Time Out Chicago highlighted the Miller Family Youth Exhibition at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in its list of 8 Highlights of 2009 for Chicago Families. Inquirium’s Take a Stand exhibit occupies 30% of the exhibition, using virtual reality technology to provide kids with an immersive social experience in which they encounter the challenges and rewards of standing up for others and taking action to benefit society.
The IL Holocaust Museum dedicated their youth space this last weekend. We finally got a bit more coverage than we had in the past by the Pioneer Press. An excerpt:
“So here on a Sunday afternoon were the invited guests to the dedication, many of whom brought children and grandchildren to experience the offerings in this unique space. State-of-the-art technology is reflected in familiar computer screens as well as a not-so-familiar movie theater-size screen in a separate room. The all-enveloping screen is a part of an exercise that allows children to take on the role of frogs and make important decisions along their journey.
Still, even with technology that would rival the best of Nintendo and X-Box games, it would be a serious mistake to suggest that the exhibit serves simply as another venue for children to play with computer toys.
“The space we’re dedicating today is not a game room,” Harvey Miller said. “It is not a demonstration of the latest computer graphics. It is not a space for relaxation and resting. It is a teaching experience. It is meant to help provide the skills that parents, teachers, caregivers and the children themselves need in order to understand and use the lessons of the Holocaust. “
So it’s great to hear that our technology wowed the reporter. But I’m really glad Harvey Miller (the donor) was there to set the record straight.
The exhibit is admittedly hard to pin down in words. Even docents can have a hard time with it. On the surface, it looks and feels like a video game: you control characters on a screen, you have some goal that you’re trying to achieve in the space (catching flies), and you have a score that tells you how well you’re doing. But our goal was to deliberately use people’s expectations against them. And not so much “teach” per se, but to provide a touchstone experience that could spark conversations about the universal lessons of the holocaust.
Now that the exhibit is open and I have a little more time, I hope to spend the next few weeks relaying some design stories from our experience.