Two Milwaukee institutions have partnered to bring a world-touring exhibition on the late Nelson Mandela to Milwaukee. The show opened Friday, April 23.
The Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM) and America’s Black Holocaust Museum (ABHM) are staging the American debut of “Nelson Mandela: The Official Exhibition,” through Sunday, Aug. 1, at MPM, 800 W. Wells St.
The exhibition – organized by Round Room Live and previously on view in London and Berlin – is an immersive one and uses previously unseen film clips, photographs, historical artifacts and personal objects to offer insight in South African freedom fighter and statesman Nelson Mandela, as well as the people, places, events and challenges that made him who he was.
You can see things like Mandela's Nobel Prize medal (pictured above), objects he used while imprisoned, newspapers with Mandela featured on the front page, diary entries, clothing, a lion skin (pictured below) that draped his casket after his death in 2013, racist Apartheid signage and more.
Panels describe Mandela's life growing up, his fight for freedom, his years in prison, his release and his years as a political leader and statesman, as well as related events like the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960.
“When the Milwaukee Public Museum came to us asking to partner on this project,” said Dr. Robert (Bert) Davis, President & CEO, ABHM in a statement. “I knew it was something special and we had to be a part of it.
“For many people, Nelson Mandela is a hero and other people may not know anything about him, but he was a man. A man with integrity, who fought for justice since he wasn’t much older than a boy. His entire life was about helping others find equality. He was a hero, but he was a man, too. It’s important to share that part – that Mandela was just like everyone else, but made the choice to fight for freedom and equality, just like we can.”
The Mandela exhibition is open 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and tickets – $22 for adults (18-64), $18 for seniors (65 and up), $22 for teens (14-17) and $16 for youth (4-13); children under age three are free – are available at mpm.edu/mandela or by calling (414) 278-2728. Members are admitted free.
Free programs and resources are available to teachers and schools.
“We know that every educational experience is different right now,” said Dr. Ellen Censky, President & CEO, Milwaukee Public Museum, in the statement. “Whether a child is virtually learning at home, sitting in the classroom or doing a hybrid of both, we understand that big group outings and field trips just aren’t possible.
“However, the content of ‘Mandela: The Official Exhibition’ is so important, and so relevant to what we’re seeing in our country today, that we felt it was imperative to make sure we have plenty of options that can be brought directly to the child.”
The museums will also host a series of diaglogues and mindfulness prompts; a “My Mandela Pledge,” that challenges to make a pledge to donate 67 minutes, hours or days of their time back to their community; virtual panel discussions on system racism and interviews with change-makers; a community-based art project; and more.
As part of mounting the exhibition, ABHM and MPM assembled a community advisory council of 50 civic, corporate, education, government and philanthropic leaders, including Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, the late Henry Aaron and his wife, honorary chair, Billye Aaron.
Visitors will be asked to adhere to COVID-19 procedures, including timed ticketing and entry, social distancing, no food and beverage, one-way paths and mandatory masks. For up-to-date information, visit mpm.edu/COVID.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.