L.A.'s Holocaust Museum Uses High Tech to Create a Highly Personal Experience

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L.A.'s Holocaust Museum Uses High Tech to Create a Highly Personal Experience L.A.'s Holocaust Museum Uses High Tech to Create a Highly Personal Experience
Design

L.A.'s Holocaust Museum Uses High Tech to Create a Highly Personal Experience

by Alissa Walker

March 26, 2011


One of the most poignant moments is created in a room full of 18 kiosks, each one representing one of the concentration camps. Each kiosk presents stark facts about the camp it represents, like the number of people killed, but also lets visitors view video interviews from survivors and photos from the camps, humanizing the data. As I looked through images of camp life, I was surprised by the effectiveness of the narration in my headphones. Hearing the captions spoken, rather than reading them, allowed my eyes to focus more on the images themselves. Giving people this flexible, multimedia experience, Kemp hopes, will result in a more personalized—and more engaging—museum. "It enables people to stay longer since they're not on one linear path."

Like the museum experience, L.A.'s Holocaust story is still evolving. A final section, which is not yet completed, will feature more context about ongoing persecution and genocide throughout the world. Right now, survivors serve as docents, giving guided tours through the museum. But this won't always be the case, acknowledges Kemp, so they're working on creating a massive video wall where statements from survivors can be accessed through the iPod Touch system, effectively allowing visitors to tune in to any story. Variate Labs also built the content management system and trained the museum's archivist to digitize and upload new pieces into the system, helping them keep the collection as up-to-date as possible. 

That flexibility is what makes the L.A. Museum of the Holocaust radically different. In essence, the museum exists completely in the cloud, and can be completely catered to your own personal interests. Ideally, says Kemp, the museum's content could become a mobile app that could live on your phone, allowing you to access the stories and images at home in order to engage more fully with the content. That would accomplish what all institutions want—to expand their experiences beyond the museum walls.

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