Lonely Planet Writer

Talk to holograms of Holocaust survivors at this Illinois museum

A permanent immersive exhibition has opened at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in the United States, with an experience that enables visitors to hear the first-hand accounts and stories of Holocaust survivors through new ground-breaking technology.

The hologram of survivor Fritzie Fritzshall on stage.
The hologram of survivor Fritzie Fritzshall on stage. Image by Robert Kusel

Located near Chicago, the multi-million dollar Take a Stand Centre is aimed at empowering social justice, and features three new interactive galleries based on the themes of knowledge, inspiration and action, spread out across a 4000-square foot area. As part of the centre, the Abe and Ida Copper Survivor Stories Experience utilizes new technology that enables ‘conversations’ with recorded Holocaust survivors via 3D holography. The technology was developed by USC Shoah Foundation’s New Dimensions in Testimony program, and combines high-definition holographic interview recordings and voice recognition to enable survivors to tell their personal stories and then respond to questions from the audience, inviting one-on-one conversation from the guests in a 66-seater theater.

Thirteen Holocaust survivors from around the world were interviewed and recorded for the project.
Thirteen Holocaust survivors from around the world were interviewed and recorded for the project. Image by Courtesy of the USC Shoah Foundation

Thirteen survivors from around the world (seven of whom are living in the Chicago Metropolitan area), went through a rigorous recording process for the project. “Years from now, long after the last survivor has passed on, the New Dimensions in Testimony program will provide a path to enable young people to listen to a survivor and ask their own questions directly, essentially advancing the age-old tradition of passing down lessons through oral storytelling, but with the latest technologies available,” the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center said.

Also on site, the Goodman Upstander Gallery works to extend a message beyond the Holocaust to showcase 40 courageous “Upstanders” throughout history and today, striving in the areas of civic, social, economic and environmental rights. Life-size story portals also make it possible for visitors to interact with the digital stories of each of these people. Chosen with input from numerous advisory groups, including local community leaders, academics, educators, high school students, and museum board members, the Upstanders all have taken action to impact their communities in positive ways. Upstanders include historic leaders Nelson Mandela, Susan B. Anthony, and Jane Addams, while artists and athletes Theaster Gates and Carli Lloyd are included, as well as advocate Malala Yousafzai and 12-year-old Marley Dias, who raises awareness of the need for diversity in children’s literature.

The Upstander Gallery, celebrating the lives of courageous people throughout history.
The Upstander Gallery, celebrating the lives of courageous people throughout history. Image by Robert Kusel

“The opening of the Take a Stand Center is a major milestone not only for our Museum and the Midwest, but for our world,” said Museum CEO Susan Abrams. “Our Museum team is proud to be leading the way in using the history and lessons of the Holocaust and the inspiration of Upstanders, to equip our community, teachers, students, and the public to take a stand for humanity.”

More information on visiting the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center is available on the official website.