Holocaust Museum LA presents “Ruth Gruber: Photojournalist,” highlighting the work of the trailblazing photographer, journalist and humanitarian. The exhibit opens Dec. 12, and will run through April 13, 2022. Gruber’s acclaimed work as an intrepid, humanitarian photographer spanned more than five decades on four continents.
Ruth Gruber (1911–2016) was born to Jewish immigrants in Brooklyn and became the youngest Ph.D. in the world, at age 20, with a dissertation on Virginia Woolf. In 1935 she was the first correspondent to travel to the Siberian Gulag and Soviet Arctic.
She captured some of the earliest color images of Alaska’s vast frontier, the lives and customs of the native population, and the conditions and experiences of American soldiers. In 1944, as World War II raged, Gruber stewarded the ship Henry Gibbins on a secret U.S. government mission that brought nearly 1,000 Jewish refugees from Europe to Fort Ontario in upstate New York. Gruber subsequently shifted her attention to the lives of refugees and to issues of rescue, sanctuary and liberation, devoting the rest of her life to humanitarian causes.
In 1947, Gruber’s exclusive photographs documenting the harrowing voyage of the Exodus 1947—a ship carrying 4,500 Jewish refugees that attempted to break the British blockade on immigration to Palestine—were sent internationally via wire services to thousands of newspapers and magazines. Her iconic images radically transformed attitudes toward the plight of Jewish refugees and Holocaust survivors after the war. Following the establishment of the state of Israel, Gruber photographed the waves of immigrants who poured into the new country while continuing her commitment to documenting the condition of Jewish communities throughout the world.
Ruth Gruber devoted her life to fighting against injustice, advocating for human rights, and asserting the basic dignity of all people. Her determination to draw attention to the plight of refugees and stateless people is as timely and relevant today as it was when she took her iconic photographs of Holocaust survivors on the Exodus 1947. “Ruth Gruber, Photojournalist” is a tribute to her extraordinary life and to the humanitarian concerns that guided her work.
Organized by art historian and curator Maya Benton, and drawn from Gruber's private archive, this exhibition includes never-before-seen color photographs and vintage prints made over more than half a century on four continents, alongside contemporary prints made from her original negatives.
The opening event on Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. will feature remarks from Beth Kean, Holocaust Museum LA CEO; curator Maya Benton; and Patti Kenner, Gruber’s longtime friend and executive producer of the film “Ahead of Time: The Extraordinary Journey of Ruth Gruber.”
The exhibition “Ruth Gruber: Photojournalist” was made possible by friends of Ruth Gruber and Patti Kenner and supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Department of Arts and Culture.
Reservations are required to both visit the museum and to attend the opening event. The opening event will have limited capacity. For more information on the opening event, visit tiny.cc/ruthgruber.
For more information on the exhibit, visit https://holocaustmuseumla.org/post/ruth-gruber-photojournalist.
About Holocaust Museum LA
Holocaust Museum LA is the first survivor-founded and oldest Holocaust museum in the United States and houses the West Coast’s largest collection of Holocaust-era artifacts. Since 1961 the museum has carried on the mission of the founding survivors to commemorate those who perished, educate future generations about the Holocaust, and inspire a more dignified and humane world. Museum admission is free for all students and California residents. https://holocaustmuseumLA.org/