Second Life US Holocaust Museum: Amazing and Impactful!

5 03 2010

I regularly attend meetings in Second Life (SL) that are sponsored by the Gronstedt Group.

On Thursday, March 4, I joined a group of approximately 30 folks from around the world on a guided tour of an amazing US Holocaust Museum experience in SL that commemorates the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht which means “Night of Crystal,” and is often referred to as the “Night of Broken Glass.”  The name refers to the wave of violent anti-Jewish pogroms which took place on November 9 and 10, 1938 throughout Germany, annexed Austria, and in areas of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia recently occupied by German troops.  Read more about Kristallnacht in the Holocaust Encyclopedia.

The SL tour was organized by David Klevan, Education Manager for Technology and Distance Learning Initiatives, Division of Outreach Technology at the Holocaust Museum.  David’s SL avatar is Eubie Doobie.

This was one of the best (and most enlightening) kinesthetic experiences I have witnessed in SL!  As visitors, we experienced history as journalists investigating what happened on the “Night of Broken Glass”, listening to testimony from Holocaust survivors and examining artifacts in a ransacked section of a city.  This approach gives visitors a reason to gather information, listen, and question what they are seeing, hearing and experiencing.  The blend of effects makes the tour truly visually enlightening and viscerally impactful.  In fact, this transformative SL experience has become so powerful for some visitors that they needed to leave as they were totally overcome by a range of emotions.

David mentioned other points about this SL experience that are worthy of reflection:
1. Every visitor has a very personal journey that needs to be undertaken at their own pace and cannot be rushed.
2. Discovery-based learning that is enhanced by eye-witness testimony, sounds and visual clues allows for a series of choices regarding what to see and when.
3. There is absolutely no substitute for learning from eye witnesses whose story must be told.  The story drives the visitors’ journey while the artifacts and scenes are not the main focus.
4. The journey starts in black and white and ends in color to emphasize the journalistic investigative approach of moving from the unknown to learning about and remembering the actual people whose lives were indelibly altered by the historical event.

This SL tour definitely needs to be taken!  The US Holocaust Museum is located in SL at this map location.

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