ASK a Survivor, a program that has future-proofed the process for younger generations to interact with Holocaust survivors, has won the Jewish Holocaust Centre (JHC) a prestigious Victorian museums accolade.
The project was recognised in the Australian Museums and Galleries Association (AMaGA) Victoria Awards held online earlier this month, with the JHC receiving the award for Medium Museums/Galleries (open to museums with eight-to-50 paid staff).
Ask a Survivor was developed in coordination with the JHC’s community of Holocaust survivors. Over an eight-year period, 46 interviews with 32 different survivors were conducted.
JHC CEO and museum director Jayne Josem said, “Meeting and interacting with a Holocaust survivor is one of the unforgettable highlights of visiting the Jewish Holocaust Centre. Ask a Survivor was created to future-proof this experience to ensure that the museum could facilitate ongoing meaningful interaction between students and Holocaust survivors.”
She said that with COVID-19 restrictions, the JHC had to fast-track the website project. “In this interactive experience, 18 questions most asked by students were curated as an online resource. Students then have an opportunity to pose these questions, compare responses and see the similarities and differences in the survivors’ answers.”
AMaGA Victoria judges described Ask a Survivor as “a moving and a significant project that was delivered respectfully and with integrity”, adding that they were impressed with the good use of technology, high level of execution and ease of navigation on the website.
And JHC engagement manager Jennifer Levitt Maxwell received a Highly Commended for Excellence award for her work at the museum. She has worked collaboratively with JHC’s education team, particularly with head of education Lisa Phillips and audio-visual producer Robbie Simons to swiftly develop a virtual learning platform during the pandemic.
This included a virtual museum as well as the Ask a Survivor and Understanding Through Testimony interactive projects.
“Her determination to respond quickly to the situation enabled her to coordinate our team and work closely with Lisa and Robbie on the vision to create engaging material for students who were studying remotely,” noted Josem. “We are so proud of the virtual materials – featuring survivor testimony – which have been really well received by school students and teachers, and many others, across Australia.”
Victoria’s Minister for Creative Industries Danny Pearson said the state’s museums and galleries “played an important role in getting us through the challenges of 2020, providing rich online experiences and working behind-the-scenes to welcome back visitors in a COVID-safe way”.