The two most famous illusionists of all time, Harry Houdini and David Copperfield, will be simultaneously inducted into the Ed Snider Only in America® Gallery/Hall of Fame at the National Museum of American Jewish History during a virtual event scheduled for Saturday, December 12, 2020.
The Philadelphia-based Museum, located on Historic Independence Mall in Philadelphia, is excited about yet another first in a year of many; a dual Only in America®induction ceremony and an online-only major annual event.
Though the Museum’s transition to all-virtual in March was bolstered by the fact that it already had many online resources such as virtual exhibition tours, family activities, a livestream program archive, transitioning to being a Museum that exists solely online was not without growing pains.
Staff had to adapt. “It felt like we were finally on a roll after a decade and suddenly a good chunk of our special event check lists went out the window,” said Cobi Weissbach, the Museum’s Director of Development who oversees the Only in America program. The Museum celebrated its 10th birthday in its current location last month. “We’re in a great place now and excited about the Houdini-Copperfield induction. We’re using a new streaming platform specially designed for these kinds of events and are glad for the new opportunities a virtual event creates – we can work with talent no matter where they’re based and welcome families from around the country to join us.”
While figuring out the “how” for this year’s Only in America®event required some sweat and tears, figuring out the “what” was easy: “we could all use a little light and magic this year,” continued Weissbach. It’s not a coincidence the event falls on the third night of Hanukkah.
Both magicians share a passion for the history of magic. “David Copperfield cares deeply about the history of his craft – his desire to know and preserve that history is something that resonates strongly with us as a history Museum,” added the Museum’s CEO, Dr. Misha Galperin. “Museums and magic actually have a lot in common – they are about storytelling at their core, and are designed to intrigue, inspire, and spark wonder.”
An honor bestowed to just 21 prior inductees, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg (who accepted the award at the Museum in December 2019), Steven Spielberg, Barbara Streisand, Emma Lazarus, and Irving Berlin, the Only in America®award recognizes the achievements and contributions of American Jews who share and exemplify the ideals of the stories explored in the Museum.
Copperfield will accept the honor from his International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts in Las Vegas, Nevada which is home to the largest collection of Houdini artifacts including his Water Torture Cell, Metamorphosis Trunk, as well as the only known recording of Houdini’s voice – preserved on the original Edison wax cylinders.
This event is free and open to the public. Visit https://www.nmajh.org/houdini-and-copperfield/for event details and to learn more about this year’s inductees.