Here is some of what we each took away from our visit to the Illinois Holocaust Museum:
|Photograph by Jim Schnepf|
The Museum light effects move from darkness as you move through the Holocaust to light when you reach the liberation and life after the Holocaust sections. As we move into the light, we bring life out of the Holocaust and the mission to not allow it to happen again. The light effects add poignancy to the exhibit.
I think that the main exhibit was beautifully done and could not have been put together any other way. The most striking part of the exhibit is when you enter a railcar from the Holocaust period, the same kind that was used to transport victims. At that time, you feel part of that history and the events seem to really unfold right before your eyes. The Museum really does its job of keeping the memory and reality of the Holocaust alive thus inspiring future generations to stop it from happening again.
The journey begins on the dark side of the museum, in post-World War I Germany and Europe. The exhibit is laid out chronologically and - through artifacts, photos and footage - visitors are taken through the historical progression up to, and beyond, the Holocaust. I thought the museum excelled at taking information from history books and presenting it in a way that makes events seem vividly, horrifyingly real. One example is the multimedia used to show the how the countries in Europe fought Germany (and the attendant death tolls) ... you get a very clear picture of the war's progression.
The artifacts displayed and the testimony of survivors' voices are, for me, the most powerful components of the exhibit. A lot of what I saw is haunting and difficult - but necessary- to watch. The graphic nature of some of the imagery make the exhibit unsuitable for young children (the museum recommends 12 and above). The effect it had on me was visceral; witnessing the inhumanity millions suffered was like a punch to the gut. Standing in an actual railcar from that era - the kind which was used to transport people to their deaths at concentration camps - is something I won't forget. Overall, it was a very moving experience. Everyone should visit this museum.
A visit to the Illinois Holocaust Museum is truly an emotional journey we all should take. All visitors will be moved and will take important lessons from the journey.
The Illinois Holocaust Museum is easily accessible for us in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. It is located at 9603 Woods Dr in Skokie, Illinois. The Museum is open weekdays 10AM-5PM (until 8PM on Thursdays). It is also open 11AM-4PM on weekends. Admission costs $12 per adult, $8 per senior (65+) and students (12-22). Admission for children 5-11 is $6. (Tomorrow, we will discuss exhibits more appropriate for the younger children.)
For more on the Illinois Holocaust Museum, please check our post on exhibits appropriate for younger children.
**Disclosure: The Illinois Holocaust Museum so graciously provided us with admission to the Museum so that we could show our readers this great treasure. We received no compensation for this post.