Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Brevard hosts unique traveling Holocaust exhibit

 

A young student working on his art project.

A unique traveling Holocaust exhibit created and staffed by schoolchildren will arrive in Brevard County for a five-day visit beginning Sunday, April 19. These students, from grade school through high school, created over 600 stunning works of art based on extensive Holocaust research and travel with the museum and serve as guides. They will also talk about what they've learned in their studies and share their passion for this project. These students' mission is to make sure that no one ever forgets, and to make sure that something like this never happens again.

Currently over 1000 students from over 20 local schools are scheduled to attend. All local students will be admitted free to the museum, as well as any adult who accompanies a student.

The more than 600 pieces of student-created art, including oils, pastels, charcoals, pen and ink drawings, sculptures, and scale models, in the museum will completely fill the exhibition hall at the Space Coast Convention Center, 301 Tucker Lane in Cocoa, (on I-95 and SR 520). It will open following a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 19, and remain open until 9 p.m. The exhibit continues Monday through Thursday, April 20-23, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Retired pastor Ron Shelton was astonished at the quality of the traveling exhibit when he first viewed it in Washington, D.C., almost five years ago.

"When I saw this more than amazing exhibit," said Shelton, "I hoped that someday I would find a way to bring it to our community."

Shelton, the director of the Sister City Program of Cocoa, Florida, and Beit Shemesh, Israel, felt that with 2015 marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the time was right to bring the museum to Brevard. He inspired the Sister City organization to raise funds to transport and house 60 museum staff, including the children artists.

Local connections to the Holocaust will be evident in the "Room of Remembrance" at the entrance to the exhibit. Visitors to the museum will have the opportunity to interact with Holocaust survivors, see a video, and talk with the families of survivors.

One of the exhibits will be a Google Earth view of the Auschwitz concentration camp, which was about half the size of Manhattan, and has been called "the largest cemetery in the world."

Also on display will be the exhibit created by Eagle Scout Max Waldor of Orlando Troop 996, now a University of Central Florida freshman. This mural shows survivor photographs and stories that viewers can access with a smart phone using QR codes. The project won the top Eagle Scout Award in 2013 and is permanently housed with the Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation. Waldor will be at the opening on Sunday, April, 19 at 7:15 p.m. and will take questions for about 15 minutes.

Shelton said the exhibit is appropriate for children of all ages, and that the museum is family friendly, without compromising the message of the holocaust. "We want the student ambassadors of this museum to share their vital message of love and understanding with the students of our community," said Shelton.

To encourage children and families to visit, museum admission will be free for all students, from kindergarten through college. Teachers, and any adult accompanied by a student will also be admitted free. Adult prices are $10 at the museum or online at http://www.holocaustmuseumcentralflorida2015.org.

 

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