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February 12, 1993 - Image 26

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-02-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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28

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he Beit Hashoah-
Museum of Tolerance
opened its doors to the
public on Tuesday,
culminating 10 years of
planning and building by
the Simon Wiesenthal
Center and its supporters.
The first of an anticipated
350,000 annual visitors en-
countered a high-tech muse-
um that combines hands-on
computer stations, interac-
tive displays, banks of tele-
vision screens, imaginative
graphics, films and video'
monitors to drive home the
message that without a per-
sonal commitment and sense
of responsibility, the past
horrors borne of racism and
prejudice can confront
humankind again.
In lin6 with its high
visibility and flair for mix-
ing showmanship and con-
tent, the Wiesenthal Center
gathered an impressive
international list of guests
at two events leading up to
the opening, from actor Ar-
nold Schwarzenegger to the
governor of California.
When ground was broken
for the museum in 1986, the
projections were that it
would cost $15 million and
open by 1988. Through
enlargements and unfore-
seen natural and man-made
obstacles, the job took six in--
stead of two years to com-
plete and the final bill is
close to $55 million. The
California legislature pro-
vided $5 million of that
amount, triggering one of a
number of disputes that
have accompanied the pro-
ject.
The completed glass and
granite complex is four
stories high, with four addi-
tional underground levels
for parking. Inside, the two
major themes reflect the
dual name of the institution
—House of the Holocaust
and Museum of Tolerance —
with the latter dealing
mainly with the American
experience, from the early
treatment of Native Ameri-
cans to the Rodney King
beating that ultimately led
to the Los Angeles riots of
last April.
The first choice facing a
visitor is whether to walk
through a door mark
"Prejudiced" or

"Unprejudiced," only to find
that the "Unprejudiced'
door is locked. Everyone has
to go through the
"Prejudiced" door.
Other sections of the
Tolerance exhibit leads to a
whisper gallery of ethnic
slurs, a visual history of the
civil rights struggle, a
interactive map of hate.
crimes and groups, and
videos on the genocides
perpetrated on Armenians,
Cambodians and Indians in
Latin America.
To begin the tour of th
Holocaust sections, each
visitor is issued a passport of
a child survivor or victim,
whose journey is updated
regularly until his or her
fate is sealed.
The rise of Nazism is il-
lustrated through a series of
dioramas, a powerful film
a massive Nuremberg rally,
and a replica of the gates -
and some of the barracks of
Auschwitz.
The Hall of Testimonies
offers oral histories of sur-

The completed
glass and granite
complex is four
stories high.

vivors, testaments of those
who perished, and an area
devoted to righteous gen-
tiles.
Wire services and satellite
feeds in the Global Situation
Room update reports on cur-
rent hate crimes and the
"ethnic cleansing" cam-
paign in Bosnia.
On the second floor, a
multimedia learning center
contains 30 computer sta-
tions, where through cross-
indexed data, photos and
video, the visitor can extract
information on virtually
every aspect of World War II
and the Holocaust. On the
upper floors are a library,
archives, and data bases for
professional researchers,
and two gift shops.
The approach taken by the
museum's creators is not
without critics, who charge

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