Synopses & Reviews
Holocaust memorials and museums face a difficult task as their staffs strive to commemorate and document horror. On the one hand, the events museums represent are beyond most peopleandrsquo;s experiences.and#160; At the same time they are often portrayed by theologians, artists, and philosophers in ways that are already known by the public. Museum administrators and curators have the challenging role of finding a creative way to present Holocaust exhibits to avoid clichandeacute;d or dehumanizing portrayals of victims and their suffering.
In Holocaust Memory Reframed, Jennifer Hansen-Glucklich examines representations in three museums: Israelandrsquo;s Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Germanyandrsquo;s Jewish Museum in Berlin, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. She describes a variety of visually striking media, including architecture, photography exhibits, artifact displays, and video installations in order to explain the aesthetic techniques that the museums employ. As she interprets the exhibits, Hansen-Glucklich clarifies how museums communicate Holocaust narratives within the historical and cultural contexts specific to Germany, Israel, and the United States. In Yad Vashem, architect Moshe Safdie developed a narrative suited for Israel, rooted in a redemptive, Zionist story of homecoming to a place of mythic geography and renewal, in contrast to death and suffering in exile. In the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Daniel Libeskindandrsquo;s architecture, broken lines, and voids emphasize absence. Here exhibits communicate a conflicted ideology, torn between the loss of a Jewish past and the countryandrsquo;s current multicultural ethos. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum presents yet another lens, conveying through its exhibits a sense of sacrifice that is part of the civil values of American democracy, and trying to overcome geographic and temporal distance. One well-know example, the pile of thousands of shoes plundered from concentration camp victims encourages the visitor to bridge the gap between viewer and victim.and#160;and#160;
Hansen-Glucklich explores how each museumandrsquo;s concept of the sacred shapes the design and choreography of visitorsandrsquo; experiences within museum spaces. These spaces are sites of pilgrimage that can in turn lead to rites of passage.
andquot;Well written and organized, fresh and significant. . . . Hansen-Glucklich successfully navigates the mechanics and aesthetics of Holocaust museums and their displays, from Berlin, to Jerusalem, to Washington, DC, offering engaging and inviting analyses.andquot;
andquot;For centuries, museums have cared for collections of artistic, cultural, historical, and scientifically important artifacts. They have enlightened a public on broad aspects of humanityand#39;s achievement. Holocaust museums do not fit this inherently positive definition. Their role, rather, is to commemorate, represent, evoke, and document a past of horror. In this elegantly written and structured book, Hansen-Glucklich focuses on three distinct museums: that at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the Jewish Museum in Berlin, and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. Essential.andquot;
andquot;Stier offers an interdisciplinary approach to the question of how and in what ways memory becomes history, focusing on the Shoah. Great for students, scholars, and lay audiences.andquot;
andquot;Oren Stier has thought deeply, sensitively and intelligently about the Holocaust and its memorialization. His profound exploration is shaped by literature and history, art and theology, mythology and cultural history. His writing is unfailingly interesting.andquot;
In Holocaust Memory Reframed
, Jennifer Hansen-Glucklich examines Holocaust representations in three museums: Israelandrsquo;s Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Germanyandrsquo;s Jewish Museum in Berlin, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. As she interprets the exhibits, Hansen-Glucklich clarifies how museums communicate Holocaust narratives within the historical and cultural contexts specific to Germany, Israel, and the United States.
Arts organizations once sought patrons primarily from among the wealthy and well educated, but for many decades now they have revised their goals as they seek to broaden their audiences. Today, museums, orchestras, dance companies, theaters, and community cultural centers try to involve a variety of people in the arts. They strive to attract a more racially and ethnically diverse group of people, those from a broader range of economic backgrounds, new immigrants, families, and youth.
The chapters in this book draw on interviews with leaders, staff, volunteers, and audience members from eighty-five nonprofit cultural organizations to explore how they are trying to increase participation and the extent to which they have been successful. The insiders' accounts point to the opportunities and challenges involved in such efforts, from the reinvention of programs and creation of new activities, to the addition of new departments and staff dynamics, to partnerships with new groups. The authors differentiate between andquot;relationalandquot; and andquot;transactionalandquot; practices, the former term describing efforts to build connections with local communities and the latter describing efforts to create new consumer markets for cultural products. In both cases, arts leaders report that, although positive results are difficult to measure conclusively, long-term efforts bring better outcomes than short-term activities.
The organizations discussed include large, medium, and small nonprofits located in urban, suburban, and rural areasandmdash;from large institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Walker Art Center, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the San Francisco Symphony to many cultural organizations that are smaller, but often known nationally for their innovative work, such as AS220, The Loft Literary Center, Armory Center for the Arts, Appalshop, and the Western Folklife Center.
Oren Baruch Stier traces the lives and afterlives of certain remnants of the Holocaust and their ongoing impact. He shows how and why four iconsandmdash;an object, a phrase, a person, and a numberandmdash;have come to stand in for the Holocaust: where they came from and how they have been used and reproduced; how they are presently at risk from a variety of threats such as commodification; and what the future holds for the memory of the Shoah.
The Holocaust has bequeathed to contemporary society a cultural lexicon of intensely powerful symbols, a vocabulary of remembrance that we draw on to comprehend the otherwise incomprehensible horror of the Shoah. Engagingly written and illustrated with more than forty black-and-white images, Holocaust Icons
probes the history and memory of four of these symbolic relics left in the Holocaustandrsquo;s wake.
Jewish studies scholar Oren Stier offers in this volume new insight into symbols and the symbol-making process, as he traces the lives and afterlives of certain remnants of the Holocaust and their ongoing impact. Stier focuses in particular on four icons: the railway cars that carried Jews to their deaths, symbolizing the mechanics of murder; the Arbeit Macht Frei (andldquo;work makes you freeandrdquo;) sign over the entrance to Auschwitz, pointing to the insidious logic of the camp system; the number six million that represents an approximation of the number of Jews killed as well as mass murder more generally; and the persona of Anne Frank, associated with victimization. Stier shows how and why these iconsandmdash;an object, a phrase, a number, and a personandmdash;have come to stand in for the Holocaust: where they came from and how they have been used and reproduced; how they are presently at risk from a variety of threats such as commodification; and what the future holds for the memory of the Shoah.
In illuminating these icons of the Holocaust, Stier offers valuable new perspective on one of the defining events of the twentieth century. He helps readers understand not only the Holocaust but also the profound nature of historical memory itself.
About the Author
OREN BARUCH STIER is an associate professor of religious studies at Florida International University, in Miami, where he is also director of the Holocaust Studies Initiative.and#160;He is the author of Committed to Memory: Cultural Mediations of the Holocaust
and coeditor of Religion, Violence, Memory, and Place.