29 New Things: Visit the Museum of Tolerance

8 Aug

MOT--Tolerancenter Entrance


I had always meant to visit the Museum of Tolerance. It’s in Central LA, it is a well known, innovative museum, and going to a museum about tolerance has to be good for you. Unfortunately, I am just never in the mood to go to a museum that focuses on genocide and other horrible things people to do to each other. The last time I went to an exhibit like this was way back in Fall 2007, when I was living in London. A friend and I visited the Imperial War Museum (which is ridiculously impressive, by the way. So many planes!), and we found ourselves in the Holocaust section, which is huge…and overwhelming…and just so sad. So so so sad. There were stacks of shoes and glasses that had been shed before the victims entered the ovens. There were tons of recorded testimonies by people who had been sent to death camps. There was so much senseless death. By the end of the exhibit, I could barely move. My friend continued on while I stared at the wall for a long time.

So, yeah. It’s not idea of my best time.

But, I am studying museums. I can do this.

The Museum of Tolerance doesn’t focus just on the Holocaust, although that is a large section of it, but rather on injustices of all sorts (although I would mention that there are some MASSIVE blind spots, particularly when it comes to injustices in the Middle East ahem ahem). Once you get through these early exhibits about the Civil Rights movement and other current injustices, you’re sent into the Holocaust section of the museum, which is only entered with a tour guide. This tour is very aimed at school groups (I went through with a high school group). The museum has a fake Germany “set” which ends with the extremely sobering concentration camp and gas chamber sets. Yeah. Sitting in a fake gas chamber will make you think things over, let me tell you. I found the exhibit to be kind of basic. There aren’t a lot of original materials, and instead it is entirely recreated. Still, the information was good, and I think the kids were getting a lot out of it.

Also, at the beginning of the tour, you’re given a card with the name and picture of a child who was affected by the Holocaust. Along the way, you put the card into very 1990s card readers which give you more information about the kid, and, in the end, you find out what happened to your child. My child, sadly, disappeared during the Holocaust, but some did survive, as evidenced by the Holocaust survivors that the museum hires to sit and talk to visitors. That’s an amazing addition to the whole experience.

So, yes. I’m glad I went. It’s an interesting museum from a museum studies standpoint, due to its lack of actual objects, which are replaced by its interactive exhibits.

But did I enjoy myself? Um. I don’t think that’s the point. I was so emotionally exhausted, that I went home and took a two hour nap.

Let’s all be good to each other, yes? Thanks.


2 Responses to “29 New Things: Visit the Museum of Tolerance”

  1. kingmidget August 8, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    Love this: (although I would mention that there are some MASSIVE blind spots, particularly when it comes to injustices in the Middle East ahem ahem)

    I’ve been to the Museum of Tolerance several times. From my perspective the quality and value of the exhibits has gone downhill. The first time, probably twenty years ago — they had a hall where there were no exhibits. Instead when you walked through the hall, all sorts of voices would yell racial slurs of all kinds at you. Very powerful. There were some other exhibits back then that I think were more powerful than the ones they have now.
    That said — whether it is the museum in L.A. or the Holocaust Museum in D.C., every American should go at some point.

  2. samurraybooks August 9, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

    They featured this museum in the movie freedom writers. (I’m 90% sure they did anyway:P ) It’s always been a place I’ve wanted to visit. Sounds very powerful as far as experiences go but I;ve often found myself wondering at my obsession with subjecting myself to such horrible truths of things that have happened or are currently happening in our world. It makes a person feel so very insignificant and helpless and yet I feel that if I turn away I’m only part of the problem. Good for you for going forward. 🙂

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