Sara Berman’s Closet

February 5 - September 17, 2023

Sara Berman’s Closet is an installation created by New York-based multidisciplinary artists Maira and Alex Kalman, daughter and grandson of Sara Berman (1920-2004). At age 60, Berman, a Jewish émigré from Belarus to Israel, left her husband of 38 years and her old life behind. She packed a single suitcase and came to America, settling in a studio apartment in Greenwich Village. She had a room of her own and decided to wear only white. 

After Berman’s death in 2004, the Kalmans, inspired by the profound beauty and simplicity of her meticulously ordered closet, decided to preserve its contents: everything carefully starched, ironed, folded, and stacked. In 2015 they recreated her closet, with its original contents, as an installation at Mmuseumm in lower Manhattan. Sara Berman’s Closet has since been presented in prestigious museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2017). Like a fable visualized as a cabinet of curiosities, the Kalmans’ imaginative, tenderly moving installation not only tells the universal story of one ordinary woman’s pursuit of identity and meaning in life, but also represents the mother-and-son artist duo’s deep, fond rumination on family history, memories, and remembrance.

Maira Kalman is an acclaimed artist, best-selling writer, and designer, who has written and illustrated over 30 books for adults and children, including Sara Berman’s Closet (2015) and Women Holding Things (2022).
Alex Kalman is a designer, curator, editor and artist born in New York City. He is the co-founder of Mmuseumm, a small museum in NYC, and the director of What Studio?

This exhibition is made possible, in part, with generous support from: 

Platinum Sponsors
Shari and John Hicks

Silver Sponsors

Community Foundation of Sarasota County Logo
Tourist Development Tax Logo


Sara ironed everything, including her socks. From the exhibition, Sara Berman’s Closet. Courtesy of the artists, Maira Kalman & Alex Kalman.
Maira Kalman (American, born 1949) and Alex Kalman (American, born 1985), Installation detail of socks, with Maira Kalman’s handwritten label, “Sara ironed everything, including her socks,” from Sara Berman’s Closet at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2017. Courtesy of the artists.

An Afternoon with

Alex and Maira Kalman

Saturday, February 4
1 pm
Thomas McGuire Hall

Free for Members; $20 Not-Yet Members
$29 Museum Members | $53 Not-Yet Members

Join internationally acclaimed artists and authors Maira and Alex Kalman for an afternoon of artful conversation and an insider look at their exhibition and visual memoir Sara Berman’s Closet.

Maira Kalman, who was born in Tel Aviv and lives in New York City, has written and illustrated over 30 adult and children’s books, and is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and The New Yorker. She has created textiles for Isaac Mizrahi and Kate Spade and sets for Mark Morris along with other fruitful collaborations with Nico Muhly, Michael Pollan, Alex Kalman, David Byrne, John Heginbotham, and Lemony Snicket. Her art has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world.

Alex Kalman is a designer, curator, editor and artist born in New York City. He is the co-founder of Mmuseumm, a small museum in NYC, and the director of What Studio?