Houdini Returns to Baltimore in a Magical Exhibit

Entrance of “Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini” at JMM
Entrance of “Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini” at JMM | © Jewish Museum of Maryland

Harry Houdini made a daring escape for all of Baltimore to see over a hundred years ago. Now, he takes the spotlight at a new exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini, which celebrates the magician’s historical feats and Jewish heritage.

Baltimore, April 26, 1916: 50,000 have flooded Charles Street, packed into every nook and cranny. Some folks hang out of windows or watch from roofs above, while others crane their necks to look up at the Baltimore Sun building. Before their eyes, Houdini, suspended 50 feet in the air, upside down, escapes a straitjacket bound by the city police themselves—in just three minutes.

A circus tent and artifacts from Harry and Beatrice Houdini's time with the Welsh Brothers Circus. | © Jewish Museum of Maryland

Fast forward 102 years later, and escape artist Dai Andrews attempted to recreate this incredible feat 50 feet (15.2 meters) above Lloyd Street on June 24, 2018. The event commemorates the opening of the Jewish Museum of Maryland’s new exhibit on Houdini, Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini. The exhibition tells the story of Houdini’s life from struggle to success in acts. It includes artifacts from his early life, such as a Hebrew bible belonging to his father (a rabbi), props from his performances, reproduction posters, press clippings, film clips, and a rare vocal recording.

Go "Behind the Curtain" at Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini | © Jewish Museum of Maryland

Marvin Pinkert, the executive director of Inescapable, invited local magician David London to curate the exhibit after seeing him perform at Artscape in 2017. London, a lifelong Houdini fan, happily took on the role.

"On the Cutting Edge" section of the Inescapable exhibit, bringing together reproduced posters, photographs, and digital media to illustrate Houdini's life. | © Jewish Museum of Maryland

The exhibit gives visitors opportunities to perform a little magic themselves. Kids can dress up in capes and learn how to perform Houdini’s vanishing elephant trick (on a much smaller scale, of course). Guests can also take a look at spirit photography, which uses a technique to make “ghosts” appear in photographs, and classic card tricks.

Try your hand at the smallest version of Houdini's "biggest" trick - the Vanishing Elephant. | © Jewish Museum of Maryland
"The Final Bow & Curtain Call," setting the record straight on Houdini's death, at Inescapable. | © Jewish Museum of Maryland

Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini will be at the Jewish Museum of Maryland from June 24, 2018, to January 29, 2019, with the special opening event on June 24th.

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