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Create a Holocaust Museum Exhibit

Students will learn about the Holocaust. Then, they will design a museum exhibit that teaches about the Holocaust, honors its survivors and victims or confronts the ongoing battle against genocide and anti-Semitism.

PROCESS:

  1. Prior to conducting this activity, review the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website. Select resources, including lesson plans and online exhibits, to use as you teach students about the Holocaust and how to remember its survivors and victims. If you teach older students, also utilize the museum's features about confronting the ongoing battle against genocide and anti-Semitism.
  2. Have students discuss the types of exhibits usually seen in a museum. (i.e., historic objects, scientific specimens, living organisms, paintings, photographs, documents, soundtracks, etc.) Point out that exhibits can take up entire rooms or be so small that several objects fit in a glass-fronted case. And many museums, like the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, have digital displays and interactive elements that heighten the visitor's experience.
  3. Outline the process for creating a museum exhibit. If you wish, use the Smithsonian lesson "History Close to Home: Creating Your Own Special Museum" as a guide.
  4. Based on what they have learned, inform students that they will create a museum exhibit that teaches about the Holocaust, honors its survivors and victims or (older students only) confronts the ongoing battle against genocide and anti-Semitism. Encourage students to conduct further research and incorporate additional information they learn about their chosen topic.
  5. Provide art supplies, poster board, small boxes and access to a digital design program. Based on what they've learned, instruct students to select the type of exhibit best suited to their topic. Give them time to create a poster, diorama or digital display.

ASSESSMENT:

Invite students to present their finished exhibits to the class. Encourage them to identify key components of their exhibits and explain how they hope their exhibits inspire people to think differently about their chosen topic.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:

Grades 3-4:
As a class, learn about the Holocaust and its survivors and victims. Then have students complete the project in small groups. Give groups time to create a poster or diorama. Encourage them to brainstorm ideas for digital components that could also be featured in their exhibits. Once all groups have presented, have the class brainstorm ideas about how all of the exhibits could be combined to create a new Holocaust museum.
Grades 5-6:
As a class, learn about the Holocaust and its survivors and victims. Then have students complete the project in small groups. Challenge groups to think of a new and innovative way to create a museum exhibit about the Holocaust or its survivors and victims. Encourage them to identify specific items they would include in this exhibit. Then have groups create a poster or diorama featuring their exhibit and write a detailed outline explaining how they could incorporate one digital component into the exhibit to enhance the visitor's experience. Once all groups have presented, have the class brainstorm ideas about how all of the exhibits could be combined to create a new Holocaust museum.
Grades 7-8:
As a class, learn about the Holocaust and its survivors and victims. Then divide the class into two groups. Instruct one group to conduct research to learn more about the Holocaust and the other group to investigate Holocaust survivors and victims. Challenge each group to brainstorm ideas about how they could create a multi-faceted museum exhibition that both educates and inspires museum visitors to make a positive change. Give groups time to create diorama or digital display for each part of their exhibition.
Grades 9-10:
Study the Holocaust as a class. Then divide the class into three groups. Assign each group one topic: the Holocaust; Holocaust survivors and victims; or the ongoing battle against genocide and anti-Semitism. Encourage groups to conduct additional research to learn more about their topics. Then have the class rejoin. Challenge students to brainstorm ideas for how they could combine what they learned to create a comprehensive museum exhibition that educates people about the past, informs them about current conditions, and inspires them to make a change. Once the class develops a plan, give each group time to complete its part of the classroom exhibition.