Living Wright: Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art among Tulsa's cultural gems
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Thursday, January 10, 2013
1/10/13 at 6:02 AM
Go to Jason Ashley Wright's Blog
I've never been given a "cook's tour" of anything other than a kitchen.
But that's what Karen York offered when we were recently introduced at The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art, 2021 E. 71st St. It was first on my list of local places to visit in 2013 - spots I've either never been or haven't seen in 10 or more years.
This is definitely a hidden gem in Tulsa's cultural treasure chest. I thought that as soon as entering the lobby, where three gorgeous, tall, stained-glass panels were displayed - one Tiffany, the others Venetian glass, York said.
More visual treats abounded upstairs among the permanent collections, including an intricately crafted silver Hanukkah ship lamp crafted by the Swed Masters Workshop in Jerusalem. Or, my personal favorites, the right- and left-hand Mexican mahogany chairs by surrealist artist Pedro Friedeberg. I was also happy to catch works by celebrated pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, an exhibit that closes Sunday.
But what makes this museum such a treasure isn't the eye candy but the emotional connection it makes with visitors - particularly downstairs in the Kaiser Holocaust Exhibition, the first piece of which is a jarring display of an original Ku Klux Klan robe worn during the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921.
A robe with blood stains.
That was planned purposefully, York explained, to drive home that evil wasn't limited to overseas genocide but creepily close to our backyards.
"It was a long process, not a one-time event," York said of the events leading up to the Holocaust, detailed in the exhibition through photos and hundreds of pieces of memorabilia - occasionally eerie items, like a Nazi armband and banner.
Or the particularly chilling panel describing the different badges given to those in concentration camps - not just Jews but gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses and those who were "asocial," which often included mentally ill or disabled.
Also touching were the oral histories from survivors of concentration camps - local survivors, who were filmed more than 20 years ago by Steven Spielberg, York said.
On my return trip, I look forward to venturing back upstairs to the model synagogue, with its pews from now-defunct Oklahoma temples - a synagogue used by students on the Zarrow Campus, York said.
You can learn about family ceremonies, archaeology, holidays, Jewish life and the Jewish diaspora - but it just may take more than a single cook's tour.
The museum's guide to the permanent collection will be a big help ($9.95, gift shop).
Original Print Headline: Tulsa treasure
The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art
2021 E. 71st St.
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Monday-Friday; 1-5 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $6.50;
ages 55-plus, $5.50;
ages 6-21, $3.50; school
teachers with ID, Blue
Star families, uniformed
For more: 918-492-1818; tulsaworld.com/jewishmuseum
Karen York is curator of the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish
Art, one of Tulsa’s hidden cultural gems. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World file