Design Gallery

Stitching History From The Holocaust

Sunday, September 11 – Sunday, November 13, 2016

Gallery hours: Monday – Thursday, 9 am – 4 pm, Sunday, Noon – 4pm


People from the 1940s fashion.

Paul and Hedy Strnad are trapped as the Nazis close in. Can Hedy’s dress designs and their cousin in Milwaukee help them get to the United States? All efforts failed. Hedy and Paul perished in the Holocaust, but their memory lives on in a letter and sketches, which form the core of this haunting exhibit.

The Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s costume shop meticulously created with historic accuracy the eight dresses and accessories from the original sketches by using period styles and techniques. The museum staff has collected years of research to give visitors a closer look into the lives of this couple — a story that represents one of the millions of lives extinguished by the Holocaust and the immeasurable loss of talent and creativity.

The Design Gallery is also pleased to feature a separate exhibition of garments created by UW Madison fashion design students who looked to Hedy’s legacy for a modern twist on late 1930s – 1940s styles.

Stitching History in the news: The New York Times, PBS Newshour Weekend

Design Gallery events are free and open to the public.

Hours: Monday – Thursday, 9 am – 4 pm, Sunday, Noon – 4 pm




Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016
Lecture: “Contextualizing Hedvika Strnad:  Fashion in the 1930s”,
4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m, Nancy Nicholas Hall, Room 2211
By Beverly Gordon, Professor Emerita, Design Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016
Panel presentation: “Stitching History in Czechoslovakia: A Survivor’s and a Historian’s Perspectives” co-sponsored by Center for Jewish Studies
7 p.m. – 8 p.m, Nancy Nicholas Hall, Room 1199
– Simone Schweber, Goodman Professor of Education and Jewish Studies and Director, Center for Jewish Studies will chair the panel.
– Amos Bitzan, Frances and Laurence Weinstein Assistant Professor of History.
– Renata Lexova, Professor Emerita of Genetics at the Departments of Pediatrics and Medical Genetics, Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016
Afternoon with Friends

Co-sponsored by Center for Jewish Studies and Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Art & Letters
1-4 p.m., Nancy Nicholas Hall, Room 2235
Featuring Mary Lou Roberts, WARF Distinguished Lucie Aubrac Professor and Plaenert Bascom Professor of History, speaking on Stitching Wartime History: The Case of the French Resistance. Following the lecture, UW Madison design studies students will be on hand to talk about their design process and dresses featured in the companion exhibition “Inspired by Hedy.”


About the Jewish Museum Milwaukee: The Jewish Museum Milwaukee is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history of the Jewish people in southeastern Wisconsin and celebrating the continuum of Jewish heritage and culture. The history of American Jews is rooted in thousands of years of searching for freedom and equality. We are committed to sharing this story and the life lessons it brings with it, so that we may enhance the public’s awareness and appreciation of Jewish life and culture..

Stitching History From The Holocaust is an original exhibit created by and on loan from the Jewish Museum Milwaukee. Supported by the UW-Madison Anonymous Fund, Friends of the UW-Madison School of Human Ecology, the Jewish Federation of Madison, the George L. Mosse/Laurence A. Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies, and Fran Weinstein.

For the most up to date information, like us on Facebook.

About Design Gallery

The Ruth Davis Design Gallery holds exhibitions that relate to the processes and results of design. Together we encourage research, education and outreach by bringing together the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection, the Design Gallery and Ruth Ketterer Harris Library, as well as undergraduate and graduate programs in Design Studies. We are located in the new Nancy Nicholas Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Human Ecology.Completed in June 2012, the LEED-certified Nancy Nicholas Hall supports the School’s mission to improve the quality of human life, through its education, research, creative endeavors, outreach and engagement. This technology-rich environment facilitates webinars, video conferencing, and interactive learning. Its accessibility, café, roof terrace, and other comfortable community spaces welcome visitors and promote interactions among faculty, staff, students, and visitors. An enlarged, climate-controlled Design Gallery and Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection enhance the visibility of creative works from both students and professional artists.

Support Us

All Design Gallery events and exhibitions are free and open to the public, thanks in part to the generous support from the Anonymous Fund. Support our programming through a gift to the University of Wisconsin Foundation.

More questions?

Please call 608-262-1162. You can also email Design Gallery. For the most up to date information, like us on Facebook.