Celebrating Diversity at Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage

Neshat, Women of Allah (version #2), 1995; Courtesy of The Progressive Corporation

From skin color to gender; body type to physical abilities; political views to religious views; sexual orientation to cultural beliefs; there are countless things that make people unique. And yet, often these differences are not embraced for the diversity they create. The newest exhibit at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage aims to change this notion and harbor a discussion on the importance of accepting differences. The exhibit, About the Right of Being Different: The Art of Diversity and Inclusion at Progressive, opens today and is on display through June 26, 2011.

A table full of colorful but similar block-like houses, a film animating thousands of photographs to tell the story of a woman’s life, a delicate lace pattern burned into a rusty wheelbarrow, a portrait of Oscar Wilde made up of children’s toys and candy, a photograph of Arabic women in traditional outfits; it only seems fitting that the types of artwork are as diverse as the messages they represent.

The exhibition includes seemingly everything, from mixed media pieces incorporating barrettes, fake finger nails and eyelashes to stunning photographs and paintings. The exhibition has expanded beyond the original collection to include 25 new pieces, some of which have never been seen before. Each piece discusses aspects of persecution, perseverance, reflection and more. Accompanying each artist description is a thought-provoking question to focus and direct the viewer’s interpretation of the piece.

Susan Umbenhour, Open Interior – Act of Reverence Series, 2006; Courtesy of The Progressive Corporation

The stunning and, at times, shocking pieces on display explore themes of diversity and tolerance by making the viewer consider his or her own personal views and prejudices. The collection features pieces for the local corporation, Progressive Insurance. For more than 35 years the Progressive Art Collection, created by former CEO Peter Lewis, has grown to incorporate more than 7,500 artworks that are displayed in Progressive offices nationwide. What was originally created to beautify and stimulate the company’s headquarters has become a well-known art collection that provokes thought and discussion among viewers.

The gallery space at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage is a beautiful area for the previously curated About the Right of Being Different exhibition. While currently on exhibition at various Progressive corporate facilities around the country, the fit within the Maltz space and mission made for a logical partnership. The themes of diversity, tolerance and acceptance that resonate in the mission statement of the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage are the core of this exhibition.

Admission to the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage includes the About the Right of Being Different exhibition. In addition to this special exhibit, visitors also have the opportunity to view the An American Story, an innovative and interactive collection tracing Ohio’s Jewish immigrant history and heritage. Also visit the Temple-Tifereth Israel Gallery, an internationally-recognized collection of Judaica featuring ritual objects, sacred books and scrolls and more. Even the exterior of the museum is stunning and symbolic as it is faced with more than 126 tons of Golden Jerusalem limestone and embraced by the Wall of Remembrance.

Carlos Vega, About the Right of Being Different, 2004; Courtesy of The Progressive Corporation

To celebrate the Maltz Museum’s 5th year anniversary, the museum will offer admission on Fridays for $5, with access to the entire museum.

The three-month exhibition’s programming, including performances and lectures, enhances the experience for visitors. This includes “Corporation as Collector: The Progressive Art Collection”, “Flight to Freedom: A Tribute to Jewish Artists” and “No Exit New Music Ensemble.” Tickets for these events are an additional cost to museum admission. Additionally, the museum is offering docent-led tours for groups as well as group discounted pricing. Catch a free drop-in tour at 2pm each Sunday (groups should reserve space in advance).

For more information, museum hours and special events, visit www.maltzmuseum.org or call 216.593.0575.

You should know:

The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage is located at 2929 Richmond Road in Beachwood, Ohio
The exhibit runs April 1-June 26
The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday 11am-5pm. On Wednesdays it is open until 9pm. On Saturday it is open noon-5pm.
Tickets are $12 for adults; $10 for seniors and students (ages 12+); $5 for Children (5-11).  Members and children under 5 are free.
For more information, visit www.maltzmuseum.org or call 216.593.0575.

Other things to do in Cleveland this weekend:

Now – 4/3 My Name is Asher Lev – Cleveland Play House
Now – 4/3 Cleveland International Film Festival – Tower City Cinemas
Now – 4/17 Glory of the Painted Page - Cleveland Museum of Art
Now – 4/30 Spring Show - Cleveland Institute of Art
4/1-4/23 The UnderpantsBeck Center for the Arts

For more events check out our event calendar here.

– Submitted by A.I.

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About PositivelyCleveland

Positively Cleveland is the destination marketing organization that has been promoting business and leisure tourism to Cleveland for more than 75 years.

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