Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini

Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini


Jun 24 2018 - Jan 21 2019
, 10AM- 5PM

JMM Original Exhibit 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 repeatedly reports “no dinner,” as he could not afford to eat.

Photos of Exhibit (By Will Kirk)

Interested in bringing Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini to your museum?

Contact Joanna Church at for details.

Public Programs for Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini

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

Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini was 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,
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

Help support exhibits, programs, and projects like this at the Jewish Museum of Maryland by making a gift online today!

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