A Tale of Two Museums
Ester Rachel Kaminska Theater Museum Collection

Dedication Page

A Tale of Two Museums is dedicated to the memory of the actors who lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis. In paticular, we dedicate this website to Uma Olkanetski, who managed the Esther-Rachel Kaminska Theater Museum from 1928 until the Nazis took over YIVO's headquarters in 1941.

Fruma Olkanetski


The Esther-Rachel Kaminska Theater Collection was managed by Fruma Olkanetski from 1928 until the beginning of the war.

Uma (or Fruma) Olkanetski was born in Vilna to one of the oldest Jewish families of Vilna that descended from the Vilna Gaon (her father was the great-great grandson of the Vilna Gaon). After completing gymnasium in Vilna, she studied art in Berlin, and graphic design and drawing at the Munich Art School. She began working at the YIVO Institute in 1928 when she was charged with the management of the Esther-Rachel Kaminska Theater Museum. She continued her work as an artist and as such designed the YIVO emblem that we still use today. In 1934, she was married to a YIVO colleague, Moyshe Lerer. During the war, she was part of the Rosenberg Operation Group sorting materials. She risked her life many times rescuing important manuscripts. Olkanetski witnessed the destruction of the collection of Y.L. Peretz. She created set designs for the theater put on in the Vilna Ghetto and worked alongside Rokhl Sutzkever. In 1943, she had the opportunity to leave the ghetto with others in the underground and she chose to stay with her mother and they were both liquidated to Treblinka.