Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Holocaust Museum Experience

I promised a post on the Holocaust Memorial Museum, so here it is finally, only a little belated. I've struggled to find the words to describe it. I loved it, but is that the appropriate sentiment for a place that documents one of our darkest moments in history? I can say it was fantastically well put together; and it evoked all the feelings you might expect: sadness, anger, compassion, disbelief, incomprehension, and hope. After awhile I noticed that husband and I were experiencing it in different ways. I would read the long panels of information and look at each artifact and its description carefully, and he would be parked in front of one of many tvs playing historical footage from the event that I was reading about. The genius is that they provided platforms for all different kinds of learners so everyone can have a memorable experience of the exhibit. It was also an interesting experience for me because I have already researched most of the things presented in the museum. I've looked at the archival photographs and videos on their excellent website and read as much information as I can. The crux of my novel revolves around the Holocaust, so it felt very personal to me. I didn't necessarily go to learn new information (though of course I did pick up some new details), I went to see this monument to the survivors and to those departed. I also went to see the artifacts with my own eyes. A room full of shoes. Bunkbeds from Auschwitz, with the smell of wood so strong, you could almost imagine the rest of the room. A train car from the transports. It's hard to describe all the feelings this museum inspires, but I think it's a place everyone should see if they have the chance. It's so important to remember.

4 comments:

hellojed said...

I didn't realise your book was about the Holocaust, I can imagine that the museum was of special significance to you. It sounds like a very well put together place. I went to the New York Holocaust museum which is good to - a part that stuck in my mind was a canister of Zyklone B, it just blew my mind.

Angie said...

That's probably because I never mentioned it. ;) Thus my difficulties writing at times - it's all a little depressing and overwhelming after awhile.
I would be interested to see the museum in NY as well. There were a few Zyklon B canisters as well as pellets at this one too, which was unsettling.

Lane said...

Thanks for this post Angie. I'm always interested to hear how these exhibitions are put together. The website is great.

Hullaballoo said...

I remember how powerfully I was impacted by seeing the museum to the holocaust at Yad Vashem in Israel. I was only in my teens, but the memory has stayed with me.

I am fascinated with Jewish History and would love to read your book once it is published.

Good for you for taking time to deepen your knowledge of something so distressing.