Sherwin Museum of Jewish Art – Tulsa, OK
In 1964, a group of Jewish families went to the World’s Fair in Queens, NY. When they saw the spiral-shaped American-Israel Pavilion, which took visitors through 4,000 years of Jewish history, it spurred this idea of what if? What if Tulsa had its own collection and fine art Jewish gallery?
From that idea came action.
They started a collector’s group that focused on buying ancient Judaica relics and ceremonial objects and donated them to the Fenster Art Gallery at Congregation B’nai Emunah. Eventually the gallery outgrew that space and in 2004, the Sherwin Museum of Jewish Art was moved south to the Jewish Federation of Tulsa. It is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary at the south Tulsa location.
About the collection:
Mickel Yantz, the Director of Collections and Exhibitions, describes the museum as ever-changing. “We have a permanent Judaica section, the largest Judaica section in the southwest, and Jewish items from synagogues here in Oklahoma dating pre-statehood.” Being part Jewish myself, I dove into some research and found that Jewish settlers began coming to Oklahoma and Indian Territory as early as 1875. According to the American Jewish Year Book, there were 1,000 Jews in Oklahoma Territory in 1901.
But this museum is not just about preserving Jewish history; it’s determined to bring cultures together with a message of hope and understanding. “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 it’s still here, 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
They also try to have fun and balance profound faith and cultural art with light-hearted temporary exhibits that change two to three times a year, like; Jewish in Rock, Jewish Comic-Con, Jewish Baseball, and Jews in Golf. Did you know Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of KISS were both Jewish boys? Also, Simon and Garfunkel and Bob Dylan? Pink and Lenny Kravitz both have a Jewish grandparent, as I have. Mickel expresses how they hope to get as diverse of community and guests as possible. “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
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Tulsa – Warren Place
6110 S Yale Ave, Tulsa, OK 74136
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