Edward Tabor Linenthal: Preserving Memory The Struggle to Create America's Holocaust Museum



At Right So you would think As it turns out it isn t exactly entirely that simpleIn creating America s Holocaust Museum all of the above things were considered But as Linenthal explains there were a lot of issues defining exactly what all of those things meant Linenthal describes the evolution of the museum from its beginning mandate during the Carter administration touched off by Carter needing to balance out his sympathies to the Palestinians with some gesture towards the Jewish community through the various stages of forming the committee that conceptualized the museum the arguments ov This is another book from my graduate school s reuired reading list It deals with the fifteen year ourney to create the American Holocaust Museum I have visited the museum once many years ago but it definitely left a lasting impression I thin I read this book before working at USHMM and then a few years after I had been there once I knew the people involved Linenthal really explains the background of planning designing and building a Holocaust museum in the US and all the difficulties political and otherwise involved When I worked at USHMM I always encouraged people to read it because the context of the building and its place on the Natl Mall and in national consciousness plus the debates and struggles that went into making it are fundamental to the museum itself I love this book I usually love Linenthal he seems to have a gift for communicating historical controversies and how they play out in a museum setting However this book was all over the place He ust rambled emphasized the same two issues over and over and had a lot of trouble keeping any sort of structure to this account Maybe he would have been better off consolidating this into a long essay. Lively honest behind the scenes account details the emotionally complex fifteen year struggle surrounding the museum's birth.

This is an extensive overview of the process of creating the Holocaust Museum I am really glad I didn t read this back in the fall when it was first suggested to me because knowing something about exhibit design and development makes this infinitely interesting I imagine large portions could be dry and boring if I didn t have a sense of context and perspective It s fascinating to see what happens when budget is essentially unlimited and politics are the dominant force There s a range of stories here from the debate over the building s location to its design to exactly what story they are trying to tell I even enjoyed all the time spent on the minute details of the council formation and creating definitions it really shows how insanely complicated a project this was I wish it had been annotated effectively and it was hard to keep track of the dozens of people involved with no help from the author but this is a great peek into an extreme example of museum logistics Informative and interesting Can t say much yet as for any political bias in Linenthal s presentation of the events leading up to the opening of the Holocaust Memorial Museum but this certainly allowed me to appreciate the amount of planning discussion contention revision and politicalphilosophical struggle that went into the creation of this place Particularly fascinating was the chapter on the process of deciding which Holocaust artifacts to include and how to use them to tell what kind of story As Linenthal suggests any telling of the Holocaust will be necessarily incomplete and this book is an well written account of one museum s attempt at that telling Linenthal s book is a near perfect work of public historical analysis He is sensitive to every nuance of his subject matter. Since its first year in 1993 the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has attracted than 15 millino visitors sometimes at.

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From the problem of narrative a drive toward redemption or at least satisfying closure to an acknowledgment of museum staff as stakeholder and the utmost importance of physical context to the work of museum exhibition development I keep hoping that Linenthal will tackle the building of the 911 Memorial Museum I m not sure another scholar could do it ustice Edward T Linenthal Preserving Memory The Struggle to Create America s Holocaust Museum New York Penguin USA 1995 2795 USA 3699 CanadaFirst published in The EcumenistThroughout this spring there have been several sol Linenthal s take on how Holocaust history was produced and protected or challenged by various stakeholders in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is informative His assertion that The Holocaust offers America a particular kind of redemption narrative that serves national needs regarding the re visioning of our role in WWII is compelling However he doesn t fully explore the history that redemption narratives allow us to avoid ie the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Admittedly this would fall outside the scope of his book Still this seems like the unacknowledged shadow This book gives the reader a great insight into how the Holocaust Museum in DC was conceived and created It s amazing how much thought went into every minute detail of this structure and it s permanent exhibition Because of the subject matter it was a Museum that could not fail because of the millions of people they hoped to honor One cannot visit this Museum without being moved and to discover how it began and how it was set in motion is truly an eye opening read If there s something we can all get together on it should probably be that the Holocaust sucked and we should both remember and respect th. The rate of 10000 a day each of whom has walked away with an indelible impression of awe in the face of the unimaginable This.

Edward Linenthal is a Professor of History and Religious Studies at Indiana University Bloomington