Finding Houdini in Scranton

Posted on October 26th, 2017 by

We continue our new blog series, Finding Houdini, from magician and storyteller David London, who will be serving as a guest curator for our upcoming exhibition exploring the life and legacy of Harry Houdini. In this post, David brings us along to his visit to the Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA. To read all the posts in this series, click HERE.

The  Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA

The Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA

The first stop on my “Finding Houdini” tour brought me to the Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA. Throughout his career, Houdini appeared in Scranton numerous times, and performed throughout Pennsylvania. The museum is run by Dorothy Dietrich (The Female Houdini) and Dick Brooks (Bravo The Great). Dorothy and Dick have a long history in the world of magic, working with many of the greats in the world of illusion, previously managing “The Magic Towne House” in New York City. Additionally, Dorothy and Dick restored the bust on Houdini’s grave gravesite, which had been damaged or destroyed numerous times throughout its history. They were also critical in facilitating the re-release of a long-lost Houdini film, The Grim Game, and are currently producing a Houdiniopoly boardgame! These are life-long caretakers of Houdini’s legacy, and it was an honor to arrive at their museum.

I was welcomed to the museum with open arms and open hearts, The amazing tour of the museum, which is offered daily in the summer, and on weekends the rest of the year, is filled with many exciting artifacts and masterfully told stories of Houdini’s life and career. The tour ends with a live show with the entire experience lasting over three hours!

Some great Houdini ephemera. Check out that peek at "Houdini-opoly"!

Some great Houdini ephemera. Check out that peek at “Houdiniopoly”!

Housed in the museum are several pairs Houdini handcuffs, signed books, a reproduction of the Water Torture Cell, and countless photos, posters, and ephemera. Some of the most exciting items at the Houdini Museum in Scranton are objects from Houdini’s apartment at 278 W. 113th Street, which Houdini fans and historians refer to it as simply “278,” including Houdini’s telephone, phonograph, and beautiful gold framed portraits of his parents.

Me with the wonderful museum runners Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brooks!

Me with the wonderful museum runners Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brooks!

But truthfully, the best part of my visit was spending time with Dorothy and Dick. After the tour, we went to dinner and shared our passion for Houdini and the strange and wonderful world of magic. We reflected on the unbelievable but real-life story of Houdini and by the time I departed, I had not only seen the first incredible collection on my tour, but also made new friends. And that’s the real magic of magic!

“My brain in the key that sets me free” -Houdini

“My brain in the key that sets me free”

In my upcoming posts, I will be sharing my adventures in Wisconsin, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Washington, DC, as I continue my search for Houdini. Stay tuned…

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Once Upon a Time…01.27.2017

Posted on October 24th, 2017 by

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Joanna Church by email at

JMM 1992.97.1

JMM 1992.97.1

Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: January 27, 2017

PastPerfect Accession #: 1992.097.001

Status: Mostly unidentified – do you know the names of any of the students in this 1957 Baltimore Hebrew confirmation class? Cantor Joseph Rosenfeld stands to the left and Rabbi Morris Lieberman stands to the right.


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Millenial Belonging: Voices from the Exhibitions Intern Team

Posted on October 23rd, 2017 by

This summer we asked our summer interns to team up and create their very own podcast episodes. Over the course of ten weeks they needed to pitch a concept, draft a script, and record and edit their podcasts. We’ve shared those podcasts here with you on the blog over the course of the last few weeks – here is the final episode from our 2017 Summer Interns! You can see all of their podcasts by clicking on the intern podcast tag.

Exhibit interns Jillie, Tirza, and Ryan.

Exhibit interns Jillie, Tirza, and Ryan.

Belonging in Judaism is not only an academically complex and fascinating topic, but it is also a very personal one. Every person, regardless of ethnicity, race, and age, experiences the intricacies of the concept of belonging.  Work, hobbies, family, friends and other avenues that are defined by people coming together and moving apart are integral to being human. Belonging and in turn not belonging are unavoidable elements to the human experience.  In this podcast episode summer exhibition interns Tirza Ochrach-Konradi, Ryan Mercado, and Jillie Drutz share their personal narratives of Jewish belonging and discuss the involvement of our general millennial age group with Judaism.

>>Listen to the Podcast<<

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