Our History

The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art (SMMJA) and its collections have been a part of Tulsa for decades. It began in 1965 when a local synagogue brought a traveling exhibit, “Traditional Ceremonial Art,” from the Jewish Museum in New York to the Tulsa community. It generated great interest in Jewish culture and art, and the following year, the Gershon and Rebecca Fenster Gallery of Jewish Art opened to the public. Sherwin Miller, the first Curator of the Gallery, began collecting Jewish art and artifacts in earnest.

In 2000, the Museum was renamed The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art to recognize the achievements and contributions of its first curator. In 2003, the Museum moved to its current location on the Zarrow Campus, shared with the Jewish Federation of Tulsa/Charles Schusterman Jewish Community Center, Mizel Jewish Community Day School, and Zarrow Pointe.

The SMMJA’s upper level displays the Museum’s permanent collection of art and artifacts showing the 5,000-year history of the Jewish people from the pre-Canaanite era through the settling of the Jewish community in Tulsa and the American Southwest. Visitors learn about the exiles’ and immigrants’ travels to new home lands, Jewish practices, ceremonies, holidays, and overall heritage.

The lower-level of the Museum features the Herman and Kate Kaiser Holocaust Exhibition, containing hundreds of objects donated by Oklahoma veterans who took part in the liberation of German concentration camps. Other artifacts were brought to Oklahoma by Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. Many are mementos of those who died in the Holocaust; others are dedicated in memory of them by their families. These Oklahomans have made their stories part of the Holocaust Education Center at the SMMJA in order to bear witness to the terrors they encountered during the Nazi regime.

In addition to its permanent and temporary exhibitions, the SMMJA also serves as the home to the Julius and Gertrude Livingston Oklahoma Jewish Archives, the Tulsa Jewish Genealogical Society, and the Markovitz Jewish Genealogy Study and Research Center. The archives serve as a repository of the Jewish experience in Oklahoma through a collection of over 10,000 items, documents, and photographs. The genealogical society acts as a local resource for area genealogists who are researching their roots. Furthermore, the SMMJA library serves as a research facility for those interested in Judaic studies, the holocaust and genealogy.

The mission of the SMMJA is to preserve and share the legacy of Jewish art, history and culture. Through exhibitions and educational programs focusing on Jewish culture, history, religion, and art, the Museum hopes people will come to understand and identify with the Jewish experience. From its humble beginnings in the lobby of Congregation B’nai Emunah, the museum has changed from being a repository of art and religious objects to an educational institution dedicated to the eradication of hate and to the promotion of understanding between the diverse cultures.

Become a Member

Interested in joining the SMMJA community? Members play an important role in helping us continue to promote Jewish heritage, culture, history and community while also gaining access to the following benefits:

  • Free admission
  • Discounts in the museum store
  • Discounts on museum space rentals
  • Subscription to the monthly eMuse newsletter
  • Leadership, training, and volunteer opportunities
  • Access to the research library
  • Guest passes
  • Advanced notice of exhibitions and programs
  • Exclusive invitations to member events

Collaborative Partners

The Jewish Federation of Tulsa— Mission Statement: Consistent with the foregoing, the purposes and objects of this Corporation shall be limited to the promotion and advancement of Jewish educational, cultural, social, philanthropic, and religious interests and to raise and distribute funds to the accomplishment of such ends. The mission of this Corporation is to foster a sense of Klal Yisrael, perpetuate appreciation of the Jewish heritage and the virtue of Tzedakah, and to strive for the highest quality of Jewish life locally, in Israel, and throughout the world. This mission will be accomplished through varied venues including, but not limited to, group experiences, leisure time, and health and wellness programming.  The Council for Holocaust Education conducts the Teacher Training Institutes, to educate teachers regarding bonds of commonality and inclusivity.
The Sanditen/Kaiser Holocaust Center Partners45th Infantry Division Museum; Abe Abouwali; Tracey and Rick Bewley; Custom Components & Logistics; Andy Drake; Caroline Finch; Calvin Frank; Green Country Glass; Greenwood Cultural Center; Roy Griffith; Holocaust Museum Houston; Jose the Painter; Matt Kahley; Kasa Commercial Flooring; Mark Lobo; M.L. Jones Acoustics; Muscogee (Creek) Nation; Ideum; NDN Custom Frame; Plastic Supply & Fabrication; Red Dog Construction; Reiss Painting; Kendra Rebman Shinn; RLS Construction; Liberty Rogers’ Southern Millwork; Steelehouse; Tenkiller Area Community Organization; Tulsa Plastics; Tulsa Historical Society ; Tulsa World; United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; University of Southern California Shoah Foundation; Eva Unterman; Clark and Michelle Wiens; U.S. Window Film; Video Revolution; Visual FX; J.D. Washburn; Brett Weisman Electric; Gabriel Wolff; Yad Vashem
Tulsa Public Schools in conjunction with the Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child Program— Mission Statement: to inspire and prepare every student to love learning, achieve ambitious goals and make positive contributions to our world.
As a Blue Star Museum, SMMJA is in partnership among Blue Star Families, the National Endowment for the Arts, and more than 1,000 museums across America.
Arts Alliance Tulsa is a United Arts fund that strengthens and supports the arts for a greater Tulsa through fundraising, support services, audience development and responsible investment and allocation of resources.
Accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums states, SMMJA is noted for the "fulfillment of our educational mission to the best of our abilities and in accordance with our resources".
Yad Vashem is Israel’s official memorial to victims of the Holocaust.


Museum Annual Reports


intro copy + link to press kit