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

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License



Ours to Fight For
Courtney Aison, Museum of Jewish Heritage A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, USA

Demonstration: Demonstrations - Session 1

The special exhibition, Ours to Fight For - American Jews In the Second World War explores the role of Jewish American men and women who were part of the war effort in Europe, the Pacific, North Africa, Asia, and at home. The special exhibition honors World War II veterans who tell their stories through video testimony, artifacts, personal quotes, letters, and photographs.

While the focus of the exhibition is primarily on Jewish Americans serving during World War II, the Museum developed a self-directed interactive new media component that allows visitors to examine the experiences of other minority groups.

The interactive gallery is organized around six themes: Pre-War Prejudice, Why I Served, Discrimination in the Service, Camaraderie & Special Assignments, War & Identity, and War Stories. The interactive presents video interviews with African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Chinese-Americans, Native Americans, and Puerto Ricans, as well as Jews who served in other Allied armies, first-person accounts by those who fought the Nazis. The six kiosks enable visitors to explore archival material and to learn about "Other Voices" and experiences not covered elsewhere in the exhibition. In addition, the video recording booth invites visitors to share their own "war stories" or responses to the exhibition.

Goals and Challenges of the "Other Voices" kiosks

  • Create an interactive environment where visitors can hear personal testimony and learn about the experiences of racial and ethnic groups in the US military and other Allied forces how these experiences paralleled or differed from those of American Jews.
  • To integrate more then three-hours of video from disparate sources, and of different lengths, in a non-linear self-directed environment.
  • Enable visitors to browse across thematic content or delve deeper into the stories of certain groups or individuals.
  • Provide an overarching structure for diverse content without imposing a curatorial voice. This objective reinforced the Museums curatorial direction which mandated that veterans, rather than curators, should tell their stories in their own words. At the networked kiosks 'sound bites' or brief segments of testimony animate to engage visitors and draw them into an exploration of the thematic video content. The core messages of each theme are reinforced with supporting archival imagery.
  • Create an environment where visitors can contribute their own "war stories" and reactions to the exhibition. The Flash based administrative tool allows staff members to review submissions and "publish" content to the six display terminals in the interactive gallery.