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Chicago Innovation Award Winner

Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center

Winner in: 2018
Winning Product: Survivor Stories Experience
Winner Category: Chicago Innovation Award
Industry: Civic and Education

The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center dramatizes the museum’s mission with forceful imagery: “Remember the past, transform the future.”

The past is right there on the stage of a specially built theater at the Skokie museum as a Holocaust survivor sits ready to answer questions and respond to queries from the audience. The survivor is a holographic image, sitting before the audience with the precision of real life and recalling the darkest hour of humanity in the 20th Century.

While other museums and institutions have presented holographic projections in recent years, the Holocaust Museum’s Survivor Stories Experience is unique and yields benefits in two ways. The very personal memories and observations of the 15 Holocaust survivors are preserved for generations to come in the survivors’ own voices and their own presence.

Second, interviews with the survivors during the holographing covered more than 30,000 queries likely to come from visitors. They cover questions about the politics of pre-war Germany, quotidian life in ghettos and death camps, probe questions about guilt the survivors may feel when their families died, and questions about why death camp inmates didn’t rebel against their captors.

The Survivor Stories Experience is the product of a partnership between the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center and the Shoah Foundation’s New Dimensions in Testimony program at the University of Southern California. The Shoah Foundation earned three patents for its part in producing the Survivor Experience.

Museum Chief Executive Susan Abrams explained, “We know there is absolutely no substitute for developing empathy and understanding of our common humanity than what comes from face-to-face, personal interaction with a survivor. Now with cutting-edge technology, we are able to share the history of the Holocaust in an incredibly personal way for generations to come.” 

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