Milwaukee Public Museum and America’s Black Holocaust Museum partner to showcase Nelson Mandela exhibit

Exhibit will make its U.S. debut in Milwaukee

A gallery dedicated to the years of chaos leading up to the landmark 1994 election of Nelson Mandela as president of South Africa. (Photo: Round Room Live)

The Milwaukee Public Museum and America’s Black Holocaust Museum have partnered to bring a global-touring Nelson Mandela exhibition to the city.

“Nelson Mandela: The Official Exhibition,” which takes visitors on a journey through the life of the iconic freedom fighter and political leader, will make its United States debut in Milwaukee from April 23 through Aug. 1.

The exhibition features previously unseen film, photos and the display of more than 150 historical artifacts and personal effects on loan from his family, museums and archives. Some highlights include a suit worn for the opening of the South African parliament in 1996; a traditional headdress gifted to Mandela by The King of Xhosa people, King Xolilzwe Sigcawu as he awarded Mandela the ancient tribal warrior honor of the Isithwalandwe Sesizwe; his presidential desk and chair; and his iconic beige trench coat.

“When the Milwaukee Public Museum came to us asking to partner on this project, I knew it was something special and we had to be a part of it,” said Dr. Robert Davis, president and CEO of ABHM. “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 exhibition will be open to the public at MPM Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from April 23 through August 1. Tickets are available for purchase by visiting
www.mpm.edu/mandela. 

MPM will also virtually debut a new planetarium program, Stargazers of Africa, in celebration of the exhibition. The show, which is presented by Generac, will take visitors on a journey connecting the stars, moon and planets to the people across the continent of Africa.

“We know that every educational experience is different right now,” said Dr. Ellen Censky, president and CEO of MPM. “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.”

ABHM and MPM brought together 50 community leaders to form an advisory council for the exhibition, which includes honorary co-chairs Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and
Billye and the late Hank Aaron.

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Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits and education for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism. In her free time, Lauren enjoys hiking, kayaking, and seeing live music.

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