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published: March 2004
analytic scripts updated:  October 28, 2010

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License



Silent Witness (online exhibition)
Adele O'Dowd, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, USA
http://US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Demonstration: Demonstrations - Session 2

The online exhibition “Silent Witness”, about a little dress worn during a Holocaust survivor’s escape from a Polish ghetto, was created with as much tender care as the historical artifact itself. This exhibition highlights the artifact as one from our collection, each of the 8,000 having a unique story to tell. The challenge was telling the artifact’s and the survivor’s story in as compact and emotive way as possible. Although this story unfolds essentially in chronological order many aspects of it are enhanced for the senses with flash animation meant to mimic the textured nature of memory as well as the recounting of memory. For example, recreating needlework brings visitors to the most personal level of the story, the creation of the artifact itself, without using text. Audio creates intimacy in addition to accessibility. Even dialogue, shown as animated text, suggests water, a tactile suggestion at the turning point of the story.

This web site also provides a way for our museum to allow visitors to take a self directed close-up look at the artifact. Visitors are encouraged to examine the delicate artifact in a way they could not do in the museum setting. We hope to expand on this idea and create other improved views of artifacts that show three dimensions and artifact interiors as well.

We feel this online exhibition demonstrates the possibility for greater connection to museum collections for an online audience.