AN online Holocaust museum, believed to be the world’s first, has been launched by the new Queensland Holocaust Museum and Education Centre.
Museum chair Jason Steinberg said the combination of a virtual museum and local residents speaking about their survival made the project “unique”.
With the physical museum launched in June, Steinberg said, “We wanted to think creatively about how to educate people before we had a physical presence.”
On its website, the Brisbane-based museum describes its internet exhibits as “a visually engaging, interactive, digitally intelligent and immersive experience that brings the story of the Holocaust to life. Self-guided, free and easily accessible from a computer (not a mobile phone), the online resource is designed for an international audience and is accessible 24/7”.
This “virtual space to learn about the Holocaust” uses the same historical sources and materials as its bricks-and-mortar counterpart, which is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
Steinberg told The AJN the online journey comprises four zones spanning prewar life, the beginning of the war, the Shoah and its aftermath. A conceptualised town square ties some of the narrative together, much of it told by Queensland survivors, with voice-overs by Kathryn Eisman, Australian grandchild of a survivor.
Based on video gaming technology, aspects of the virtual museum include mouse-navigable 360-degree views of locations and artefacts. On the website, an introductory text tells visitors: “This virtual environment does not seek to represent any building or structure in its true form. Instead we have created a canvas to give you factual information about the events of the Holocaust. You may find this content distressing.”
Steinberg said the response to the online museum, launched only last week, has been emphatic, with 1000 viewers globally, including 800 in Australia.
The museum – established through a $3.5 million Queensland government grant matched by the federal government, with $500,000 from the Brisbane City Council – was officially opened on June 30 this year, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk joining Steinberg – who is president of the Queensland Jewish Board of Deputies – and Queensland Holocaust survivors for the official launch.
It features locally recorded stories of Holocaust survivors and their families, alongside tributes to non-Jewish people who risked their lives to save Jews people, including the Righteous Among the Nations.