Holocaust Museum Houston Workshop


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This past Friday, September 23rd, the Center for Public History and the Holocaust Museum Houston hosted a day-long workshop for students, faculty, and community members on how the museum staff work with board members and the larger community to host exhibits, preserve artifacts and create outreach and learning programs.

The workshop included a morning tour of the main exhibits of Holocaust Museum Houston, with a focus on written and video testimonies of Holocaust Survivors. One of the unique aspects of the museum is that the testimonies are drawn from the local community: Museum visitors see and hear from Individuals who were able to escape the Nazi terrors and eventually find a home in Houston.

Perhaps two of the most memorable aspects of the “Bearing Witness: A Community Remembers” gallery are the railcar from the World War II period, as well as the Danish fishing boat. Both artifacts are authentic to the era. Based on the train modifications, it is likely that the small cattle car was used to transport many Jews to the concentration camps. Workshop attendees were able to walk through the small railcar and get a sense of the cramped space and observe the lack of seating and little ventilation. Visitors were also able to view the Danish fishing boat, also a rather small vehicle, representing the kind of skiff used in 1943 to help Jews escape Denmark over into Sweden.

The tour also included commemorations of the many and various “Upstanders” –whether Jewish or non-Jewish—who resisted Nazi policies and practices.

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Museum staff members then led workshop attendees through the Lester and Sue Smith Human Rights Gallery and discussed the history and the articles of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Gallery provides an effective and sobering presentation of the global need for the respect of human dignity, chronicling genocides in many countries, as well as the struggle to overcome violence and oppression.

In the afternoon, museum curators, archivists, and exhibit designers talked with students about how Holocaust Museum Houston maintains its collection, works with traveling exhibits, creates new exhibits, and the kinds of skills and tools needed for students to go into museum work. They also addressed the importance of working with the local community, creating inclusive outreach programming, and striving to be an organization whose message and work resonates with local Houstonians and students.

Current and former UH public history students were also able to share about their own career path, lessons in networking, volunteering, and educational requirements to be able to do this kind of public-facing work.

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The Holocaust Museum Houston generously shared their space for the workshop and allowed students to see a sample of their wealth of programming for the Houston community and area schools. In addition to the physical space, the museum is active is running off-campus programming such as Educator in Motion - a free service provided by museum staff to work with students (Pre-K - 12) in classrooms with interactive activities to help them learn about the Holocaust, human rights and active citizenship.

Click here to out more about Education in Motion program, or send an e-mail to: education@hmh.org

To find out more about the Holocaust Museum Houston, their exhibits and their outreach programming, please visit their website: https://hmh.org/

If you are interested in finding out future CPH workshop events like this one, please contact CPHMedia@central.uh.edu, and we will add your e-mail to our listserv!