A round-up of press reactions to the Holocaust Galleries, designed by Casson Mann. Opening at IWM London 20 October, these galleries serve to challenge the idea that the Holocaust was carried out in anonymity and under a 'cloak of darkness'. By representing the individual stories of victims, perpetrators, and those who were complicit, the exhibition design communicates the fact that the Holocaust was something done to humans by humans.
Southwark News: "I have been to see Auschwitz and I will never forget the feeling I left there with. I had that same feeling as I left the Holocaust Galleries...it is vital that young people see this and learn from it."
Museums + Heritage Advisor: "The Holocaust Galleries tell the individual stories of some of the six million Jewish people murdered in the Holocaust through over 2,000 photos, books, artworks, letters and personal objects, from jewellery and clothing to toys and keepsakes."
"The attention to detail is incredible"
Barry Toberman from The Jewish Chronicle: "The initial space in the impressively detailed and diverse galleries is devoted to photographs and film clips of Jewish life in Europe and beyond, before the Shoah — family portraits, businesses, celebrations and holidays. Images of innocence, gaiety, hope and ambition, which contrast starkly with the grim spectre of what was to come...Information for each sub-section is headed by a quote from a Jewish individual or organisation. In later attributions, the profession of the speaker is in whitened shadow to reflect the opportunities denied them. In an effective subliminal touch, images taken by Nazis are differentiated by a black border."
Nicky Liss from Jewish News: "It is this sense of permanence, a sense of being remembered, and of being heard that has driven the design and now delivery of the new IWM London Galleries...the many additional artefacts, individual personal stories and direct survivor testimonies together with digital and interactive interpretation, enhance the telling of the story and understanding its scale, incredibly well."
Jenni Frazer from Jewish News: "Even for the Jewish visitor who believes they have a familiarity with the Holocaust, there is so much to discover in the new galleries. The attention to detail is incredible...there is even a specific typeface for the words of the perpetrators, and a separate, distinct typeface for the testimony of the victims. We begin — and, bearing in mind that many of the visitors will be schoolchildren aged 14 plus — in the most heartwarming way, showing Jewish families enjoying their lives before the war. Here are thousands of ever-changing pictures and films of Orthodox and secular Jews in central Europe, laughing and messing about in boats, or like Graziella Falco from Milan, celebrating her bat mitzvah…we are introduced to the theme of “totems” — life-size figures whose pictures appear throughout the exhibition, enabling us to meet them eye-to-eye. It is a striking thing to do and is at its most chilling in a display showing the most senior Nazis, those closest to Hitler. Here, life-size, is Goebbels, with Goring and Himmler close by. It’s a genuinely frightening moment."