to foster understanding and hope. Yantz explains, “We tell stories of the Holocaust, the Tulsa Race Massacre, the Trail of Tears, antisemitism, and hate crimes here in Tulsa. We link back because we don’t want people to think that this is something that happened on the other side of the world a long time ago. We want to remind people that hate is still here, and we can do something about it and educate our community with ideas of hope and moving forward.”
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Inside the Museum
Amidst its profound exhibitions, the museum also embraces lighter themes through temporary exhibits. They change two to three times a year, presenting engaging themes such as Jewish in Rock, Jewish Comic-Con, Jewish Baseball, and Jews in Golf. For instance, did you know that rock legends Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of KISS were both Jewish? Yantz adds, “That’s why we try to do these fun things like Comic-Con or Jews in Rock and Roll, to bring in those parties who may not have stepped on campus before in hopes to get their interest, have fun, share, and educate.”
Upon entering the museum lobby, you are immediately immersed in the beautiful four full-sized stained glass windows, one of which is a Tiffany. They date back to 1907, originating from a synagogue in Houston. The museum is open seven days a week (the Jewish staff has off on Saturdays) with a minimal admission fee, free entry to students, teachers, military, and first responders, plus discounts for elders. The Sherwin Museum is part of the Jewish Federation of Tulsa located inside the Jewish Community Center Campus, which also has a school; Mizel Community Day School, an exercise facility, a pool, and a retirement community.
Ready to Plan A Visit?
Find the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art at 2021 E 71st St, Tulsa, OK 74136 or visit their website here: https://www.jewishmuseumtulsa.org.
Local Hotels & Restaurants
Around 71st and Yale you will find a wide assortment of restaurants. Here are some locally owned eateries near the museum:
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Tulsa – Warren Place
6110 S Yale Ave, Tulsa, OK 74136
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