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Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini

June 24, 2018 @ 10:00 am - January 21, 2019 @ 5:00 pm


On view June 24, 2018 – January 21, 2019



Harry Houdini wasn’t born. He was invented.


The world’s most famous magician began life as Erik Weisz, the son of a Hungarian rabbi. In 1878 immigration to the U.S. transformed Erik Weisz into Ehrich Weiss. It was the first of many transformations for the man who would become the first international superstar.


Inescapable, curated by local performer and magician David London, tells the story of how Ehrich Weiss became Harry Houdini and investigates the technologies, marketing prowess and entertainment trends that transformed him into a superstar. On one level, the exhibit is pure fun – incorporating magic, escapes, seances, films, rare artifacts and hands-on illusions.  On a deeper level, the exhibit pulls back the curtain, revealing the story of the man behind the image.


In addition to the exploration of his early life, visitors will find sections illuminating stages of his life and career:


Setting the Stage describing the struggles of Houdini’s early life and the difficulties faced by his father, artifacts include a Hebrew bible that belonged to Rabbi Weiss.


The Self Liberator featuring a spectacular display of reproduction posters, photos and press clippings, as well as original apparatus, including a straitjacket and milk can that he used in his performances.


On the Cutting Edge investigates his exploration of new technologies and also features clips from his film career and a chance to listen to a rare recording of his voice.


Houdini’s Third Act: Exposing Frauds showcases his crusade against deceptive spiritual mediums.


The Final Bow/Curtain Call sets the record straight on the events that led to his death and explores the séances to contact him by his wife, Bess.


Houdini in Maryland shines a spotlight on his appearances in the state where he performed close to 100 shows during his career. This section also features Houdini’s personal diary from 1898 turned to the page recording his first tour of Maryland (before his success) where he where he repeatedly reports “no dinner,” as he could not afford to eat.


Throughout the exhibit, visitors also will have the opportunity to try out some of Houdini’s magic tricks, including the world’s smallest version of Houdini’s biggest illusion – making a five-ton elephant “vanish.”


For information about visiting the Museum, please see our Visiting page or contact the Front Desk at 443-873-1178.



Interested in bringing Inescapable:

The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini to your museum?

Contact Joanna Church at jchurch@jewishmuseummd.org for details.


Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini is made possible in part through the generous support of our donors:


The Joseph & Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds

Larry Boltansky

Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Fund for the Enrichment of Jewish Education


PNC Greater Maryland

The William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund

creator of the Baker Artist Awards, www.bakerartistawards.org

Gert & Izzy Freedman


The Richard and Rosalee C. Davison Foundation

The Hackerman Foundation

Carroll A. Weinberg, M.D. and Charlotte Cohen Weinberg Foundation


Ira and Michelle Malis

The Kaplan-Kronsberg Family Charitable Fund

Donation arranged by David London from the Leonard A. and Linda K. Greenberg Charitable Foundation, Bethesda, MD


Greif Family Fund

Bill and Melinda Becker

Jeffrey Scherr and Wendy Jachman, the Alvin and Louise Myerberg Foundation

The Wolmans


Sheldon and Saralynn Glass

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Kaye

Gay Wise Foundation

Shelley and Sheldon Goldseker


In Memory of Max and Rose Winder

Larry and Evelyn Kamanitz Charitable Fund

The Chertkof Family


Public Programs:


The Psychic Contest
Sunday, July 1st at 1pm


Houdini Unbound
Sunday, July 15th at 1pm


Mrs. Houdini: The Woman Behind the Magician 
Sunday, July 29th at 1pm


American Immigration During Houdini’s Day, 1878-1924
Sunday, August 19th at 1pm


The Pursuit of Conjurors
Sunday, September 16th at 1pm


Street Show, Sideshow, Stage Show 
Sunday, October 7th at 1pm


Magic and Monotheism 
Sunday, October 14th at 1pm


Capturing Houdini 
Sunday, October 21st at 1pm


Houdini’s Magical Halloween Family Day
Sunday, October 28th


The Official Houdini Sceance
Wednesday, October 31st


Houdini in Hollywood 
Sunday, November 4th at 1pm


Film Screening: The Grim Game 
Sunday, November 4th at 2pm


Houdini: The Mini-Series
Tuesday, December 25th at 12:30pm


The Might Atom
Sunday, January 13th at 1pm

Media inquiries should be directed to Rachel Kassman, Marketing Manager at rkassman@jewishmuseummd.org / 443-873-5163.


June 24, 2018 @ 10:00 am
January 21, 2019 @ 5:00 pm