Credit: National Holocaust Centre & Museum

National Holocaust Centre and Museum

Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund case study
Funding round:

Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, round 11

Synopsis:

The National Holocaust Centre and Museum was awarded £64,500 to bring together Holocaust survivors and communities to capture testimony, shape long-term approaches to interpretation, and enrich its Journey exhibition for young visitors onsite and online.

Project manager:

James Griffiths, director of learning

About the project:

The National Holocaust Centre provides a range of facilities for people of all backgrounds to explore the history and implications of the Holocaust. The vast majority of visitors will spend time in both the memorial garden and the two permanent exhibitions – The Holocaust Exhibition, suitable for secondary school children and adults and The Journey, a text free and tactile exhibition built with younger children in mind.



The Journey is the only exhibition in Europe targeted at teaching primary school children about the Holocaust. It is hugely popular and a highlight is the personal contribution of a Holocaust survivor.

Unfortunately, this will soon not be possible. This project is bringing Holocaust survivors and different audience groups together to plan how future audiences can engage most effectively with the collections, both in the physical exhibition and the planned virtual journey experience.

Focus groups have been undertaken involving primary schools and adult groups. The groups visited the Journey exhibition with a Holocaust survivor; sat with the survivor asking questions about different artefacts and events and then finally answered questionnaires about their views for supporting future audiences to engage with the collections. The lessons learnt from the focus groups will feed into to the development of the Journey exhibition.

The curator has also worked with Holocaust survivors, including two who are new to the centre and were born in Hungary. She has collected their testimonies and their experiences, which will feature as a contrast to the testimonies of survivors who were born in Germany.

The Journey’s collections will be photographed, digitised and catalogued with full provenance and contextual research and will be available for use within the virtual Journey Experience and the centre’s website.

This will enable audiences to engage with artefacts that cannot be on physical display due to space or conservation restrictions. They will also be able to explore an artefact in more detail by viewing it from different angles: something not possible in a normal display cabinet.

The project is due for completion in Autumn 2018. Recordings and film clips of survivors talking about their artefacts and contextual research will be distributed throughout the exhibition, added to the virtual Journey Experience, and added to the website. As a result of the project, tens of thousands of people each year, both onsite and online, will be able to gain a better understanding of the Journey’s collections.