Imagining a Better World: The Artwork of Nelly Toll

Traveling Exhibition

In WWII Nazi-occupied Poland, a young Jewish girl named Nelly Toll was forced into hiding with her mother. Camped out in the small bedroom of a tiny apartment owned by a Catholic couple, Nelly and her mother did not go outside for 18 months. During this time, Nelly began painting watercolor images of happy children, carefree school days, and more, accompanying these images with handwritten short stories. Her imagined world brought her hope and comfort in the midst of tragedy and became a powerful vehicle for making sense of the history around her.

The Massillon Museum proudly offers the opportunity to exhibit Nelly’s work, one of the largest extant collections of Holocaust memorabilia created by a child.

Nelly Toll was recently featured in an exhibit in Berlin. Click here to read news.



[view past exhibits here]


• 46 framed reproductions (full version)
• 29 framed reproductions (smaller version)
• Small selection of Nelly’s original contemporary paintings (full version only)
• Wall labels and text panels
• Educational guide (print-ready digital file)
• Marketing kit (print-ready digital file)
• Retail items
• Audio-visual clips from upcoming documentary


• 146 linear feet (full version)
• 91 linear feet (smaller version)
• Does not account for space between works or panels; venues may opt to double hang


• Exhibition premiered September 2015; available in 2018 and beyond
• For current exhibition schedule and venues, please click here.


• 4 weeks to 16 weeks


  • $2500 for full version
  • $1500 for smaller version


Please contact Alex Nicholis Coon, Executive Director
330.833.4061 x111
Email Alex Coon

• For current exhibition schedule and venues, please click here.


Images courtesy of Dr. Nelly and Ervin Toll and Sharon Segall | © Massillon Museum
This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


This exhibit has been funded in part by:

In Parternship with:

In Parternship with:

In Parternship with:



South Jersey Magazine, April 2016
Person to Watch - "Behind the Sealed Window: How Nelly Toll Survived WWII"

Nelly Toll's visit to San Antonio where Imagining a Better World was on display January through March 2016. 

University of Pennsylvania, April 2016
"GSE Lecturer Found Peace During Holocaust Through Art"

NEWS4SA, March 2, 2016
"Holocaust Hidden Child Survivor in Town with Art Exhibit"

Click here to read about the inclusion of Nelly Toll's childhood artwork the 2016 exhibit Art From the Holocaust: 100 Works from the Yad Vashem Collection at the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin, on exhibit January 26 through April 3, 2016

NBC Nightly News, March 2016
"Holocaust Survivors' Art on Display For First Time in Berlin"

The Guardian, January 25, 2016
"Angela Merkel opens Holocaust art show with warning on antisemitism"

New York Times, January 22, 2016
"'Art From the Holocaust’: The Beauty and Brutality in Forbidden Works"

Art From the Holocaust: 100 Works from the Yad Vashem Collection

Two childhood paintings by Dr. Nelly Toll will be on display in Berlin at the Deutsches Historisches Museum this month, through April 3. MassMu staff have worked with Nelly Toll to arrange her visit to Berlin. Of the 50 artists featured in this landmark exhibit, Toll is the only living artist.

The Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin, in partnership with the Stiftung für Kunst und Kultur e.V. Bonn and at the initiative of the BILD in Germany, will open to the public a new exhibition entitled Art From the Holocaust: 100 Works from the Yad Vashem Collection between January 26 and April 3.

The 100 works in the exhibition were created almost primarily by Jewish inmates of various concentration camps, labor camps and ghettos. The art created under inhuman conditions and in secret is testament to the power of the human spirit in the fce of misery and death. The artwork displayed encompasses both the harsh reality of the Holocaust as well as a desperate flight into the realm of imagination.

Of the 50 artists whose works will be displayed at the Exhibition, 24 were murdered by the German Nazis and their collaborators.  Beyond the variety of approaches, the different styles and the multiplicity of themes evoked, all the artworks testify to the power of the human spirit that refused to surrender.

The exhibition was created in cooperation with Bonner Stiftung Für Kunst und Kultur, the Deutschen Historischen Museum and Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Rememberance Center, the foremost authority for Holocaust documentation, commemoration, research and education. 

Read more here.

Past Exhibit Venues:

Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio - San Antonio, Texas
January 1, 2016 through March 31, 2016
Reception with artist March 2, 2016
Click here for more information about this venue.

Dennison Railroad Depot Museum - Dennison, Ohio
March 1, 2016 through February 28, 2017
Reception March 5, 2016
Click here for more information about this venue.

Troy-Hayner Cultural Center - Troy, Ohio
May 6, 2016 through July 10, 2016
Reception May 13, 2016 - with special presentation by Nelly Toll. Open to the public.
Click here for more information about this venue.

Alvernia University - Reading, Pennsylvania
March 20, 2017 - July 10, 2017

Hanover Art Guild/Hanover High School - Hanover, Pennsylvania
April 1, 2017 through April 30, 2017

University of Alberta - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
October 8, 2017 through March 30, 2018
Click here for more information about this venue.

Decorative Arts Center of Ohio - Lancaster, Ohio
September 15 - December 30, 2018
Click here for more information about this venue.


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