11 June 2009

National Jewish Museum: Anti-semitism exhibit

Pertinent to the fatal shooting at the US Memorial Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC - perpetrated by a known anti-Semite and White supremacist - the e-letter of the National Museum of American Jewish History (Philadelphia) offered a relevant article on its current exhibit.

The NMAJH's current exhibit - Shaping Space, Making Meaning - asks visitors if anti-Semitism exists in American Society. This hotly debated question and others like it are at the root of the exhibit.

The museum's e-newsletter says "Absolutely!"
"Growing up in Long Island N.Y. we were oblivious to it, but when I lived in Stockton, Calif. in the late 70s there were 300 Jewish families in a city of 100,000," wrote a recent Museum visitor from Merrick, N.Y., in response to the question, "Does antisemitism exist in the United States?" asked in the Museum's exhibition.

The visitor added that people made ignorant and stereotypical comments toward him, and that he believes he was held back from advancing at work because of his Judaism.

Another visitor from Bellbrook, Ohio disagreed, saying that there is no more antisemitism than any other prejudice. "I can't honestly say I've suffered any outright loss from antisemitism."
The exhibit provides a demonstration on how a museum creates a major exhibit and also allows visitors to offer interactive feedback.

Other features include touch screens for visitors to chime in on the NMAJH's major themes of freedom, immigration, and religious tolerance, along with a short quiz to help the Museum learn about visitors' knowledge of American Jewish history.

The museum is scheduled to open in 2010, and the design team is creating a 22,000-square-foot exhibit now under construction.

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