We study the Holocaust, one of the darkest chapters of human history lest we see its devastating events repeated. There are few places better to learn about the systematic persecution of the Jewish people — along with many other minorities — than at the The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, but not everyone can make it to Washington, DC to visit its heartbreaking halls. This is all about to change, however, as they launch a new app which allows students of history to take a virtual tour of the museum’s grounds and exhibits.
The Holocaust: History and Museum is a free, virtual field trip complete with means of viewing and a lesson plan. The tour takes you through nine different scenes from the museum including their permanent exhibition, The Holocaust, the Hall of Witness and Hall of Remembrance, and a conservation lab where students can examine how staff members preserve and present Holocaust history.
In order to take the tour, participants must have a phone or tablet and an appropriate Virtual Reality headset. The “virtual” aspect of the tour takes place in the app Google Expeditions, which is available on both Iphone and Android. While the app carries the Holocaust tour, it can take you to many other locations and museums as well.
The new app works in tandem with a complete lesson plan, which the Holocaust Museum offers free of charge. On their website they explain what the lesson plan entails:
In this lesson, students examine how the Museum uses artifacts and photographs from its collections to present the history of the Holocaust and memorialize its victims—including artifacts and photographs that illustrate important aspects of Holocaust history such as Torah scrolls rescued during Kristallnacht, a train car, prisoner barracks from Auschwitz, and a gas chamber model. Students also tour the Museum’s architecture and discuss what makes the Museum a living memorial. Through their exploration of the Museum’s exhibitions, students gain a greater understanding of key events and topics related to the Holocaust and are able to explain the systematic nature, scope, and consequences of the Holocaust.
The VR app allows students a 360 degree view of the museum and its exhibits. Each stop in the tour prompts the viewer to closely examine the artifacts or photographs from their collection. Teachers are provided narration as well as some general questions and answers to focus students’ attention and promote critical thinking.
If you are not part of a class and you would like to take advantage of the new app, they offer solo expeditions, for private students of history who wish to explore the Holocaust museum, but may not be able to make the trip to Washington, DC.