LOS ANGELES, CA—June 20, 2011—Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust executed an agreement last week with USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education that will enable the Museum to create a 65-screen video sculpture displaying all of the Institute’s nearly 52,000 video testimonies over the course of a single year. The video sculpture will further the Museum’s role as a leader in exhibit design and innovation.
The video sculpture, unparalleled in scope, will occupy an entire wall of the Museum, which opened in its new, award-winning and nationally-recognized facility in Pan Pacific Park in October, 2010. Screens of varying sizes will be arrayed seemingly randomly across the wall. Each screen will display an individual interview.
A splash screen will appear between interviews, providing the name and additional information about the interview that follows. Visitors will be able to listen to the synchronized audio of the interview through the Museum’s award-winning audio guides, distributed to each person touring the Museum complimentary with the already free admission.
The Museum is currently open approximately 2000 hours per year. Thus, the Museum plans to display all approximately 105,000 hours of USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s video testimonies within a 10 month period on the 65 screen wall. The interviews were conducted with survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust, including liberators, rescuers, and aid providers. The Museum will also present the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s entire Visual History Archive—the testimonies and the interface through which they can be searched and accessed—on stand-alone computer terminals.
The survivor video wall is the brain child of Museum Board President E. Randol Schoenberg, who conceived the installation after seeing video exhibits and art at other museums around the country.
“We are thrilled by our formal partnership with USC Shoah Foundation Institute. We can hardly wait to install the video sculpture, so all our visitors, from all over Los Angeles and Southern California, can have direct encounters with the powerful testimony of 52,000 Holocaust survivors and witnesses,” said Mark Rothman, Executive Director, Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.
“One of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s primary goals is to provide access to the testimonies to as broad an audience as possible,” said Stephen D. Smith, Executive Director, USC Shoah Foundation Institute. “This is the first time ever that the entire archive will be displayed in public as a whole, and we are delighted to have it here, in Los Angeles.” In May the Association of American Museums recognized the Museum for its innovative use of technology. The Museum’s audio guide, which provides visitors with hundreds of 2-3 min. prompts narrating the Museum’s exhibits as well as synchronized audio for video displays, earned a gold Muse award at the Association’s 2011 convention. The 18 camps installation, displaying touch screen computers that provide visitors information about 18 individual concentration camps, earned a silver Muse award. The 18 camps installation already incorporates excerpts from USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s testimonies.
The video wall will include a small exhibit detailing the history of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute. Established by Steven Spielberg in 1994, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute has recorded nearly 52,000 video interviews with Holocaust survivors and other witnesses. The Institute’s mission is to overcome prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry—and the suffering they cause—through the educational use of its visual history testimonies.
The survivor video sculpture presents stunning technological challenges. The Institute’s Visual History Archive, as it will be delivered to the Museum, requires approximately 650 terabytes of data. Audio will need to be streamed in synch with 65 individual video feeds. Untold miles of cables will be required to connect the screens to the audio-video storage system, and a complex network of servers will integrate the system.
The Museum expects to complete the design and construction of the survivor video sculpture with the team that created the existing exhibits and interactives: Santa Monica architecture firm Belzberg Architects as architect-designer; Winter-Schram Associates as contractor, New York’s Potion Design as software designer; and, The Tech Consultants of Woodland Hills as lead technology partner. Data Direct Networks will provide data storage hardware. Los Angeles’s Variate Labs, which provided significant design expertise to the Museum previously, may also consult on user-interface issues.
The USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s Visual History Archive will become available at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust later this year.
Holocaust survivors founded the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust in the early 1960s as a permanent repository for their personal artifacts from the Holocaust and the world the Nazis destroyed.
Today a nationally-renowned institution locating in a distinct building in Pan Pacific Park, the Museum hosts docent-led school tours, survivor lectures, exhibitions on the Holocaust, and numerous special events. Museum admission is always free. Visit us on-line at www.lamoth.org.
Established in 1994 by Steven Spielberg to collect and preserve the testimonies of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute maintains one of the largest video digital libraries in the world: nearly 52,000 video testimonies in 32 languages and from 56 countries. The Institute is part of the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California; its mission is to overcome prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry—and the suffering they cause—through the educational use of the Institute’s visual history testimonies.
The Institute works within the University and with partners around the world to advance scholarship and research, to provide resources and online tools for educators, and to disseminate the testimonies for educational purposes. In addition to preserving the testimonies in its archive, the Institute is working with partner organizations to help document the stories of survivors and other witnesses of other genocides. For more information, visit the Institute’s website, sfi.usc.edu.