Los Angeles Holocaust Museum on 20th Century Jewish History
Those looking for Holocaust history and facts can turn to a new museum that opened this winter – the Los Angeles Holocaust Museum. The Los Angeles Holocaust Museum presents Holocaust history and facts in an easy to wander fashion, with easy to access displays that range from highly technical interactive exhibits to simple showcases of shoes, glasses, rags and ruins from what are possibly the darkest years of modern history.
The new museum was dug into a hill at the edge of a city park that contains a senior center, community gym, pool and centrally important piece of green in an otherwise asphalt jungle. Concrete benches leading to the entrance are engraved with countries and numbers of Jewish residents who perished in the extermination. The new museum incarnation is actually the site of the oldest Holocaust Museum in the nation. Founded in 1961 by survivors who possessed valuable objects from that time, the items needed a home in order to be preserved and seen by the community.
Today those objects have a permanent home and a place where visitors are invited to study and explore them at no charge – starting with a table of floating electronic photos that stop and expand to the touch. The front pages of old Los Angeles Times are displayed with the horrifying news of the day as it was happening. While backlit dioramas present people’s stories in huge and haunting images – notables such as Anne Frank and others who fought for the resistance – glass cases present small things: a shoe, a pair of classes, notes and articles of clothing – things kept and saved. A piano stands in the middle of one gallery, a relic of the original Pianist, whose story was told in the film character played by Adrian Brody.
Visitors can enter a replicated box car, with its tiny windows meshed in barbed wire. They can watch preserved film footage of camp conditions and study 3D models of the camps.
In one gallery an artist’s version of the “kindertransport,” in which German families sent their children off to England to be kept with British families until the war ended, although most knew they would never see each other again, placed an authentic child’s photo from the migration into each car.
In another, paintings of life in the camps, which were hidden between walls in the barracks, are on display in cartoonish depictions of the life that had adjusted to the horrors.
Holocaust museum tours are often led by docents and educators. Tours happen Monday to Friday at noon and Sunday at 2 pm when the facility has Holocaust survivors talk to visitors and share about their wartime experience. Talks last 45 minutes to an hour, with a Q&A at the end. Also daily, except Saturdays, at 2 pm, (Sundays at 3 pm) there are Holocaust Museum tours offering an overview of the history of the Holocaust through close observation of artifacts and documents. This tour runs approximately an hour. On Wednesdays at 3:30, Focus Tours lead by museum staff offer in-depth exploration of a specific artifact, with talks lasting 20-30 minutes.
HelloLosAngeles Tip: Visitors can always use headphones provided at all times free of charge for recorded audio tours.
Posted on February 8, 2012 by Lark Ellen Gould