Award-Winning Book Inspires Must-See Exhibit

Journalist Matthew Desmond won a Pulitzer Prize for Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, which was set largely in Milwaukee. Now the 2016 book has been turned into a compelling museum exhibit that’s touring the country.

Much like the Pulitzer-Prize winning book it’s based on, “Evicted” examines the housing crisis via illustrative stories that bring to life real landlords and tenants. And it presents issues of race, legal representation and poverty in a way that provokes thought and discussion.

The exhibit, which was conceived by a Washington, D.C., curator who was struck by the power of Matthew Desmond’s book, is traveling to 10 cities. Its first stop is the Mobile Design Box, 753 N. 27th St.

The exhibit transforms the book’s themes, appropriately, into a neighborhood. Facts and figures are displayed outside “houses” scattered throughout the gallery space. Inside, we see the faces behind those statistics, stunning photographs (by Michael Kienitz and Sally Ryan) and videos (by Sasha Israel and Unfurl Productions) of real people suffering.

The design mirrors our awareness of the crisis. From the outside, we can clearly see there is a problem, but one that most of us can easily forget. When confronted by the humanity that lies within, however, indifference becomes impossible.

The exhibit does more than just highlight problems – it offers solutions. Students from UW-Milwaukee’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning present proposals and designs to help provide housing for those who need it.

“Evicted” runs through Sept. 30. The free exhibit is open 5 to 8 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.