Some Were Neighbors

The tour (by Sonia) of Some Were Neighbors: Collaboration & Complicity in the Holocaust special exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum gave me a sense of how a museum can use special exhibitions & permanent exhibitions in specific ways; for example, Sonia said the special exhibitions focus on the WHY and HOW the Holocaust happened while the permanent exhibition is about the WHAT.

I appreciated Sonia pointing out the curators and designers choices, in an exhibit about choices. It also speaks to the quality of the exhibition that the team knows some of the features/choices do not come across to every visitor, but they are still there for those on a tour or for those who are truly investigating the exhibition in depth and looking closely. It was great to look around and see visitors engaging with the exhibit. You could tell that visitors were viewing the mini-films with intensity and concern, not just sitting and staring blankly because they needed a place to sit. There were also several people using the photograph reaction interactive at the end of the exhibit. It is a unique way to create content for the website and get visitor feedback. Of all the choices the team made I thought the photo reveal stood out the most, as well as the arrows on the photographs.

Since we are discussing stories, I have to say that this exhibition stands out to me as the best storyteller of all the museums we have visited, and I think it has to do with design of the space, the minimal selection of artifacts, attention to photographs, the focus on individuals, and the overall theme. I have been learning about the Holocaust for many years now, and I still came away with new perspectives, thoughts, and questions about all those involved. The idea of this triangular connection between perpetrator, victim, and bystander is so new to me, but now that I’ve seen it here I won’t forget it.


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