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February 26, 2016  RSS feed

Text: T T T

Holocaust Museum pact with Shoah Foundation extends reach

The Florida Holocaust Museum (FHM) recently entered into a 3-year agreement with the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation - the Institute for Visual History and Education that will significantly extend the reach of both institutions’ educational work.

“Three years ago, the FHM embarked upon a technology initiative to digitize the museum’s collections and upgrade infrastructure to support 21st century learning. We continue to be grateful to the state of Florida for their vision in supporting this initiative,” said Elizabeth Gelman, executive director of the museum. “We have now reached a new juncture and will soon be able to share our resources in a meaningful way with classrooms throughout the state of Florida, the U.S. and in 52 other countries.”

Students and scholars will be able to access the museum’s digital collections of art, historical objects and first-person testimony.

The agreement between the museum and the USC Shoah Foundation, founded in 1994 by director Steven Spielberg, spells out the following key initiatives that, pending funding, are set to launch in July:

Preserving the legacy: The museum’s collection of testimonies will be one of the first to be entrusted to the Foundation under the recently launched Preserving the Legacy program that uses the institute’s infrastructure to digitize, index and integrate Holocaust testimonies taken by other organizations around the world in the Visual History Archive, a repository of 53,000 genocide testimonies.

Providing access: Through this program, the museum will become an access point for the Visual History Archive in Florida, making the 53,000 audiovisual testimonies available for research and education. This will make the museum a leading resource for scholars and educators alike, and the 54th access site to the Visual History Archive.

Enhancing education: Under the agreement, the two institutions will embark on a number of projects that leverage the strengths of the museum’s programs and expertise and those of the institute. The museum’s digitized artifacts and substantial visual art collection will be integrated into IWitness, USC Shoah Foundation’s educational website. The addition of the museum’s visual art collection will become a new feature to IWitness. As the museum’s testimonies are integrated into the Visual History Archive, they will also be integrated into IWitness.

The museum and the USC Shoah Foundation will collaborate to develop curriculum specifically to meet the standards and needs of Florida classrooms. Using the museum’s testimonies, the team of education experts will build learning activities in IWitness, as well an offline activity. These activities will provide much-needed resources for Holocaust education in Florida, as well as expand the educational programming the museum offers to a worldwide audience.

IWitness, which the American Association of School Librarians has named as a top website for teaching and learning, provides students with guided exploration of full-life histories and testimonies of nearly 1,600 witnesses to and survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides. The testimonies are searchable by more than 9,000 keywords, enabling students to pinpoint exact moments of interest within each testimony.

The built-in IWitness video editor gives students the ability to construct video essays and edit testimony as well as integrate footage and other materials from outside sources such as photos, maps, voiceover audio, music and text.

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