PHOTO: OJMCHE's Southern Rites exhibit launched just weeks before the museum had to close due to the pandemic. With the reopening, people have another chance to see this timely work by photographer Gillian Laub.
BY DEBORAH MOON
The Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education will once again welcome visitors, masked and socially distanced, to ground floor exhibits beginning Aug. 6 from 11 am to 3 pm, Thursday through Saturday.
Due to limited occupancy, all visitors, including members who receive free admission, must obtain a timed entry ticket in advance. Tickets are $4 for adults, $2.50 for students or seniors, and free for 12 and under. For tickets, visit ojmche.org/product/general-admission, email email@example.com or call 971-930-1990.
“Our reopening has been intentionally centered around the exhibition, Southern Rites, Gillian Laub’s photographic exploration of racially segregated proms and homecoming rituals in Montgomery County, Georgia,” says OJMCHE Director Judy Margles. “When the pandemic necessitated our temporary closure in mid-March, the exhibition had only been open a scant five weeks. At the time we could not foresee how relevant the themes of the exhibition would be to the social protests that consume Portland and the United States today.”
The protests against police brutality since George Floyd was killed in May have spread to more than 2,000 communities in all 50 states. In Portland demonstrators have gathered daily since May 28.
The Southern Rites Exhibit begins with Laub’s photos of the segregated proms in 2009, which were published in 2009; the following year the power of those photographs served as a catalyst for the integration of the town’s proms. The next year an older white man murdered an unarmed young black man, and Laub returned to document the larger story of the changes taking place in the town. Her project evolved into a decade-long exploration of painful, deeply rooted national realities of prejudice and inequality. The exhibit will be open until Sept. 5.
“While the exhibition lays bare racial injustice, it also provides a glimmer of hope that reform is possible,” says Judy. “This is the message that resonates for me as we invite you to tour Southern Rites and engage in the essential questions of race and equity facing us today.”
“I am delighted that we will soon be welcoming visitors back to the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education,” says Judy. “The resilient OJMCHE staff have consulted experts who guided us to make sure that we have created a safe museum environment, and we are now ready to open our doors with a long-awaited and heartfelt invitation to visit.”
Masks must be worn at all times in the museum. The maximum group size is four, and visitors must maintain 6-foot distance between groups. Designated routes are outlined to promote social distancing. See OJMCHE’s safety protocols for visitors at
Lefty’s Café remains closed, but the Ron Tonkin Family Museum Shop on the ground floor is open. Visitors can shop on site or anyone can shop online: ojmche.org/visit-ojmche/museum-shop/.
The smaller East Gallery features Approaching Darkness. Portland artist Stephen Leflar shares his illustrations of sacred places devastated by genocidal war crimes, particularly drawing upon the vacant darkness during the Holocaust and the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia.
Visitors and passersby can also enjoy the two exhibits in its ground floor expanse of windows. Wall Sculptures by Mel Katz features five colorful, abstract aluminum sculptures on brilliant display along Davis Street. Six panels recreated from the museum’s core exhibit, Discrimination and Resistance, An Oregon Primer, are located in the windows facing the North Park blocks. The panels were selected to add to the current conversation about racism and hate.