Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust
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Pan Pacific Park|
100 S The Grove Dr
Fairfax District, Los Angeles,,
Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH) is a museum located in Pan Pacific Park within the Fairfax district of Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1961 by Holocaust Survivors, LAMOTH is the oldest museum of its kind in the United States.
Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust is the oldest museum founded by a holocaust survivor in the United States. In 1961, a group of holocaust survivors at Hollywood High School met and realized their deep connection and drive to steward the past. They began meeting to discuss their own personal experiences, the importance of commemorating their lost relatives and friends, and educating future generations. They each possessed precious primary sources, such as photographs, artifacts, documents and memories and decided that these objects needed a permanent home – a sanctuary for documentation, commemoration, preservation and education. The space would serve as a physical location where they could memorialize their lost loved ones and educate future generations about the Holocaust.
The Museum opened its permanent subterranean building in Pan Pacific Park in October 2010, where it has since had over 250,000 visitors. Many Survivors still remain active on the LAMOTH Board of Directors today.
In 2010, led by past board member, Randy Schoenberg (whose story of litigating the return of the Klimt painting, Adele Bloch-Bauer I, from Austria was featured in the film “Woman in Gold”), the Museum moved into its award winning permanent home designed by renowned architect Hagy Belzberg.
The Museum’s architecture allows the physical building to be fully integrated into the surrounding park landscape. The architecture of the main Museum building is also designed to immerse the visitor in the horror and darkness of the Holocaust, as the ceilings are lower and the rooms darker in the galleries discussing the concentration camps. While the visitor is submerged in the history of the Holocaust, park-life continues outside of the Museum. In a similar way, there were people outside the ghettos and camps, either neighbors or those halfway across the world, who either did not know or chose to ignore the ways Jews and other targeted groups were victimized and killed during the Holocaust. This juxtaposition is a key component in the architectural design of the building.
The building design received the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Commission Design Honor Award, the Green Building Design Award, and a Gold LEED rating – the national standard of sustainable architecture. The award-winning interior and exterior architecture reflects the poignant history covered in the Museum’s galleries. As visitors move through the Museum, light and space change, mirroring the time in history. The galleries are organized chronologically and cover Jewish life before the Holocaust as well as key historical events between 1933 and 1945. The Museum features a rich collection of primary sources, and LAMOTH holds one of the largest collections in the United States of artifacts from the Holocaust period.
The Museum is divided into three spaces: the internal Museum space, the Goldrich Family Foundation Children’s Memorial, and the outdoor Martyrs Memorial. The Children’s Memorial is an outdoor reflective space where the approximately 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust are remembered. There are 1.2 million holes of various sizes in the walls of the Children’s Memorial, and visitors can write messages to the children who perished. A small Garden of the Righteous pays homage to non-Jews who risked their lives to save.
The Museum’s design also incorporates the Martyr’s Memorial monument, which was built in the early 1990s. This monument consists of six 18-foot high, black, triangular, granite pillars, each one honoring the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. These pillars are also meant to symbolize the crematoria smoke stacks.
Tree of Testimony
In collaboration with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, LAMOTH installed a 70-screen video sculpture that displays the 52,000 survivor testimonies from the USC Shoah database. Visitors can use their audio guides to listen to any of the 70 testimonies that are being highlighted. Since there are over 50,000 stories and only 70 screens, each Survivor is guaranteed to be shown at least once a year, ensuring that each visitor experiences a different testimony. At any given time, there are survivors speaking in as many as 32 different languages, including Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Flemish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Ladino, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romani, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Sign, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Ukrainian, and Yiddish.
18 Camps Interactive
The 18 Camps interactive touch-screens provide an inside look at examples of transit, labor, and death camps throughout Europe. In Judaism, the number 18’s corresponding letters are the word “Chai,” for life. The screens allow visitors to access Holocaust survivor testimonies, along with photos and music, to enhance the visitor experience.
The Sobibor Model
Sobibor was one of the 6 main death camps established by the Nazis and was part of the Operation Reinhard program to murder all the Jews of Poland. Survivor Thomas Blatt built a model of the Sobibor Extermination camp solely from memory, and it is permanently displayed at LAMOTH. There is also a video screen above the model where Thomas talks about his experience in the camp. Thomas was a part of the 250 prisoners who carefully planned and executed their escape from Sobibor. Only about 50 survived, and Thomas was one of them.
Education and Resources
Any visitor to the Museum is able to check out an audio-guide and headphones free of charge. Each audio-guide starts with a series of instructions for the unfamiliar user. Once the visitor has passed the introduction, s/he will reach a map of the Museum (the homepage). From this map, the visitor can navigate through by pressing on the room that s/he is in or by typing in the three-digit code seen on the photograph/video/artifact. Each artifact has a corresponding section in the audio-guide. ication to shaping the future of Holocaust education.
The video production program (previously called Righteous Conversations) was begun by previous museum director Samara Hutman who brought her project, Remember Us, to the Museum. Together with Cheri Gaulke, previous artistic director of the project and a faculty member at Harvard-Westlake School, they created documentary films with students about survivors. The films have won numerous awards and can be found on both the Righteous Conversations Project Vimeo Channel and website as well as the Museum's Vimeo Channel.
- History of the Jews in Los Angeles
- Jews and Judaism in Los Angeles topics
- Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service of Austrian Service Abroad — LAMOTH participates
- Berrin, Danielle. "Schoenberg parts With LAMOTH, citing problems with new management". Jewish Journal. Tribe Media Corp. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
- "About Us". Righteous Conversations. Remember Us. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
- "LAMOTH Hires New Executive Director LOS ANGELES MUSEUM OF THE HOLOCAUST (LAMOTH) HIRES SAMARA HUTMAN AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND WELCOMES THE REMEMBER US ORGANIZATION". LA MOTH. Los Angeles Museum of The Holocaust. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
- Berrin, Danielle. "Students, survivors engage in righteous conversations". Jewish Journal. Tribe Media Corp. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
- Milette, Wendy. "The Righteous Conversations Project Wins My Hero's 2016 Media Award". My Hero Stories. The MY HERO Project, Inc. Retrieved 19 September 2017.