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Exhibit Design & Museum-Related Projects: Skirball Cultural Center

Sara Berman's Closet

December 4, 2018–March 10, 2019

Sara Berman’s Closet is a one-of-a-kind exhibition by artists Maira Kalman (b. 1949) and Alex Kalman (b. 1985) inspired by the life of Maira’s mother and Alex’s grandmother, Sara Berman (1920–2004). 

At the age of sixty, Berman relocated to New York from Tel Aviv after ending a thirty-eight-year marriage. One morning, Berman decided to wear only white. She kept her minimal belongings in perfect order, starching, ironing, folding, and stacking her clothes within her humble closet. Berman’s closet and its monochromatic contents became emblematic of her liberation: she had edited everything to the essential and in this editing found happiness.

After Berman's death in 2004, her family saved the contents of her closet. Ten years later, Maira and Alex recreated the closet in an alleyway in lower Manhattan for Mmuseumm. In 2016, Sara Berman’s Closet was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. At the Skirball, the installation is complemented by twelve new paintings by Maira that depict pivotal scenes from her mother’s life.

All images are © Skirball Cultural Center, 2018


The title wall included a large reproduction of Sara's self portrait, along with her iconic typography.


The exhibition was very simple and modern, with a large round bench at center.


The closet (center, left) was the main focus of the exhibition, supported by paintings and reproductions.


The simple white gallery reflected Berman's desire to wear only white later in her life.


Her distinct handwriting replaced traditional labels throughout the exhibition, and told a linear story of her life.

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